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august/September 2013

Internet Poker’s Act of Freedom  Congressman Joe Barton Exclusive

August/September 2013

Special Report: Start-up Affiliates  Paddy Power Launches on Facebook  The State of Search in iGaming Digital Casino Focus  INFORMATION, INSIGHT AND ANALYSIS FOR THE BUSINESS OF INTERACTIVE GAMING


CONTENTS Events Calendar 04 Webmaster News 06 Getting the Best Link 12 SEO Site Build for Start-ups 15 International SEO 19 The State of Search in iGaming 22 As iGaming gains a foothold in the United States, the opportunities for affiliates gather steam… or so you would think. So far, and granted at the time of press there is only Ultimate Gaming running real money games in the USA, opportunities for affiliates have failed to emerge. But I think that is about to change as the political momentum for regulated iGaming gathers pace. As more online poker rooms emerge, either on a state by state or federal regulatory basis, the competition between operators will advantage anyone who can effectively drive players. So if you have let your database go stale since Black Friday or you have not put much effort into the US market to date, now is the time to start gathering eyeballs, developing your lists and designing your proposition for a market that looks like it’s about to explode.

Paddy Power Launches Real Money Facebook App 26 Digital Casino Focus 28 Congressman Joe Barton: US Poker’s Freedom Fighter 42 The Internet Poker Freedom Act 46 Playtech Buys PokerStrategy with Mor Weizer, Playtech’s CEO 48 Responsible Marketing and Advertising 50 SEO Security Audits 52 Social and Mobile Marketing Strategies 56 Jeremy Enke speaks to Skrill USA CEO, Neil Steinhardt 58 Mobile Affiliate Marketing with Aideen Shortt 61 Start-up Affiliates: Legal Responsibilities 65 Social Strategies for Start-up Affiliates 68 Start-ups in the US Market 71 Social Gaming: a New Affiliate Journey 74 US Data Centre: New Jersey 76 Market Place 78 Seven Reasons You’re not Converting 80

Michael Caselli, Editor in Chief

http://tinyurl.com/igbaffiliate @igbaffiliate

Marketing Performance Evaluation and Measurement 81

Editor in Chief: Michael Caselli

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michaelc@igamingbusiness.com

Published by: iGaming Business,

Printed in the UK by: Pensord Press, www.pensord.co.uk

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Publisher: Alex Pratt

publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or

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the publishers. Full acknowledgement of author, publisher and

Sales Manager: James King

published by iGaming Business Limited of 33-41 Dallington Street,

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correspondents are their own. Editorial opinions expressed in this

source must be given. iGaming Business Affiliate Magazine is London, EC1V 0BB, UK. The views expressed by contributors and

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iGB Affiliate AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2013

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affiliate events calendar Due to their popularity and wealth of information, analysis and discussion, conferences have become an integral part of the affiliate industry and a key communications bridge between affiliates and affiliate managers. Whether used for networking, education or just an excuse to meet up with friends, the affiliate conferences listed below provide all the tools you need to improve your business.

Performance Marketing Insights

Affiliate Summit East 2013

Westminster, London

Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

October 29 – 30, 2013 Performance Marketing Insights: London represents a Global Performance Marketing brand with education at the centre of the two-day event for both seasoned and new-to-market delegates, you can benefit from in excess of 40 conference sessions, 80 speakers and an exhibition hall full of new leads to take back to your business from Performance Marketing Insights: London.

August 18 – 20, 2013

www.A4UExpo.com/London/

www.affiliatesummit.com

Barcelona Affiliate Conference (BAC)

Russian Affiliate Conference and Expo (RACE)

Barcelona, Spain

Moscow, Russian Federation

October 3 – 6, 2013

October 24 – 25, 2013

iGB Affiliate’s end of summer conference returns to Barcelona to offer affiliates and programs the perfect environment to meet, learn and do business. The Barcelona Affiliate Conference is one of the key events on the affiliate calendar and continues to grow in popularity with organisers expecting 1,800 delegates.

The Russian Affiliate Conference was created to target the development of business in Russia and other CIS countries where affiliate marketing currently only accounts for around ten percent of total activity.

www.BarcelonaAffiliateConference.com

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iGB Affiliate AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2013

The Affiliate Summit was founded to provide education on the latest affiliate marketing industry issues and a productive networking environment for affiliate marketers. Today, the event brings together affiliates, networks, merchants, agencies, and vendors to meet, network, do business and learn industry best practices.

www.race-expo.ru


Discover a world of possibilities Join our global affiliate program and promote the most-recognised brands in the industry. Become a partner of the leader in digital entertainment. Add major brands to your portfolio, such as bwin with up to 30,000 daily bets, PartyPoker with over 30 million downloads and PartyCasino with more than 160 games. We work with the world’s leading sports clubs – become our affiliate and work with them too. The world’s leading gaming brands.


webmaster news

Atlantic City Casinos Choose iGaming Partners After some official prompting from New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE), Atlantic City’s landbased casinos have been busy securing partnerships with online gaming entities ahead of the opening of the state’s regulated iGaming market at the end of the year. The DGE issued preliminary deadlines by which all twelve of Atlantic City’s casinos had to clarify their online gaming plans in order to meet the scheduled November golive date, but there are already reports that this could well extend into 2014. Indeed, two casinos, Revel and Atlantic Club, are still to announce their online partners which could prolong a process that state regulators are keen to expedite. Lisa Spengler, a spokesperson for the DGE, explained that for those casinos who

do meet the deadline, “the Division will be in a position to determine if they can commence Internet gambling operations by the go-live date.” So far, the Division will be determining the fate of the ten Atlantic City casinos who have announced strategic partnerships for their online operations. Caesars Entertainment’s four casinos – Caesars, Harrah’s Resort, Bally’s and Showboat – will be powered by 888 Holdings, PokerStars has moved on from its acrimonious split from the Atlantic Club by partnering with Resorts Casino, while the two Trump-owned casinos have gone their separate ways in forming alliances; the Trump Plaza siding with UK betting exchange, Betfair, while the Trump Taj Mahal has entered into agreement with Fertitta-owned Ultimate Gaming.

MGM and Boyd have extended their partnership with bwin.party to power the Borgata casino, while Gamesys enters the US market through its alliance with the Tropicana and SHFL Entertainment acquirer, Bally Technologies, will power the Golden Nugget. The fate of Revel and Atlantic Club is firmly in their own hands, and we wait with interest to see who will be announced as interactive partners for Atlantic City’s two hardest-hit casinos. UK-based operator, 2-UP Gaming, has also entered the fray with a reported $330 million to spend, via Asian investment backers, on entering the New Jersey Market, either through an acquisition of the two remaining Atlantic City casinos, or by building its own.

Joe Barton Introduces New Federal Bill Republican Congressman, Joe Barton, has introduced proposed legislation that could see online poker legalized and regulated at the federal level. The Internet Poker Freedom Act of 2013, also known as HR 2666, was introduced by Barton in early July and, if passed, would create a system whereby states would be required to actively opt out of offering online poker. The 102-page proposed legislation includes a stipulation that would require individual states to ensure minors are prevented from playing while additionally banning the use of credit cards. “Credit card use is encouraged by regulators in other countries because they offer far greater consumer protections

than other payment vehicles,” said Michael Waxman from the Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative. “It is completely foolish and a mistake to prohibit their use. There’s no way rules can be developed to stop people from finding a way to use funds from their credit cards to gamble online. It will just make the transaction and transfer of money a lot less transparent.” The proposed legislation from Barton also mandates that programs for those with gambling problems must be established and instructs states to permit players to set their own loss limits. In addition, gamblers would be allowed to self-exclude themselves while those in non-participating states would be blocked from playing.

Finally, The Internet Poker Freedom Act of 2013 would institute severe penalties of up to one million dollars a day for companies accepting unlawful wagers, and sites convicted of such activities could be blocked from operation for up to five years. “We applaud the introduction of Mr Barton’s common-sense bill,” said John Pappas, Executive Director of the Poker Players Alliance lobby group. “While millions of Americans have been waiting for over two years for the return of online poker, the game’s popularity has certainly not waned. Thankfully, Mr Barton understands this and knows that the only logical way to guarantee players and all consumers are protected online is to take action and license and regulate the industry.”

PokerStrategy Acquired by Playtech Playtech has wasted little time in repatriating some of the funds it received from the buyout of its William Hill Online shares, announcing the €38.3 million ($49.8 million) acquisition of the renowned affiliate, PokerStrategy, in early July. The company stated that the deal will allow it to “further diversify its business by providing licensees with access to the world’s largest independent poker community with over six million members, thereby cementing existing relationships and creating incremental opportunities for both software and PTTS marketing.” Poker Strategy CEO, Damian Sokol and COO Pavel Stehno, will retain their positions after the shake-

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up, while founders Dominik Kofert and Enrique Guzmán will become consultants. The takeover will be funded by Playtech’s existing cash reserves. Profit before tax last year at PokerStrategy.com, one of the largest online poker schools and player community, and some of the acquired subsidiaries, was €19.5 million, and the group had gross assets of about €18.5 million. “The directors believe the acquisition is complementary to both Playtech’s PTTS marketing division and its overall poker offering, further strengthening Playtech’s leading position in poker and providing a communitybased model for player acquisition, which

is attractive to both social and real-money players in existing and soon to be regulated markets,” Playtech said in a statement. “The acquisition will allow Playtech to further diversify its business by providing licensees with access to the world’s largest independent poker community with over six million members, thereby cementing existing relationships and creating incremental opportunities for both software and PTTS marketing. “Given the combination of cost and revenue synergies, the acquisition is earnings enhancing.” For more on this story, see our interview with Playtech CEO, Mor Weizer, as well as analyst comment, on page 48 of this issue.


webmaster news

Full Tilt Expands to Casino Gaming The Full Tilt Poker brand is set to undergo a significant facelift that will see it become Full Tilt Gaming, a move that will bring casino gaming to its current poker-only offering. The news is significant in that Full Tilt’s owners, Rational Group, which also owns its former arch-rival PokerStars, agreed a partnership deal with Resorts Casino in Atlantic City to enter the opening iGaming market in New Jersey. The rebranding would appear to clarify the intentions of a partnership that, on paper, seemed perfectly imbalanced; Resorts Casino doesn’t have a physical poker room in its property and PokerStars does not own or provide any casino software. However, the emergence of Full Tilt Gaming would provide the Rational Group with the capability to offer Resorts a full scale casino and poker offering online via its two renowned brands.

In a statement, the Rational Group said that it “intends to expand our product offering to include casino-style games on Full Tilt Poker. While adding new games, we remain committed to building our leadership in poker with PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker and continuing to deliver the highest quality poker experience to players. These new games on Full Tilt will provide more gaming options with the same high quality player experience, integrity, security, safety and support that players have come to expect from our brands. PokerStars will continue to offer a poker-only experience.” The group has yet to comment on whether the move was established in light of its partnership with Resorts Casino, but the timing would appear significant as it marks the first time that Rational Group has extended beyond poker in its history.

Zynga Backtracks on Real Money Market Entry Social gaming company Zynga has announced that it has abandoned plans to develop real money online gambling products for the US market following disappointing quarterly financial results. Zynga confirmed that revenues for the second quarter of 2013 had nose-dived by 31 percent year-on-year to $231 million (€178 million) with the number of monthly players having dropped to 187 million from 306 million a year ago. “While the company continues to evaluate its real-money gaming products in the UK test, Zynga is making a focused choice not to pursue a license for real-money gaming in the US,” Zynga said in a statement. Zynga reported a slightly better-than-

expected quarterly net loss through to the end of June 2013 of $15.8 million. However, following the news, the company’s share price fell by up to 14 percent in after-hours trading. “We need to get back to basics and take a longer-term view on our products and business, develop more efficient processes and tighten up execution all across the company,” said Zynga Chief Executive, Don Mattrick. “We have a lot of hard work in front of us and as we reset, we expect to see more volatility in our business than we would like over the next two to four quarters.” Mattrick, the former head of Microsoft’s Xbox gaming unit, replaced Mark Pincus as CEO in early July.

Bally Technologies to Buy SHFL Entertainment Bally Technologies has signed a definitive agreement to acquire SHFL Entertainment for $1.3 billion. Bally revealed that the imminent transaction has been unanimously approved by the boards of both companies and will see it offer $23.25 in cash for each share in SHFL Entertainment. “Both Bally Technologies and SHFL Entertainment have long histories of proven innovation, excellent customer service and successfully anticipating and adapting to changes within our industry,

which makes bringing our two companies together a great strategic fit,” said Ramesh Srinivasan, President and CEO of Bally Technologies. “We believe that now is the right time to join forces with Bally Technologies as there is a unique opportunity to combine each others’ many strengths particularly our talented teams who have been the key drivers of success for each organization,” said Gavin Isaacs, CEO of SHFL Entertainment.

bet365 Affiliate Fantasy Football is Back Back by popular demand, the bet365 Affiliate Program has announced that it will be running a fantasy football league for its affiliates. This season, affiliates are allowed to register up to three teams per user name free of charge at the Barclays Premier League website. Affiliates can register by creating their team and then email their name, team name and bet365 affiliate user name to their bet365 affiliate manager. The affiliate manager will then send out the code that affiliates need to enter the league. Prizes on offer include signed football shirts from Paul Gascoigne, Cristiano Ronaldo, Diego Maradona and Pele, including the grand prize of a trip to a 2014-15 Premier League match or the 2014 Community Shield, including tickets, match day stadium tour, travel, accommodation and hospitality, plus the coveted Manager of the Season trophy. Only bet365 affiliates are eligible to enter.

bwin.party on Verge of Split? Shares in bwin.party jumped at the end of July following rumours the group was considering splitting up into regulated and unregulatedfocused operating entities. The rumoured move to a regulated markets unit, first reported by Mergermarket, would enable bwin. party to attract a broader investor base and agree further joint ventures with US casino operators, it already has agreements in place with MGM and Boyd Gaming there. bwin.party recently announced a switch of focus to ten regulated markets and plans to be among the top three operators in those markets within the next five years. A division focused on unregulated markets would enable the group to generate revenues and returns to investors without the regulatory costs the company has to bear in countries like France, Spain or Italy.

Geocomply submits first new jersey application GeoComply, the geolocation solutions provider, has become the first ancillary services company to successfully file an application with the New Jersey Department of Gaming Enforcement. The firm also recently signed a deal to support bwin.party across the company's desktop and mobile applications.

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WEBMASTER NEWS

US CONGRESS URGED TO HOLD IGAMING HEARING A MEMBER OF the United States House of Representatives from Nevada has called on Congress to hold hearings into the current state-by-state proliferation on online gambling. Democrat Dina Titus represents Nevada’s Third Congressional District, which includes most of the areas immediately outside of Las Vegas, and made her request in letters sent to the Chairman and ranking member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Titus believes that the current piecemeal approach to licensing intra-state online gambling operators could see ‘bad actors’ enter the market and she also wants the United States Senate to simultaneously look into the matter.

“Previous efforts in Congress to create a national legal framework for Internet gaming have failed and states have moved ahead of Congress to develop these laws and accompanying regulations,” wrote Titus. “It is critical that Congress create a common-sense regulatory framework to address this growing issue.” Titus wrote that federal legislation would “ensure that consumers are protected” while revealing that she intends to meet with representatives from the American Gaming Association to discuss two pieces of proposed legislation recently introduced by Congressmen Joe Barton from Texas and Peter King from the state of New York.

PADDY POWER TO LAUNCH REAL MONEY FACEBOOK APP PADDY POWER IS to become the first company to trial real-money sportsbetting on social networking website Facebook. Paddy Power In-Play, an in-house developed product, is being trialled as a Facebook application for UK desktop customers; a market the social network has selected for the initial launch of real-money gambling on the platform. The app will bring social engagement to online betting, allowing customers to bet on a range of sports through the website while also giving them the opportunity to engage with other users. Player participation will be subject to strict age verification checks. Peter O’Donovan, managing director of

Paddy Power Online, said: “The launch of the first real money sports betting product on Facebook is testament to Paddy Power's e-commerce and technology capabilities as well as our international industry leadership position in social media.” Will Collins, Facebook’s Head of Social Casino Partnerships, added: “Given the popularity of sportsbetting in the UK, we're delighted to be welcoming Paddy Power onto the Facebook gaming platform with an innovative gaming experience.” You can read more on this story in our interview with Paddy Power’s Ben O’Donnell on pages 26 – 27 of this issue.

GAMBLING SITE ACQUIRED IN BITCOINS Gambling website, SatoshiDice, has been acquired by an undisclosed buyer for $11.5 million (€8.9 million) in a deal paid for using virtual currency, Bitcoin. According to pulse2.com, the deal is reported to be worth 126,315 Bitcoins. The website offers a blockchain-based betting game where wagers can be placed without access to the website or running client software. Users send Bitcoins to the website and it picks a number before the Ghost of Satoshi then rolls a number and people that selected a number lower than the one on the dice win. Around 3.9 million of the 5.3 million bets placed have won since SatoshiDice

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launched in 2012. As of January, the company was reported to be posting income of $50,000 per month. Erik Voorhees, SatoshiDice founder, said the deal is a 277 percent premium on sale price and a 175 percent premium on the firm’s valuation. He added: “While I know some S Dice owners intended to hold for a long time and will thus be dismayed by the buyout, it is my sincere hope that this compensation level will be amenable. It is substantially higher than the contract mandates and it is almost three times higher than all private owners are being paid.”

NEWS IN BRIEF The Belgian Competition Authority has searched the offices of the Belgian National Lottery following the launch of the Scooore sportsbetting product. The regulator is investigating whether there is any cross-subsidisation between Scooore and the lottery and is also looking at whether the lottery uses information obtained through its monopoly activities to the advantage of the new sportsbetting product. The lottery said that it is co-operating fully with the inspectors. Nevada-based Ultimate Gaming has received final approval from the state’s gaming commission for Ultimate Poker, the first fully-legal online gambling website to be launched in the United States. The Nevada Gaming Commission granted approval after a successful 30-day trial of the product. Meanwhile, Mike Britt has joined Ultimate Gaming as vicepresident of market development and government affairs. Britt will be responsible for new market development and legislative efforts to pave the way for operations in realmoney online gaming jurisdictions. Online gambling software developer Net Entertainment has signed a partnership with Ladbrokes to supply a selection of online desktop and mobile games to the betting company. “Net Entertainment’s exposure in the UK has increased significantly over the past year, which is in line with our strategic plan to build up a solid and long-term business venture together with our UK partners,” said Net Entertainment Managing Director Bjorn Krantz. “Ladbrokes will initially launch with a few of Net Entertainment’s best-in-class games, which will gradually grow over time.” Facebook is reportedly gearing up to offer real-money gaming products in Italy and Spain following a successful UK trial of the service. The social network rolled out real-money gaming products in the UK last year and is now preparing to make them available to users throughout Italy and Spain. Facebook recently launched a sportsbetting application in the UK in partnership with Irish bookmaker Paddy Power. In breaking news as this issue went to print, Dominik Kofert, co-Founder of the now Playtechowned PokerStrategy.com, has left etruvian, the firm behind the company he founded, selling his shares to his co-founder, Enrique Guzman in a blind bid auction.


TRAFFIC

Looking for the Perfect Link

Site-Related Factors Despite what Google keeps telling webmasters, links are still the key component of its ranking algorithm. In this new article series, we will take an in-depth look at the factors influencing the final value of a link, learning how to pick the best links and possibly influence their value. Google has historically tried to stir webmasters’ attention away from links as much as possible, stressing the importance of usability, content length, content quality and, most recently, ‘shares’1. One of the main reasons Google is doing this is so that despite still being the key component of its algorithm, links are also a factor that can be easily manipulated and tweaked. Despite all the preventive measures adopted by Google, a webmaster working in the right way can still intentionally improve their sites’ rankings by increasing the amount of quality backlinks to their sites and cherry-picking the best link acquisition opportunities. In this article series, we will look at factors which may influence the way in which Google perceives and scores each link, seeing how to evaluate and possibly influence them. This first article will look at factors related to the linking site.

Indexing condition In order for a linking site to pass positive value your site, it must, of course, be ‘crawlable’ by Google, which can be verified by checking the robots.txt of the site and using Google’s site: operator. In addition, it is also important to make sure the linking site is not currently banned or heavily penalised by Google. This can often be detected in the following ways: ●●Performing a (site:linkingsite.com) search in Google, for which the homepage should be the first result displayed.

●●Analysing

the linking site’s public traffic stats in tools such as Alexa.com, Compete.com or Searchmetrics.com.

Genuineness Google is making great efforts to identify and devaluate ‘fake’ sites. Examples of ‘fake’ sites are revived domains, sites piggybacking on other sites’ domain authority or sites cloaking their content, showing different versions of the same page to search engines and users. Another possible example of a ‘fake’ site is a site intentionally ‘faking’ PageRank or recycling other people’s content or domains through the use of frames and iframes – all to trick fellow webmasters into thinking its site is high quality. The genuineness of a site can be assessed in several ways: ●●Performing a check on historical versions of the site on Archive.org. ●●Verifying that if a site is hosted on a subdomain, that it is related to the main domain. ●●Verifying that the site makes no tricky use of framed content. ●●Verifying that the site’s live pages match their copy in Google’s cache.

PageRank, trust and authority PageRank and other link-related metrics are still a good way to measure a site’s quality, especially when no big discrepancies between the values in the metrics used by different tools are found. Possible metrics to use for this purpose are: 1

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●●PageRank ●●MozRank

(Moz.com) (Moz.com) ●●Trust Flow (MajesticSEO.com) ●●Citation Flow (MajesticSEO.com) ●●MozTrust

Age and history of the site/domain Just as a restaurant’s history can be perceived as a positive signal by its customers, a site’s age also has a significant impact on the value given to it by search engines. More than the domain’s age per-se, the main factor influencing the site’s value is possibly the age of the links pointing to it, which depend more on the age of the site than on the age of the domain where the site is available. Other elements which may influence search engines’ perception of a site are related to changes of ownership and periods during which the domain was ‘dropped’ and left abandoned, which may trigger re-evaluations of the site and reset measures. A background check on the history, age and changes of ownership of a site/ domain can be performed via the following tools: ●●Archive.org (For site age and historical versions of the site) ●●DomainTools.com (For domain age, historical ‘whois’ data and changes in ownerships) ●●MajesticSEO.com (For historical link profile checks)

http://searchengineland.com/google-changes-ranking-advice-says-build-quality-sites-not-links-163931 2 http://www.davidnaylor.co.uk/seo-2012.html


TRAFFIC

Link profile Just as the link profile of your site influences Google’s perception of its quality, the backlink profile of the sites linking to you influence the value passed by their links. A good way to measure the quality of a site’s link profile is to look at PR/Trust Flow/ Citation Flow distribution across its linking domains, at the proportion between total amount of backlinks and linking domains and at the proportion between linking domains and linking IPs/Networks. The tool I commonly use to perform link profile analysis is MajesticSEO.com, but Moz.com offers similar features.

Outgoing links High-quality sites tend to carefully select the sites they link to, which results in very few outgoing links and only then towards high-quality sites, so if the site linking to you is only linking to a few high quality sites, this is definitely a good signal. In order to see what sites are getting linked to by a specific site it is possible to use Bing’s linkfromdomain operator with the following syntax: (linkfromdomain:linkingsite.com), possibly combining the operator with niche-related keywords, to see what other sites in your field are being linked by your prospect link partner.

Relations with other sites and networks In its effort to identify link schemes, Google is constantly trying to identify networks of sites related to each other. Such networks can be spotted thanks to several factors accessible to webmasters as well, and if a network of sites is spotted one should proceed with caution in deciding to acquire more links from the same network or even just one link, depending on the quality of the network as a whole and not only from that of the linking site. Examples of such factors are: ●●IP (Recommended tool: ShowIP Firefox plug-in) ●●Whois (Recommended tool: DomainTools.com) ●●AdSense/Analytics codes (Recommended tool: Whorush.com) ●●Template content

Semantic affinity One could say that, in general, the closer the topic of a linking site is to the topic of the linked-to site, the higher the possibility

Figure 1

Generalisation process for the “online poker” topic

Videogames

that the link gets counted as trustworthy and reliable for searches concerning a certain topic. However, getting links from generic, off-topic sites is very common, especially if the topic of a linking site is still somewhat related to that of the linked-to site. In this case, proceeding by progressive generalisation allows for the identification of topics for potential ‘natural-looking’ linking sites, as illustrated in Figure 1.

Local and geographical factors Down the years, Google has been giving more and more importance to local factors, to the point that search results are today influenced directly by the location of the user performing the query even when the query is not location-specific2. Apart from queries related to physical betting shops, this dominance of local results is not yet so perceived in the gambling world. However, for several years, a great deal of importance has been placed on local factors on a country-level scale, and these factors also influence the value given to each of the links composing your link profile by Google. To put it in simple words, this means that the more ‘local’ a link is, the better it is. In this case, the elements to look for are (in order of importance): ●●Local language ●●Listed as local by Google (check the ‘sites from’ filter) ●●Local TLDs ●●Local hosting

Content quality With all the attention Google has given to content quality in recent years, culminating in the release of the notorious Panda update, one can be sure that content quality also pays a role in the value assigned to the links placed on a site. In this case, the main aspects you may want to consider are: ●●How much ‘real’ content is there on the site? ●●Is such content unique? ●●How often is the site updated? ●●Is such content written by real people?

●●Are

the authors and publisher verified via Google’s authorship tags rel=author and rel=publisher? ●●What is the ads/content rate?

Rankings Finally, the factor that essentially summarises all of the points mentioned in this article: rankings. As Google ranks sites based on its perception of their relevance and quality, one can be sure that the rankings achieved by a site within a certain niche are a result of Google’s evaluation of the points mentioned in this article, and possibly many more. Therefore, if you want the sites linking to you to be the best possible sites, you should definitely look for those that are steadily ranking well for your target keywords. As we have seen, there are several siterelated aspects that search engines can take into consideration when evaluating incoming links. Still, they are just a small part of the big picture. In the next instalment of this series, we will look at page-specific aspects to continue our quest to ‘look for the perfect link’.

Matteo Monari is the COO of BizUp, a result-driven Internet marketing agency specialising in competitive segments and international link building (http://www. bizupmedia.com). With a background in Languages and Human Computer Interaction, Matteo has been a successful Internet marketing specialist for more than six years. During his career, he has worked for some of the biggest affiliates and operators in the iGaming world, helping them to successfully expand their businesses across Europe. After heading the SEO department of Europe’s leading content-on-demand company, Matteo is now leading BizUp’s link building team, providing links in five languages to clients in more than fifteen different countries. You can follow him on Twitter as @matteo_monari and contact him at m.monari@bizupmedia.com.

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TRAFFIC

Website Design Tips and Social Media Guide 2013

By John Wright, SEO and design consultant at horseshoeagency.com and editor and affiliate coach at Gaffg.com. There is always constant change in design and technology and to some, it might seem like the rate of change is too great. For some websites, it seems like the need to redesign, re-programme and update becomes time consuming and sometimes expensive. If your website was built in 2011, it might even be considered obsolete right now. Finding a graphic designer to make you a website isn’t a problem at all, but finding one that knows how to properly integrate all of these changes into making an effective website can be. Within the website design industry, some might have noticed the acronyms ‘UI’ or ‘UX’ which stand for User Interface and User Experience. This refers to the design, and is more than just creating an effective menu and navigation system for your users. So what can you expect from standard website designs, templates and most graphic designers? Most websites are not ready for mobile. It is getting easier to format websites for responsive design but not all designers are there yet. Some designs have duplicate content built into it. Rich snippets is at least something that is easy to update in the code but still needs to be planned. Last but not least is social media which is probably more important than people realise. Most designers know social media is ‘in fashion’ so they naturally throw the popular social media sites’ icons onto the website, and it’s done: now you have a website with social media. Most new webmasters don’t usually

understand how social media is supposed to be utilised in a website and many webmasters are adding it with no real strategy on how to integrate it into their marketing. Before we dig deeper into proper social media integration into a website, let’s look at all of the elements that are important not only for design, but planning a new website: ●●Mobile traffic ●●Tablet/iPad users ●●Google Panda updates ●●Rich snippets and microdata ●●Social media

Mobile traffic Most websites are not mobile friendly at all; that is, they are not formatted for responsive design or they don’t have a separate mobile version of the website. With mobile phone sales expected to double PC sales in 2014, how can you not have your website ready for mobile? If your site isn’t mobile friendly, then you will be missing out on traffic and sales. If mobile users can’t get their information and entertainment from your website on their mobile phone, they’ll find it from another website. As for iPad and tablet users, they are a different market to deal with but you at least want to test to make sure your website formats well for these devices and is readable and functional.

Google Panda updates Since most designers don’t know much about SEO, their designs usually have more emphasis on the visual aspects of the site and they see text as ‘boring’. If you are working with these types of designers, your job is to make sure that you have text and content on every page of your website, or at least every page that matters to you. Another mistake some designers can make – and is no fault of their own – is embedding duplicate content into the design; that is, every page contains a section that has the same text on every page. In some cases, this makes sense as, perhaps, at the end of the pages you need to have a call-to-action (CTA) to try to lead the user to a sale. If there is too much of this repeating text on every page, then this is classed as duplicate content on your own site and isn’t helpful for SEO. This can also be a sign of lazy design and/or cost cutting.

So what do website design and Google Panda have to do with each other? Google’s Panda update was specifically meant to target websites that are weak or ‘thin’ on content. So if your website designer has given you a beautiful-looking landing page but left no real section for content and text, it is going to create a problem. In some cases, landing pages are extremely important and are almost

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Figure 1

“When you think of social media, think about retention. Facebook ‘likes’ and Twitter ‘follows’ are now more than just bragging rights… they are social signals that can be used as ranking factors.”

impossible to inject much text into. The simple solution to this problem is to provide the content and text below the landing page elements.

Rich snippets and microdata This aspect of your website is not usually the responsibility of the designer unless they are coding the website for you as well. If this is the case, then you’ll want to ensure your website has the edge on your competition. An easy way to generate more traffic is by adding rich snippets which increases the click through rates of your rankings in the search engine. How can you add rich snippets/ microdata into your website code to appear in the search engines? ●●Five or ten-star ratings ●●Authorship ●●Image/product thumbnail ●●Video thumbnail Many of the top gambling portals have some form of rich snippets in their site. The most common is the star rating, and people should expect to see a rise in authorship if Google starts rewarding websites that have authors displayed on their website. The theory is that authorship implies quality and quality sites will have an easier time ranking. (See Figure 1 for an example showing authorship.)

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Social media When people in this industry say “I don’t get social media”, I don’t blame them. Some websites probably need social media less than others. Either way, social media will forever affect website designs and can no longer be ignored.

How does social media relate to your website? ●●Social

signals affect SEO ●●Driving social traffic to your websites and sharing ●●Retention ●●Communication and support Let’s break these points down, one by one, and explain how they should work with your website design and user experience. Afterwards, we’ll explain how websites incorrectly use social media. Many websites are adding social media for no other reason than because others are doing it. While they have probably made the right decision, at least, they need to understand why.

Social signals affect SEO According to a recent article from SearchMetrics.com, social signals are proven to influence your rankings. Many SEOs are all stating that the question is not whether social media affects SEO, but rather how much it affects SEO.

Why would social media affect your ranking efforts? Most social media sites are ‘nofollow’ links while some can be ‘follow’. No matter how you look at it, it is a form of link building. Some links on Google+ appear to be follow and it could be a reason some webmasters might want to focus more on Google+ and less on Facebook.

Driving social traffic to your websites and sharing Aside from some possible SEO benefits, try to look at different social media as traffic opportunities. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube and Pinterest have so many people using them, and they are also search engines too. When people ‘like’ and ‘share’ your pages and content, this creates more opportunities for people to StumbleUpon (pun intended) your website.

Retention Retention is huge, so much so, this section should probably have been called RETENTION instead. If email marketing is such a valuable tool then you have to consider all other social networks that allow people to follow you or your brand. Many websites try really hard to get someone to join their newsletter – and it can actually be difficult – but asking someone to ‘like’ their Facebook page is just a single click.


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Figure 2

That single click now has them following your Facebook feed and gives you a chance to get your message out to them. The same goes for Twitter, Google+ and many more. Getting someone to like or follow you is going to be easier to do and it allows you to message a customer, as not all will bookmark your website or remember it. Even if you get their email, you then have to worry about whether your emails are making it through spam filters; you don’t have this problem with Facebook. So, when you have new products and services to launch, it is only natural that you would first write about it, then email your newsletter subscribers, and then share it on social media sites. When you think of social media, think about retention. Facebook ‘likes’ and Twitter ‘follows’ are now more than just bragging rights for numbers of followers. They are social signals that can be used as ranking factors, giving you a chance to contact them again.

your customers. In the past, (physical) newspapers had all of the media power and could either advertise a brand or write a bad story about them, so a company’s public relations were easier to handle. Now, a single person can leave a negative comment about your brand that can be viewed and shared by many. These issues are nearly impossible to ignore and hands power back to the customers. Therefore, you can add brand management and reputation to the purposes of social media.

Incorrect use of social media It is easy for both designers and webmasters to misuse social media sites as the buttons and features offered are getting more customised and complex every day. The standard features are typically to follow them on social media and to like and share one of their pages specifically. Some common misuses of social media:

1. Sharing buttons on all pages Communication and support Social media sites are communication tools. Many years ago, your business communication tools were telephone, postal mail and fax machine. Now, we have Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, all types of mobile phone chat apps and social media which can act like private and public emailing; you can do business on these tools with

Not every page needs a social sharing button. Typically, you would have this for blog posts or content that you really want people to share, but some pages were never meant for sharing.

2. Social media buttons Some websites only link to their social media page (Facebook, for example).

This can be a mistake where you are taking the user away from your site and adding another step to like or follow your page. Use your social media buttons wisely, try to get them to like or follow your pages but keep them away from Facebook; otherwise you’ll probably get them playing Candy Crush, by which time they will have totally forgotten about your site.

3. Social media conflicting with calls-to-action Try to remember you have calls-to-action you need to address on every page. You do want people to like, follow or share your content, but if there is a sale to be made or something you want the user to do, don’t ruin the conversion process by sending your users back to Facebook to play Candy Crush. In short, planning a new website is a lot of work if you want to do it in the best way possible. If you focus on conversions and calls-to-action, the rest should fall into place. John Wright is an SEO and design consultant at horseshoeagency.com, and is also the editor and affiliate coach of Gaffg.com. He has been in the online gambling industry for over ten years. He can be reached at john@horseshoeagency.com.

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International SEO Following his presentation at June’s Amsterdam Affiliate Conference, OBAN Multilingual’s Jonathan Murphy gives us the lowdown on the optimisation of campaigns for international markets. Market selection When looking to launch the most successful digital marketing campaigns internationally, having control over which markets you can select is fairly paramount. Most will already have this, but fail to carry out the effective analysis and research to understand which will be the best markets beyond looking at the price tag on the overall market size. There are a huge number of factors which should contribute to your decision but they are rarely taken into account – when they are, they can lead to a much more successful and fruitful international expansion. What are the things to look at? Well, a good starting point is how many people are online in that specific market – check Internet World Stats (www.internetworldstats.com). As search engines work by country, not language, the opportunity only lies within the country you are targeting alone, as opposed to how many people speak that respective language globally. Therefore, you might want to check how many potential customers there are in total in the region to understand the kind of opportunity you’re exposing yourself to. Sound obvious? It is! But delve deeper and look at the penetration rate with this statistic (also found on Internet World Stats) to understand where the market is in its growth cycle – this is the sweet spot. There are a couple of things to look out for. Markets with a high Internet audience and low penetration rate represent some of the best opportunities to target globally. This generally means you’re dealing with a developing country which is starting to hit its Internet boom and can offer the kind of quick win and mid-term opportunities that markets like the UK did five to six years ago. The competition is likely to be lower, therefore, going in now and establishing a presence shouldn’t be as difficult and there is already a large base to work with once you’re there. By getting that presence now you can then reap the rewards of that boom in the coming years. Examples include Russia, Poland, Turkey and most of Latin America.

This doesn’t mean you should disregard the high penetration markets as being ‘over-saturated’ – in many respects they are, however, the high penetration rate markets also represent the savviest users who are typically more comfortable buying from non-local websites. This includes markets like Scandinavia and the Netherlands. So, if you’re expanding to a territory which isn’t your host market, then these can be great places to target. Generally, you want a 90 percent-plus penetration rate for the sweet spot before you’re dealing with a market that won’t necessarily be happy to buy from non-local domains. There are only a few of them globally. In terms of global Internet ‘usership’ growth in general, it’s worth expanding on the high audience/low penetration markets. In general, whilst the developed world is still growing well in terms of the numbers of people coming online, it’s the developing world where there is the most exciting boom. Probably the best hot-spot region within this is Latin America where some markets are offering search traffic on a plate for those savvy enough to go and target it and launch a good local search campaign.

online buyer in Norway actually spends almost twice as much in a single year than an average shopper in Germany: €987 to €554 respectively. This means that if you’re looking to launch something like a PPC campaign, your individual bang-for-buck per buyer is likely to be vastly higher than in Germany. If you’re working to a set/ finite budget, then you’ll probably find that you’ll get far greater rewards in these regions than some of the ‘big markets’. It’s also the case, as mentioned in Scandinavia, that consumers are generally used to buying from non-local sites due to the lower number of domestic brands and smaller online environments. They’re also savvy with most common online payment options – another significant element in achieving the best conversion rates.

Looking beyond total market revenue

Localised keyword research

It’s also worth looking beyond total market revenue in order to understand what your ‘bang-for-buck’ will be. All too often in Europe, we see companies charging into the big four online markets outside the UK: France, Italy, Spain and Germany. Whilst these countries undoubtedly offer a huge audience if you’re launching targeted campaigns, have limited budgets, and are trying your first non-domestic campaigns, there are other regions where you may find you get a much better ROI initially. Key examples of this would be the Scandinavian markets, where, compared to Germany for example, a market like Norway offers a measly €7 million in total size compared to €56 million. The average

Launching successful campaigns In previous articles, I’ve gone into a number of considerations affiliates should make when approaching nondomestic campaigns and how search – and therefore search strategies – need to diversify in various countries in order to achieve the best results. My biggest tips are the following:

Keywords are the basis of any search campaign; you want to know the words you want to rank highly for (hopefully) in order to mould an effective contentled campaign around them. The biggest mistake affiliates and operators make in international search is to translate their lists of keywords from country to country. This fails to account for the nuances in local online language (of which there are plenty), the differences in what audiences are interested in, and the competition levels (hugely important in areas like gaming). By doing this, you are already starting off at a real disadvantage. Be smarter and carry out effective local research using native people in each country to uncover the best gems of opportunity.

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Localised ads and content Just like keywords, localising or copywriting ads from country to country is generally a very poor practice. As well as things like character sets – which may take a hit in languages like German and Russian – you’re failing to take into account that people in different countries are actually, well, quite different. The things that will make a German user click on your ad or SERP results are going to be fairly different to why someone will do that in Russia. Carrying out effective research to understand your USPs for each market, how online users behave, what they want to see, etc, is vitally important. In Germany, for example, users like you to get to the point quickly: so, avoid slogans and marketing fluff, and get to the point.

 

Top 10 Internet Counties in Europe June 30, 2012

Search engines Google is very dominant in the Western world. A general rule of thumb would be that for anything west of Central Europe (inclusive), you’re OK with targeting Google as it will have an 85 percent-plus market share in most countries, apart from the US where Yahoo! and Bing also have a decent share. As you go further east, local engines such as Yandex in Russia, Baidu in China and Naver in Korea become more prevalent, and all have different algorithms, different PPC platforms and nuances in how results are displayed. Launching tailored strategies for these engines is important algorithmically to get you better results, but also to get you greater visibility through being strategic about the number of keywords you can target for each one, depending on the differences in where people click on a page. On top of the three points mentioned, I’d also line up local social media awareness, domain strategy and local link building expertise as other real critical areas where you’ll need to diversify in order to get the best results. In all, from market selection to launching your campaign, you should be thinking by country, and treating each market as a unique target which needs its own strategy built on research and knowledge. If you do this, you’ll be doing what most others won’t and will find your international expansion story much more fruitful.

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Top Internet Countries in Asia June 30, 2012


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iGaming

the State of Search We had been in discussion with the editor at iGaming affiliate for a while about creating a ‘state of the nation’ dataset on affiliate marketing on Google in the UK, and after a lot of research and data crunching, we came up with some very insightful information, writes Nick Garner, CEO of SearchWorks Digital. To create this insight, we had to look at the top 20 search results for the 210 biggest keywords in iGaming, broken down into 60 keywords each for poker, casino and sportsbetting and 30 for bingo because the tail was so short; i.e. there are only a few phrases in bingo worth ranking for. We analysed 73,793 separate search results over a 19-month period. The 4,326 unique domains that came up in the search results were split out between casino, poker, sportsbetting and bingo and were then manually tagged up as either ‘Other’ i.e. non-iGaming, ‘Affiliate’ or ‘Operator’. To do all this number crunching, we use a lot of Excel. We gather data using a mix of APIs and direct scraping. To make Excel more efficient, we use a significant amount of VBA scripting along with a plug-in called PowerPivot to push Excel to its limits. And it’s all housed on a powerful remote server so it doesn’t lock down anyone’s machine. And in case you’re wondering why we’re clunking around with Excel, generation 2 of the Share of Search tool will run on a database. So let’s get on and look at the findings.

Overview summary The data shows affiliates are having a tough time. Google is progressively making it harder for affiliates, so those who have fewer resources or knowledge in SEO are getting squeezed out of Google.

Churn If you look at search results from a ‘churn’ point of view – i.e. the percentage of web pages still around after one year within the top 20 for a particular keyword – affiliates come off worst compared to operators, but not by a huge margin. (See Figure 1) On average across poker, casino sportsbetting and bingo, only 25 percent of affiliate pages rank top 20 after a year, 36 percent for operators and, surprisingly, only 21 percent for ‘other’ sites.

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Search visibility If you look at the same dataset from a search visibility point of view – i.e. who occupies the top 20, accounting for search volume and cost per click – then affiliates have lost about half of their search visibility, going from 45 percent down to 30.75 percent. Most of this loss is not because operators are out-competing affiliates, it’s the near doubling of share from the ‘other’ category of sites. The main offenders are sites like Wikipedia.com, imdb.com and bet.com. The volatility in search visibility in casino is very different from poker, bingo and sportsbetting. This is because the new funded account values are so high and the number of ‘money’ phrases so low that spammers constantly attack casino search engine ranking positions (SERPs), leading to a lot of churn and volatility.

especially relevant to sportsbetting because the spread of keywords is vast compared to segments like bingo and casino. Sportsbetting works well for affiliates because the revenues per customer are solid and the spread of keywords relevant to betting is substantial. In other words, it has a very ‘long tail’.

Share of visibility – poker Comment: affiliates are holding out against everyone, however, operators are being hammered by the ‘other’ category. Insight: there are very few pure ‘money’ phrases in poker i.e. ‘online poker’, but there is a huge appetite for news and skill content in poker that affiliates are very good at ranking on. The gains from the ‘other’ category are coming from sites like Wikipedia.

Share of visibility – bingo Detail: search visibility To understand why this is an important metric, we need to explain how it works. We take a keyword, and then: ●●Get the paid search cost per click (CPC) figures ●●The local search volume (VOL), in this case, UK figures ●●We then multiply CPC x VOL x click through rate (CTR) percentage with 1st being the highest and 20th being the lowest. (The CTR figures came from a large study by optify.com) ●●Run these calculations for each domain and end up with a table of results ●●Aggregate all the search results from the 210 keywords ●●Tabulate them using Excel

Share of visibility – sportsbetting Comment: we are at an interesting juncture with sportsbetting because, as we see, affiliates have been tied very closely with operators for months now. Insight: affiliates are great at plugging niches, this is

Comment: as you can see in Figure 4, operators had dominated for a long time, however, they are losing out to ‘other’ sites. Bingo has been stable because operators have dominated over the last year and a half. Insight: it seems to be easy for operators to re-skin a site and launch a new bingo brand targeting a specific audience, so every niche of this keyword set appears to have been filled by operators. Also, affiliates have typically stayed away from bingo because of the low acquisition values, and it’s likely this trend will continue.

Share of visibility – casino Comment: where there is money, there are affiliates and Figure 5 demonstrates how there has been a constant battle between affiliates and operators. Insight: Penguin has been especially aggressive here. Straight after Penguin, the most aggressive black hat spammers were gaining substantial visibility, however, Google released an update to target sites that would ‘pop’ from nowhere, rank for


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Figure 1: Churn Rates in iGaming

Figure 2: Share of Visibility – Sportsbetting

Figure 3: Share of Visibility – Poker

Figure 4: Share of Visibility – Bingo

Figure 5: Share of Visibility – Casino

Figure 6: Overall Trends Across iGaming

two weeks and be manually penalised. As a result, affiliate share has tanked in favour of operators. If you want to understand how to game Google, then watching the best spammers who rank on keyword ‘online casino’ is a good start. Analysing these sites is a separate case study, which we plan to do another time.

too resourceful, operators need them and there is too much money to be made. Longer-term outlook: in search terms, we are in times of massive flux. Whilst Google appears to favour operators, they too are having big problems with SEO. ‘Not provided’ is becoming a real headache because it means a lack of attribution for SEO internally and compounding this is the doubling risk of a penalty from four percent (i.e. 1-in-20) to eight percent (i.e. 1-in-12.5) in the last 19 months (we did a large report on this recently) Risk and lack of attribution means only the resourceful and knowledgeable operators will fight it out, and since affiliates outnumber operators by about three-to-one, it’s very likely affiliates will fight back and regain share of search in time.

Who are the winning operators and affiliates?

Overview across iGaming affiliate Here (Figure 6) we have the overall trends across iGaming, aggregating poker, casino, sportsbetting and bingo. Comment: as mentioned earlier, affiliates are having a tough time. The question is where everything will settle. Insight: ultimately, Google cannot squeeze out all affiliates because they are

Affiliate

July 15, 2013

Operator

July 15, 2013

onlinecasinos.co.uk

£615,394

paddypower.com

£2,441,645

casinoaction.com

£293,347

jackpotcity.co.uk

£2,287,453

ukcasino-club.co.uk

£292,817

ladbrokes.com

£1,359,437

freeslots.com

£ 201,014

williamhill.com

£1,190,097

loquax.co.uk

£147,904

skyvegas.com

£1,155,950

safe-online-casino.co.uk

£129,077

32red.com

£781,468

onlinecasino.co.uk

£109,179

partypoker.com

£378,314

freebingo.co.uk

£101,701

galabingo.com

£317,308

jackpot.co.uk

£93,697

foxybingo.com

£254,307

oddschecker.com

£85,930

888.com

£195,735

If you take ‘winning’ as the most revenue generating, then it is casino affiliates. Onlinecasinos.co.uk takes the crown as the most revenue generating affiliate in the UK right now. Paddypower.com is the most successful operator. The table (below left) shows the top ten domains by monthly value of search, broken into affiliates and operators.

Final thoughts Data is beautiful. It clarifies things and with clarity comes good decisions. This is why, as a company, SearchWorks Digital is collectively a bit obsessed with good data. This report answers a lot of questions and it raises several others around what it takes to be a winning affiliate. As they say, ‘go where the money goes’, and that is in casino. In future reports, we will dig into more detail around specific disciplines, looking at the winners and losers, the macro trends and what it takes to win.

Nick Garner is CEO of SearchWorks Digital, an iGaming Specialist Search marketing agency based in London and Leeds.

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INTERVIEW

Y E N O M L A E R E K O TH O B E C A F N O IS on g app in t t to the e b s ooks in nies port s b s y t r e o n o ompa the sp real m rge of ming c a e first a h h g t c alks h w e c e he f filiate t laun t f ing th f o A d t o a B s e le a iG ut. w ly on issue, that it ok deb not on ion as o is it g s s b h a in e o T c w c p l. n r s e e ou ring Fa cing it chann y Pow In ann pionee reinfor social , Padd t k ’s e r u o h e b t o , f w b a Face dy Po rasp o g aren ctive g harge of Pad gamin e f l f e ia c d o s an in c active e man with an ’Donnell, th O to Ben

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INTERVIEW

“Taking creative risks while providing a trusted betting platform is what we are known for, and this app is the perfect example of that.” How long has the social sportsbetting platform been in the making – when was the decision taken to build a real money presence on Facebook? We first started speaking to Facebook about real money gambling back in 2012. This was a big step for Facebook so they wanted to pioneer the initial offering of real money apps with trusted partners. Paddy Power has been at the forefront of the industry in terms of using Facebook for customer engagement, as well as investing behind our social betting product BetDash, so we have a good pedigree when it came to them choosing a partner. How important do you see the social channel in terms of progressing the Paddy Power brand through real money products – is it the next big sea-change for the industry? Paddy Power already has a strong following on Facebook with nearly a million ‘likes’ on our company page. It is early days in terms of seeing what kind of uptake we get for real money sportsbetting, but clearly, there is potential for an overlap. Real money sportsbetting is our core competency so we hope we’re in as good a position as anyone to make a success of this product. In terms of product suitability for social gambling, what are the specific challenges that sportsbetting faces over other products – is it a more challenging product than, say, bingo, given the inherent community nature of the latter? Bingo and slots offerings on Facebook have a relatively well established template to follow. With sports, we were really starting from scratch. I believe sports

bettors are extremely community driven. Conversations around sport hold inherent value to people as there are opinions and insights that can be tapped into. A friend buying a bingo ticket or playing a slot machine holds less interest. The key for us will be understanding exactly how our users want to share. People love sharing their wins with friends and exchanging knowledge and banter on sporting events. Having a bespoke sportsbetting app on Facebook will allow them to surround themselves with likeminded people. You are still in the testing and development stage and are expecting a Beta version to be launching soon. Just explain the process of what happens during this testing phase – how and what are you testing? We will be testing every aspect of the game with a select group of players initially to ensure that we are providing the best possible experience. Ensuring that the interface is easy to use and the social features are working as expected will be a very high priority. We also need to ensure that all of the backend betting functionality is rock solid as we are dealing with real money. What have you learnt so far from the tests? Through the process of internal testing, we have learnt that we will never stop learning. Apps on Facebook evolve with their audience so we have committed to constantly improving our offering through listening to customer feedback and keeping on top of what our users want. We are looking forward to seeing some real user data to back up our own observations.

From the consumer’s perspective, how different an experience will social sportsbetting be to their usual online or mobile accounts? The important thing here is that we are not trying to fundamentally change the core betting mechanism. The app enables you to place real bets on real events in real-time. The social aspect is a layer on top of this which allows people to build their own community of sports fans and bettors and use their social graph to augment their own choices, as well as adding a healthy dose of banter. The social features are there to enhance the core experience and hopefully make the overall experience more engaging. Once testing is complete, are there plans further down the road to expand the social offering to other products like bingo and casino? We want to focus on real money sportsbetting for now and see where we can build that opportunity. Paddy Power is seen as a forwardthinking and risk-taking brand – do you feel that this move is testament to that outlook and does it help to reinforce the company’s brand values? Paddy Power prides itself as being forward-thinking and we are always pushing the boundaries in marketing, social content, promotions and with our cutting edge product portfolio. But we are also a trusted and responsible gambling operator which is why Facebook has chosen to partner with us. Taking creative risks while providing a trusted betting platform is what we are known for, and this app is the perfect example of that.

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Digital Casino FoCus

ROUND TABLE DISCUSSION

ASSESSING THE MODERN CASINO AFFILIATE SECTOR According to certain reports that you will read, including within this issue of iGB Affiliate, the online casino sector still represents one of the best opportunities for affiliates when it comes to monetary returns and business opportunities. To gauge the current state of play within the sector, we asked the opinions of three prominent figures within the space.

What is the current health of the online casino sector? Ian Simms, Prominent Casino Affiliate (IS): I’d say ‘buoyant’. There are lots of new games coming out, expanding product lines and there is a general air of enthusiasm. The main issue now is that the diversity on offer is going so far that many operators are ending up with the same, if far more diverse, product offerings. Every UK bookmaker pretty much has the same thing now. Michaela McNamara, Editor, CasinoAffiliatePrograms.com (MM): There’s definitely a positive shift taking place. Although the US is slowly regulating online casinos and gambling, it’s exciting to see popular and influential land-based casinos preparing to expand their offerings to the online world.

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iGB Affiliate august/september 2013

On the other hand, a boost in social casinos has proven to be lucrative for companies and affiliates alike. The success of DoubleDown Casino has been a great indicator of the health of social casinos, with its parent company, IGT, seeing companywide revenues rising 8.7 percent to $579 million in Q2 2013. What have been the biggest changes to the online casino sector in recent years, good and bad, that have affected how affiliates and programs operate in the space? Claire Granger, Marketing Operations Manager, Fortune Affiliates (CG): The biggest changes have come from market regulation, mobile development and Google updates. Google algorithm updates found the majority of affiliates losing their rankings overnight. The good news is that, as always, affiliates have adapted and have

been able to get their rankings up. Market regulation has also had an enormous effect on operators and affiliates. Operators have to assess the regulations in the different jurisdictions, decide where to licence, investigate the markets, fully understand the regulations and closely follow these rules to ensure consumer protection. Affiliates need to understand the rules around advertising and make sure that they follow them. On the upside, conversions are higher as players only register with the intention to play, and offline marketing by the operator increases brand awareness and trust, assisting the affiliate in acquisitions. In addition, the global mobile market has grown exponentially since the advent of Smartphones. The evolution of hardware, especially screen size, has facilitated a richer user experience and greater interaction.


Digital Casino Focus

These advances have fuelled immense growth in the mobile gaming sector as mobile handsets and tablets can more easily accommodate a better gaming product. Due to this, operators are seeing a huge uptake via these devices. The volume of mobile searches by device has increased to 50 percent of all Google searches, changing the SEO and PPC landscape. MM: Regulation in the US and abroad (particularly Germany and France) and social gaming seem to be the two biggest changes to the industry as a whole. For both affiliates and programs, it’s going to be crucial to be on the forefront to position yourself for US regulation. Although it’s taking a while, affiliates and operators should remain positive that it will happen and there is going to be money in it. Get your business aligned to work in the US. Just like anything new, you need to strike while the iron is hot. The faster you can move, the more lucrative the opportunity will be. IS: A number of programs have attempted to reign-in expenses, which is understandable considering the economic climate, and some of these changes have been aimed at the affiliate channel. They have met strong opposition when those changes have been retroactively applied, but the good news for affiliates is that there is now plenty of choice with whom to work with so it’s easy to change provider. Mobile acquisition is starting to have an impact while social has diverted many resources away from more traditional recruiting grounds, for better for worse. Consolidation seems to have been slower in the casino sector, which I am personally happy about. What are proving to be the best crossselling products for casino players? MM: Slots. Think about some commonalities between casinos and slots. Both games offer a chance at a windfall payday for a small upfront risk. Additionally, there isn’t a lot of intellectual strength needed to participate in either form of gaming. Both casino and slot machines offer fun and excitement without the stress of decision-making. Slots can be viewed as the gateway game to get players excited about other casino game offerings.

What are the specific challenges and opportunities associated with mobile and social casino – what should affiliates be doing to be effective on both channels? IS: Mobile screen size is an obvious drawback for games players. The biggest issue for me is that mobile users don’t want to type, and casino sign-up forms don’t recognise this, so it’s easier to acquire a player via desktop and up-sell them mobile right now. Someone needs to crack the simpler sign up process – it’s not hard to work out... With regards to social, the biggest challenge facing the industry is ‘normalisation’. Social networks reach non-gamblers – people who don’t want it or don’t know they want it and perhaps shouldn’t have it – and if gambling gets too ingrained in social, there will be repercussions along the lines of what we are seeing with porn legislation in the UK at the moment. MM: As far as mobile is concerned, many offers and brands are antiquated. Load times are slow, optimisation is slow and, as such, there needs to be far more focus from operators to make their products as nimble and mobile-friendly as possible because that’s where they’ll be getting their next big reach. For social, I would say it’s the same. The biggest item on the social side is for operators to make a stronger link between getting in the mindset of a realmoney player and making it attractive for a social gamer. That way, there can be a more congruent carryover to get the player so invested in gaming socially that they want to be a depositor. CG: I see three challenges for affiliates when it comes to mobile and social casino: technology, marketing segmentation and targeting social players. The first challenge is to optimise your site for mobile, which involves ensuring that it renders correctly on the various devices, and keeps up with the launch of new devices. In order to be effective, affiliates should partner with programs that have fully mobile-optimised sites; this will help to give the player the best possible experience and improve both player acquisition and retention.

Programs should be able to assist their affiliates in optimising their sites, and even go as far as providing the affiliate with mobile templates. Both Google Play and iTunes are a great way to acquire players, but they have limitations, as companies such as Google do not allow any real-play casino games to be listed in the Google Play store. It is essential that affiliates understand app stores and how to effectively leverage them to increase mobile acquisitions. Segmenting traffic sources and marketing efforts for mobile acquisitions is another challenge, but if you get it right, your mobile numbers should soar. An example of this would be to target a new generation of ‘hand-me-up’ Smartphone users. The replacement cycle of mobiles has sped up; driven by the frequent release of new products, phones are now being ‘handed-up’ to parents and grandparents. Previously, it was impossible to access this generation through online marketing, but they are now being exposed to new technology like Smartphones and tablets faster than would normally have been the case. Furthermore, in many of the First World countries, this 45-plus age category is the group of people with the most money to spend. However, your normal broad spectrum marketing will not appeal to this segment. You will have to target them more specifically, with more handholding, simple steps, and with emphasis on the safety of the brand. The increase in social players is mainly due to the rise in mobile access and the creation of the ‘casual’ or ‘social gamer’, many of whom are female. Research says that these new gamers enjoy playing on social networks, like Facebook, and are slowly becoming pro-active participants in other forms of gaming, such as casino games. Understanding how social media and mobile fit together and the tools available to take advantage of this intersection point is critical. Every social channel has potential opportunities, such as Facebook advertising, but not all of these are effective in driving value. The key is to draw on your partner’s social marketing knowledge and set up test campaigns optimising continuously to ensure a return on investment.

iGB Affiliate august/september 2013

29


Digital Casino Focus

What advice would you offer to an affiliate starting out in the online and mobile casino space – what would be the top five dos, and top five don’ts? CG: Dos: 1. Partner with a program that has knowledgeable account managers that will assist you every step of the way. 2. Have a clear, adaptable marketing plan in place – know your market and adapt content to suit it. 3. Do your homework by participating in forum discussions and read, read, read – expanding your knowledge will keep you ahead of the pack. 4. Google recommends responsive design, because delivering a seamless experience that is not device dependant is critical. 5. Optimise your marketing campaign: set up your campaigns in such a way that you can easily identify the traffic sources that are driving acquisitions that convert and retain well. Don’ts: 1. Don’t limit yourself to one market, because legislation can change overnight. 2. Don’t limit yourself to one traffic source – continue to test different marketing channels (your account manager can assist you with this). 3. Don’t underestimate how much of your traffic is mobile-specific. 4. Don’t sign up with an affiliate program without reading and understanding its terms and conditions. 5. Don’t forget to update your content, keeping it fresh, unique and relevant. MM: As far as the mobile casino space, my top dos and don’ts are as follows. Dos: 1. Do some thorough research on the top converting mobile offers. Look into why they work. Is it the offer? Creative? Load time? 2. Do promote to your existing channels. Your existing channels should already be connecting with your audience so let them know about your mobile offer. 3. Do pay attention to the business model behind these applications. Are they free play? Are they in-app upgrades? 4. Do understand the metrics that pertain to mobile specific offers. 5. Do work with a network that can help

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iGB Affiliate august/september 2013

you match the best mobile offers for your audience so you’re not going into the mobile space blindly. Don’ts: 1. Don’t try to go after everything mobile – carve out a niche for yourself. 2. Don’t ignore mobile SEO. Get familiar with how it differs from the SEO you’re accustomed to. 3. Don’t try to do any mobile design by yourself. Hire a qualified designer with experience in mobile. 4. Don’t assume social players want to deposit from the get-go. Understand how to convert social players into depositors and where those conversions lie. 5. Don’t assume mobile payments, tracking and marketing is done the same way you’re used to. Spend time researching the nuances of mobile.

“Affiliates play a vital role in this ever changing industry. They have the skills and knowledge to reinvent the way in which we acquire players.” IS: My advice would be: ●●Pick a niche you understand and can speak authoritatively about. ●●Research who you are working with and don’t just accept the best deals that come along. ●●Pay more attention to how operators treat their players rather than how they treat their affiliates (both are important but a happy player generally means a happy affiliate and an unhappy player means an unhappy affiliate). ●●Don’t hire an SEO company but do consider a User Experience Architect because that is the future of SEO. ●●Build mutually beneficial relationships with the operators and don’t sound off on public forums. Relationships are the cornerstone of business and ultimately, if people don’t really like you then opportunities will fall the way of your competitors. ●●Don’t do media buys or placements. It hamstrings the ability to adapt to the constantly changing environment and it may likely contradict best practice.

What are the best strategies for counteracting seasonality in the casino sector – how can an affiliate optimise and monetise the slower months? MM: If you have more than one portal that targets multiple locations, think about focusing on the better seasons for each location. For example, focus on Australia when it’s summer in the US, and vice versa. Also, when it’s your downtime, focus on getting your deals lined up for the next season and work on things like SEO. In any vertical (not just casino), to counteract seasonality is to provide special promotions and bonuses that are very attractive, unique and different during those low times. CG: Optimise your sites for mobile, as players take their mobile devices everywhere they go. Also, target markets in the south when the north is on summer holidays and keep your content relevant to the season; for example, in summer focus on summer-themed games. Design a promotion or competition with your affiliate account manager that will suit the season and acquire players and partner with a program that retains your players well so that you benefit from previous months’ acquisitions. Finally, will the affiliate sector remain an important component of the future digital casino industry? CG: Absolutely. Affiliates play a vital role in this ever evolving and changing industry. They have the skills and knowledge to adapt to change and reinvent the way in which we acquire players. MM: It’s hard to say. While affiliate traffic will always be valuable, it’s important for affiliates to be willing and able to evolve with the times and be as sophisticated as possible. That’s where the biggest challenge might be. IS: The bottom line is that any marketing channel that remains viable will continue to merit a place. If affiliates price themselves above this line, the opportunities will recede. Should they offer good value to the operator, the opportunities will increase.


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DIGITAL CASINO FOCUS

DIGITAL CASINOS MARKET OUTLOOK As part of this issue’s casino theme, we take a look at the recently published report from iGaming Business, Digital Casinos: Market Assessment and Outlook, authored by Rachel Church-Sanders, which offers a unique perspective on the current health of the interactive casino industry, as well as offering an outlook to its potential future progress. Introduction The biggest change over the past few years has been the growth in the number of digital casinos, with nearly a thousand now to choose from. However, insiders expect this growth in terms of new entrants to slow down rapidly in the next few years with each of the major digital casinos looking to diversify into foreign markets. “The overall outlook is extremely good and the industry will continue to grow as an increasing number of people get Internet access around the world,” said one insider. The digital casino gaming industry is characterised by networks, software companies and standalone operators that are exclusively casino gaming-oriented or have added casino games to a portfolio of existing games and/or sportsbooks. Some software developers have ‘gone back to basics’ by withdrawing from the highlycompetitive poker sector to concentrate on casino products where they feel they still have a competitive edge. In the early days of the industry, digital casinos were principally entrepreneur-led start-up businesses, typified by Microgaming being launched in the basement of a parental home by two brothers. Such early operators often managed a one-stop-shop offering, from software and content development through to direct player marketing.

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iGB Affiliate AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2013

However, as the market started to develop and more participants entered, operators started offering elements that could be outsourced – such as software for backend systems and games content. More recently, operators have been able to outsource a wide range of content and, increasingly, a wide number of specialised services. This has meant that marketing-led businesses have been allowed to focus on the player environment, and in some instances, outsource the remainder of the operations and system support. The digital gaming market has started to more clearly segment into customerfacing ‘business to customer (B2C)’ and ‘business to business (B2B)’ sectors. Some operators, such as 888, Interwetten and bwin.party offer both propositions. An acronym has also been mooted for dealing in the more monopolist-regulated markets – B2G (‘business to government’). For example, bwin.party has teamed up with national gambling monopolies in France and Denmark and software company Playtech has done the same with RAY in Finland. OpenBet, meanwhile, works with government-run entities in France, Denmark and Canada. “Internationally, as more markets open to regulated activity, including individual states in the US, we see chances for both

B2B licensing, and B2C/white label. These are exciting times to be in this market,” said Charles Cohen, Chief Executive Officer of mobile gaming specialist, Probability. In essence, each digital casino operator is looking to participate in a sector becoming more socially acceptable and entertainment-based, benefiting from a liberalised regulatory structure in some markets, and enjoying growth across many key demographics including those that have been hard to reach through other types of gaming, such as women. Add to that the growth in social media, Smartphone apps and micro-transactions and times that by the growing number of people globally with broadband connections and wireless access, the future continues to look rosy for digital casinos.

Affiliate marketing Affiliates are effectively a virtual sales force driving new traffic, new customer acquisitions and ultimately sales to a digital casino through a variety of tracked linking methods such as a click-through banner on their own sites, or through emails targeted at potential players. Digital casinos pay their affiliates only when a sale or lead has been generated. In essence, they are only ever paying for results. In the case of casino services on mobile phones,


Chapter 3 – Customer Acquisition and Retention

DIGITAL CASINO FOCUS for results. In the case of casino services on mobile phones, the mobile network operator is fulfilling the role of an affiliate. From an affiliate point of view, helping the customer find the site that offers exactly what they’re looking for will inevitably lead to higher conversion rates, improve retention, and ultimately, increase long-term revenue, which in turn will result in increased payment terms for them. As a rule of thumb, 20% of an operator’s affiliates will usually generate 80% of its affiliate income. However, an average performer one day can become a top affiliate the next due to bonuses and promotions. By offering an effective affiliate programme, smaller digital casinos can minimise advertising and customer acquisition costs. Canadian company Income Access claims to be the largest independent affiliate network globally with 22,000 members. Its clients span all forms of gaming and include Ladbrokes and Tombola. Often there will be a choice of three major models of revenue for affiliates: 1. CPA - this essentially means that the affiliate receives a one off cash injection per new playing customer. 2. Shared revenue model - affiliates receive a small percentage of the ongoing revenues that the customer they have encouraged to join generates. 3. A combination of the above, a bounty payment for each customer recruited plus a percentage of the ongoing revenue generated by that customer. The CPA model is very much a ‘get rich quick’ model, generating a large initial income, which is liable to dry up if the affiliate does not remain active in generating new customers. The shared revenue model is a slow building but potentially more lucrative route. The more customers the affiliate attracts and the more they spend, the more revenue the affiliate will receive. Generally, newer smaller affiliates tend to want a CPA deal as they are interested in getting revenue in quickly and are less concerned about longevity, seeing such a deal as a one-off. Larger more established affiliates tend to want a revenue share.

“Operators reveal that a new affiliate targeting the UK Operators new affiliate targeting the UK market via a large,could establishedexpect operator could marketreveal viathata alarge, established operator to expect to earn anything between £200 and £500 per month initially, increasing over time. Some of earn anything between £200 and £500 per month initially, Income Access’ clients have earned £100 every month for the last seven years whereas others earn increasing over time.” between £800 and £1,500. Casino affiliate programmes comprise over 35% of the affiliate programmes monitored on affiliate portal Casino Affiliate Programmes.

the mobile network operator is fulfilling the role of an affiliate. From an affiliate point of view, helping the customer find the site that offers exactly what they’re looking for will inevitably lead to higher conversion rates, improve retention, and ultimately, increase long-term revenue, which in turn will result in increased payment terms for the affiliate. As a rule of thumb, 20 percent of an operator’s affiliates will usually generate 80 percent of its affiliate income. However, an average performer one day can become a top affiliate the next due to bonuses and promotions. By offering an effective affiliate program, smaller digital casinos can minimise advertising and customer acquisition costs. Canadian company Income Access claims to be the largest independent affiliate network globally with 22,000 members. Its clients span all forms of gaming and include Ladbrokes and Tombola. Often there will be a choice of three major models of revenue for casino affiliates: 1. CPA: this essentially means that the affiliate receives a one off cash injection per new playing customer. 2. Shared revenue model: affiliates receive a small percentage of the ongoing revenues that the customer they have encouraged to join generates.

Example Casino Affiliate Programmes, October 2012 Name

CPA

YouWin.com Affiliates Wintingo Bet365 Fortune Affiliates InterPartners ReferBack VideoSlots.com Winner Affiliates BrightShare SIA Affiliates BrightShare Live Casino Partners SIA Affiliates Affiliates United Live Casino Partners PafPartners.com 62 Digital Casinos Affiliates United Everest Affiliates PafPartners.com Affiliate Edge Everest Affiliates Intertops Affiliate Edge Affactive Intertops Wager Web Affiliates Affactive Revenue Giants Wager Web Affiliates Affiliate Lounge Revenue Giants Affiliate Lounge

Rev Share

Yes 25% Yes 40% Chapter 3 – No Customer Acquisition and Retention 30% Yes 25% Chapter 3 – No Customer Acquisition and Retention 25% Yes 40% No 25% Yes 25% Yes 25% Yes 25% Yes 25% Yes 40% Yes 25% Yes 25% Yes 40% Yes 25% Yes 25% Yes 25% Yes 25% Yes 40% Yes 25% No 20% Yes 40% Yes 35% No 20% No 35% Yes 35% Yes 30% No 35% No 30% Yes 30% Source: Casino Affiliate Programmes No 30% Source: Casino Affiliate Programmes

Number of Affiliates Listed on Casino Affiliate Programmes by Genre, October 2010 and November 2012

Affiliate Programme by Genre October 2010 November 2012 Number of Affiliates Listed on Casino Affiliate Programmes by Genre, October 2010 and November 2012 Casino 42 59 Affiliate October 2010 November 2012 Poker Programme by Genre 26 33 Casino 42 59 Sportsbook 17 23 Poker 26 33 Bingo 13 12 Sportsbook 17 23 Skill games 9 13 Bingo 13 12 Lottery 2 5 Skill 9 13 Forexgames 1 9 LotteryOptions 2 5 Binary 0 10 Forex Cards 1 9 Scratch 0 4 Binary Options 0 10 Source: Casino Affiliate Programmes Scratch Cards 0 4 Source:2012 Casino Affiliate Programmes Percentage of Affiliates Listed on Casino Affiliate Programmes by Genre, November

Binary

Scratch Cards

Percentage of Affiliates Listed on Casino Affiliate Programmes by Genre, November 2012 Options Forex

Binary Options

Forex Lottery

5%

Lottery

3% 5%

Skill Games

3% 8%

6% 6%

Scratch Cards iGB Affiliate AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2013 Casino

2% 2%

Casino

35%

33


SIA Affiliates Yes 25% Live Casino Partners 40%25% – Customer BrightShare Chapter 3 Yes Yes Acquisition and Retention Affiliates United Yes 25%25% SIA Affiliates Yes Live Casino Partners Yes PafPartners.com Yes 25%40% Affiliates United Yes Everest Affiliates Yes 25%25% Yes Affiliate Edge PafPartners.com Yes 40%25% Everest Affiliates Yes 25% Intertops No 20% BrightShare Yes 25% Affiliate Edge Yes 40% Affactive Yes SIA Affiliates Yes 25%35%20% Intertops No WagerLive WebCasino Affiliates No Partners Yes 40%35%35% Affactive Yes Revenue Giants Yes Affiliates UnitedWeb Affiliates Yes 25%30%35% Wager No PafPartners.com Yes 25%30%30% Revenue Giants Yes Affiliate Lounge No

DIGITAL CASINO FOCUS

Everest Affiliates Yes 25% Affiliate Lounge No 30% Source: Casino Affiliate Programmes Affiliate Edge Yes 40% Source: Casino Affiliate Programmes Intertops No 20% Yes 35% NumberAffactive of Affiliates Listed on Casino Affiliate Programmes by Genre, October 2010 and November 2012 Number of Affiliates Listed on Casino Affiliate Programmes by Genre, October 2010 and November 2012 Wager Web Affiliates No 35%

AffiliateRevenue Programme Genre by GenreYes October October 2010 2010 Affiliate Programme Giants by

November 2012 November 2012 30%

Casino Affiliate Casino 42 59 59 Lounge No 30% 42 Poker 26 Poker 26 33 33Source: Casino Affiliate Programmes 17 Sportsbook Sportsbook 17 23 23 Bingo 13 12 BingoNumber of 13 12 2010 Affiliates Listed on Casino Affiliate Programmes by Genre, October and November 2012 Skill games 9 13 Skill games 9 13 Affiliate Lottery Programme by Genre October22010 November 2012 5 LotteryCasino Forex 2 42 59 5 1 9 Forex Poker Binary Options 1 26 33 9 0 10 Binary Sportsbook OptionsScratch Cards 0 17 23 10 4 0 12 4 ScratchBingo Cards 0 13 Source: Casino Affiliate Programmes

Skill games 9 13 3. A combination of the two: a bounty Source: Casino Affiliate Programmes Lottery Percentage of Affiliates Listed2 on Casino Affiliate Programmes5 by Genre, November 2012 payment for each customer recruited Forex 1 9 Binary Scratch Cards of Affiliates Listed on Casino Affiliate Programmes by Genre, November 2012 plus a percentage of the ongoing revenue Percentage Binary Options 0 10 Options Scratch Cards 0 Forex 4 generated by that customer. Binary Scratch Cards

Options

The CPA model is very much a ‘get rich quick’ model, generating a large initial income, which is liable to dry up if the affiliate does not remain active in generating new customers. The shared revenue model is a slow building but potentially more lucrative route. The more customers the affiliate attracts and the more they spend, the more revenue the affiliate will receive. Generally, newer smaller affiliates tend to want a CPA deal as they are interested in getting revenue in quickly and are less concerned about longevity, seeing such a deal as a one-off. Larger more established affiliates tend to want a revenue share. Operators reveal that a new affiliate targeting the UK market via a large, established operator could expect to earn anything between £200 and £500 per month initially, increasing over time. Some of Income Access’ clients have earned £100 every month for the last seven years whereas others earn between £800 and £1,500. Casino affiliate programs comprise over 35 percent of the affiliate programs monitored on affiliate portal Casino Affiliate Programs.

Case Study: Betfair’s Affiliate Program Betfair’s revenue share plan is simple and offers affiliates the chance to earn commission on all of the Betfair products that are used by an affiliate’s referred players. If the combined net revenue of all players an affiliate has referred exceeds the threshold for a product (poker, casino and games including sports) in a particular month, an affiliate will move up to the next Level and receive increased commissions for that product.

6%

Forex

2%

Source:Casino Casino Affiliate Programmes

5% Programmes by Genre, November 2012 Percentage of AffiliatesLottery Listed on Casino Affiliate 2% Casino

6% 3% Binary 5% Options

Lottery

Skill Games

Skill Games Lottery

Skill Games

Forex

8%

3%

8%

5% 7%

3%

6%

Scratch Cards

35% 2%

Casino

35%

35% Chapter 8% 3 – Customer Acquisition and Retention 7%Bingo 14% 20%

7% Bingo

14%

Sportsbook

3.4.1 Case Study: Betfair’s Affiliates Programme Bingo 20% 14%

Source: ZagZig Media analysis of Casino Affiliate Programmes data

Poker

Betfair’s revenue share plan is simple and offers affiliates the chance to earn commission on all of the 20% Betfair products that are used by an affiliate’s referred players. Sportsbook

Source: ZagZig Media analysis of If the combined net revenue of all players an affiliate has referred exceeds the threshold for a product Poker Casino Affiliate Programmes data Sportsbooksports) in a particular month an affiliate will move (poker, casino and games including up to the next Source: ZagZig Media analysis of Digital Casinos 63 Casino Affiliate Programmes data Level and receive increased commissions for that product. Poker

Revenue Share Commission

Poker

Casino

Games*

Level 1

25%

25%

25%

Level 2

30%

30%

30%

Level 3

35%

35%

35%

Level 1

GBP 0-5,000

GBP 0-15,000

GBP 0-10,000

Level 2

GBP 5,001-10,000

GBP 15,001-30,000

GBP 10,001-25,000

Level 3

GBP 10,001+ over

GBP 30,001+ over

GBP 25,001+ over

Digital Casinos 63

Digital Casinos 63

Monthly Net Revenue

Net Revenue commission is paid on the lifetime of the player accounts for all products except Sports that is paid for the first 3 years after the player has registered their account. *Betfair’s Games Product is made up of Arcade, Exchange Games and Sports Multiples.

Example If referred players generate net revenues of £6,000 for Poker and £2,800 for Sports an affiliate will earn the following. Poker Level 1: £5,000 x 25% = £1,250 Level 2: £1,000 X 30% = £300

+ Sports Year 1: £2,800 x 25% = £700

Total Commission = £2,250

Source: Betfair

34

iGB Affiliate AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2013


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15/07/2013 12:09


Digital Casino Focus

Anniversary Games With Cherry celebrating its 50th anniversary with the release of two new casino brands, iGB Affiliate caught up with Thomas Rhys Jones, Head of Affiliates at Cherry Affiliates, to discuss the lay of the land for today’s casino marketers. Firstly, how would you summarise the current health of the casino affiliate sector? Generally, I think the sector is in a better state than it was a few years ago. The majority of casino operators are doing their utmost to maximise player experience and, therefore, potential value, which can only be good for the affiliates who generate traffic to the sites. As the industry matures, the main downside is the level of saturation in the market. With so many new operators and affiliates launching constantly, it is occasionally a daunting place to be, but the operators that are conducting themselves in the right way and are investing in their futures in order to improve all aspects of their service will be the ones that will be around for the long-term – and that can only be good for the affiliates, now and in the future. Given the increasing competition in the market, is it getting harder to convert new casino players? It’s certainly harder to acquire new players due to the saturation in the marketplace. To an extent, the casino market has been damaged by casinos falling over themselves to offer the best ‘welcome packages’ that will be totally alien or unattainable to the majority of players, whilst forgetting that the product itself is what keeps the players interested. It’s up to us as a casino provider to make things as simple as possible in order to keep conversion high and keep them playing at the casino. Evidence shows us that players tend to ‘shop around’ in order to get the best deals, but it’s our job to provide a balance between having an enticing offer in the ‘shop window’ while keeping things engaging on-site so that they don’t need to go anywhere else.

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iGB Affiliate august/september 2013

This can only benefit affiliates in the longrun, which I think some affiliate programs and casinos tend to forget. What aspects do you feel affiliates could improve on in terms of establishing a harmonious working relationship with their casino program partners? I’m happy to say that the majority of my team’s working day will consist of talking to both established affiliates – who can, at times, be a great resource of information – and new affiliates who need a bit more guidance. In this respect, it’s all about listening to each other’s needs, which I think is tantamount to a good working relationship, from both sides. You tend to get the impression speaking to some affiliate managers that it’s very much a ‘take, take, take’ relationship with the affiliates they work with, but as much as you are providing them with a service and product, you have to remember your actions earn these people their livelihood as well as your own. It’s not just about getting the player through the door, it’s about making sure that these players are given everything they need for a longer lifespan at the casino, and a higher opportunity for increased revenues. Do you believe that affiliates will remain as important to the larger operators in the future – will they continue to be a relevant business partner for the long-term? I truly do. Any organisation wants to drive down costs, but any company worth their salt will recognise the importance that performance marketing has on their bottom line. Google is doing its utmost to ensure that SEO is a very important factor, eliminating black hat techniques and such. Affiliation is not a hobby like it may have been in the beginning, where getting traffic

was a lot simpler with fewer rules. It’s a full-time job for many, so it’s the affiliate’s responsibility to continuously ‘up their game’ to stay ahead of the curve. Let’s look at Cherry – what promotions and offers are you using to entice new casino affiliates to your program? Off the bat, we offer competitive commission, easy-to-use affiliate software that contains all the creative material to promote our brands along with in-depth reporting to manage campaigns effectively. Most importantly, we have an experienced team of affiliate managers who can help affiliates grow their campaigns and provide them with the tools they need to be more successful; be they experienced affiliates or just starting out. Quite simply, it was vital for us to get the essentials in place and working correctly in order for the affiliates to have a full and profitable relationship with Cherry Affiliates. Once signed up with Cherry, what can affiliates expect from the relationship in terms of creative, tools and, of course, the relationship with their affiliate managers? What they would expect from every top affiliate program. Quite honestly, I think a lot of affiliate programs lose their focus by trying to offer the newest and best products and innovations; they lose sight of what the affiliates need – reliable tracking, up-todate content, available affiliate managers who know how to best improve their campaigns, with the tools available in order to maximise conversions. I am a fan of ‘pushing the envelope’ with new features and technologies to improve an affiliate program, but I learnt a long time ago that as long as you get the fundamental things right, everything else will fall into place. I think many people tend to overlook that.


Digital Casino Focus

“Any company worth its salt will recognise the importance that performance marketing has on their bottom line. Affiliation is not a hobby like it may have been in the beginning… it’s a full-time job and it’s the affiliate’s responsibility to continuously ‘up their game’ to stay ahead of the curve.” We also make it a priority to ensure that once an affiliate brings in players, they are not forgotten and simply lost to the casino ‘system’. As a company, we place huge importance on affiliates and the players they bring in, as they are such a vital part of our revenues. It’s not simply about acquiring the players, but making sure they experience a casino that they want to stick with and that fulfils their needs; be it customer service, the right payment providers for them, fast withdrawal times, solid CRM/VIP procedures, the games available or the game providers we have. Any casino needs to cover all the bases. You cannot state that you are offering everything you can to the players (and therefore affiliates) unless the whole business is working in tandem for them. What can we expect from Cherry for the remainder of 2013? 2013 is a big year at Cherry. As the company celebrates its 50th anniversary, we are releasing two further casino brands: CherryCasino and SpilleAutomater, which will be available for affiliates in Q3. Additionally, we will be releasing EuroLotto in the affiliate program towards the end of Q3, so get in touch for details of any of the new brands.

will deliver you the results. We’re all busy, but essentially, performance marketing is a partnership between two companies in order to promote a central product. If you can’t get hold of the other party to talk about your needs to grow performance, it’s not a partnership, and it’s not worth having.

to point you in the right direction and help you build your business. That’s what we’re here for, and it’s mutually beneficial.

What advice would you offer to an affiliate starting out in the casino industry today? What are the first things they should do to ensure that their affiliate business can operate as effectively as possible? I would advise them to promote a niche in order to evade saturation in the market. There are many affiliate sites that are, quite frankly, in a league of their own that would be very costly and time consuming to compete against. They way past this is by being more specific towards customers’ needs rather than a broad approach. Get to know the products that you are looking to promote and exactly what it is you want to push and to what markets. If you’re unsure, speak to a few affiliate programs, as any that are worth working with will take the time

There has been a long-standing consensus that the relationship between affiliate and affiliate manager is essential to the effectiveness of a partnership. Is this relationship as pivotal as ever? The saturation in the market is two-fold: more success in the market means more casinos and affiliates wanting to be a part of it. It pays to cut through the noise and bluster to find the affiliate programs (and from my point of view, the affiliates) that you really want to work with, and those that

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DIGITAL CASINO FOCUS

ONLINE CASINO BENCHMARKING

CUSTOMER SERVICE

Ever wondered just how well your chosen casino partners apply themselves to their customer service responsibilities? As part of our Digital Casino Focus, Etruvian consulting’s David Coleman provides some fascinating insight from the results of the company’s recent customer service audit of the leading online casino companies – so you can find out how your affiliate program partners performed. LAST YEAR, POKERSTARS took the top position in etruvian consulting’s customer support quality audit for poker, demonstrating just one of the reasons why it remains the dominant force in the online poker industry. The same assessment was recently performed and released for online casinos, which once again evaluated the support experience from the perspective of the consumer. As with the previous audits, the purpose was to provide recognition for those operators whose performance was exemplary and to provide structured and constructive guidance for operators who need to optimise the quality of their service. As seen in the table, the top position for the casino support quality audits was taken by 32Red, a reputable brand in the casino industry that is known by both professionals and consumers alike. Achieving the same overall score as PokerStars in the poker assessment last year, 32Red rose above the competition at the top of the rankings. There were many subtle, yet telling differences in how it achieved this score, however.

1. Both support teams provided comprehensive responses that consistently provided the key information on any given topic In the poker audits, PokerStars was the clear winner, partially due to the consistent level of detail that went into each and every one of its support responses. This was largely positive, however, the masses of text were, at times, daunting. For 32Red, the responses were not as comprehensive, however, the company cut directly to the heart of the query more effectively and gave less extraneous information.

2. Frequently, emails would be responded to by both operators in less than ten minutes 38

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Both of these operators had exceptional email response times consistently across numerous test cases. Other factors were likely to have played a part here, as PokerStars only supports a single contact channel by which customers can initiate the communication: email. 32Red, on the other hand, supports email, telephone, live chat, Skype and snail mail but still retained the excellent response times. It should also be considered that a large determining factor here may be inbound volumes and the impact this can have on response times and the viability of supporting many contact channels.

3. The same overall score achieved for the friendliness of their teams PokerStars has a powerful information repository put at the disposal of its support teams, but this also meant that the responses were often more formal, which scored well for etiquette and manners but less in empathy and tonality. 32Red was seen to use much less standardisation and instead uses manually typed responses which allowed the company to effectively reference emotional content with more consistency and convey a more personal and positive demeanour.

4. Extra Mile opportunities were more frequently seized by these leading operators than their competitors During the assessments, both PokerStars and 32Red were both seen to go the ‘extra mile’ more often than their competition. 32Red managed to do this more frequently than most other casino operators, however, when compared directly to the PokerStars extra mile responses, it is clear that the information was significantly less comprehensive. This may be in part due to the extensive information resource

with which PokerStars has provided its support teams, enabling them to give more, at less cost to themselves in terms of efficiency. 32Red also engaged in off-topic conversation far more frequently, which helped to build rapport and engage the customer, whereas the PokerStars support team rarely even acknowledged any such attempts at non-poker or accountrelated discussions.

Standardisation or individual service? This is an unavoidable question and challenge that faces all remote gaming operators, due to the interactive nature of the products. It increases in complexity as the consumer base grows and the corresponding inbound communication along with it. It is widely accepted that quality interactions at all possible touch points drives extended lifetime values and player loyalty. This is particularly relevant with the player interaction via the support team, as this is the only real and direct contact the majority will have with Figure 1

OVERALL SCORE

RANK

OPERATOR

1ST

32RED

8.8

2ND

INTERCASINO

8.2

3RD

BETSSON

8.1

4TH

BET365

7.9

5TH

BWIN.PARTY

7.7

6TH

CASINO770

7.6

7TH

MRGREEN

7.6

8TH

LADBROKES

7.4

9TH

BETFRED

7.1

10TH

BETWAY

7.1

11TH

PADDYPOWER

7.0

12TH

CLUBWORLD

7.0

13TH

888CASINO

6.1

14TH

WILLIAM HILL

6.1

15TH

3DICE

5.8

16TH

BETFAIR

5.1


DIGITAL CASINO FOCUS

Response Times

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10.0

9.0

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Willingness to respond off topic

Personal Touch 10.0 9.0 8.0 7.0

approaches they used were different, 4.0 despite the same 3.0 scores being 2.0 achieved. From the 1.0 dominant poker 0 ir n r d y s d 0 o ill fa ty ld en ino 65 ice so operator, we saw or Bet wa roke owe etfre asin illH Par Re o77 re cas et3 s D t t 2 3 e W G 3 W B B B yP Be sin Mr er db 8C ub Int Cl La add Ca 88 large volumes of P information being communicated representatives of the brand. The challenge consistently, often through the use of its resides in making these interactions extensive template library which, in turn, high quality in a commercially viable allowed it to retain extremely respectable and sustainable way, which will allow for response times. From the rising star of unfettered scaling upwards as the needs of the casino industry, we saw equally fast the business dictates, without negatively responses that were more concise but still impacting the customer experience. effectively addressed the queries being Looking at the support quality audits posed to a high standard. It was also performed on the online poker and casino evident that very few standardised answers operators, it is clear that many of the were in use at 32Red, helping to give the gaming ‘giants’ struggle with this exact communication a personal feel. dilemma, resulting in overly rigid and This raises the question of whether it formal support staff and a distinct lack is commercially feasible to combine the of personalisation. It is also evident that two approaches. Standardisation supports friendliness and extra mile efforts are not efficiency and can also help to ensure that actively pushed by these multiproduct the quality and accuracy of the information providers, which could be attributed, in being sent is kept to a consistently high part, to their traditional methods of doing standard, if done correctly. However, business evolving from bricks-and-mortar consumers increasingly demand and expect betting shops where the etiquette and more than simple politeness from the expectations of the consumers differ greatly support teams they engage with. This is not from those online. This creates opportunities to say that each support contact will result for operators who do focus on the experience in the team member needing to add a new and customer engagement, which is friend on the latest social media platform, highlighted by the results from the audits. but it does mean that interactions that are In the poker and casino assessments perceived as robotic will not only fail to respectively, we saw PokerStars rise above drive brand loyalty, but could actually have the rest by a strong margin and 32Red a negative impact as intelligent consumers standing well clear of its competition. The 6.0 5.0

identify that little effort has been made to value them as an individual. The assessments did highlight that many operators who rely on standardised methods for improving efficiency also suffer from poor personalisation and, as a result, miss many opportunities to engage the customer effectively. However, PokerStars also demonstrated that it is possible to provide answers that are personalised enough to satisfy the majority of a demanding consumer base whilst still using common standardisation methods to retain strong efficiency. This scalability challenge is also something that will have been faced by 32Red over its ten years of operation, and like PokerStars, it has managed to retain a strong commitment to providing a friendly and personalised service. For free copies of etruvian consulting’s Casino Support Quality Audit, and further information regarding the report, please contact David Coleman at David.Coleman@ etruvianconsulting.com or 00350 54594000. http://en.etruvian.com/etruvian-consulting/.

DAVID COLEMAN works as the Project Lead for the consulting team at etruvian consulting and for the last couple of years, has been assisting operators in auditing their operations with a view to optimising their product offerings and customer experience. Previously, David worked within the video games and financial services industries in various roles before relocating to Gibraltar.

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INTERNET POKER’S FREEDOM FIGHTER Congressman Joe Barton states that he has no vested interest in an Internet poker bill but that in the modern digital era, Americans should be able to choose if they want to play poker online, for real money. His latest federal bill to regulate online poker, the Internet Poker Freedom Act, would allow states and Indian tribes to join, or opt out of, a national inter-state poker-only regime that would keep ‘bad actors’ from entering the market for five years. This issue, iGB Affiliate gets the lowdown from the Congressman himself about the chances of the bill’s success. There have been a number of bills put before Congress since the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act that attempt, in various guises, to regulate the online poker industry in the US. What do you believe have been the obstacles to federal regulation so far – why haven’t we seen much, if any, progress at the federal level? I don’t think the House and Senate leadership of either political party yet feels that it’s a pressing issue that has to be dealt with. When you have a political situation like we have here in the United States with two political parties that are fairly equally divided in terms of the country and in the political power balance in Congress, you have to have some consensus that an issue needs to be addressed before the leadership really starts looking at it. This is an issue that has been all too easy to ignore. UIGEA (the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) basically said that rather than it being illegal to play poker on the Internet for money, that it was illegal to conduct the financial transaction that resulted from it, so that certainly stifled progress. When the Justice Department threw that out (December 2011 opinion that the Wire Act only related to sportsbetting), then people began to take a look at it and now you’ve got the situation where some of the states are (regulating) on an intra-state basis, so it’s an issue whose day is coming. And my bill is out there. It’s been vetted by all the stakeholders, it’s responsible, it’s reasonable, and it could be that “this is the year” because of our debt ceiling situation in the United States. We have a vote sometime this year on extending

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the debt ceiling and this would be a good revenue source for that. We also have a medical program in the United States called Medicare which we’re trying to reform and fix and, again, an Internet poker bill would be a way to pay for that. There are fewer serious stakeholders opposed to it than ever before and there are more people in favour of it than ever before, so it has some momentum. Having previously introduced a federal bill for consideration, what convinced you to return with a new bill, and what do you think its realistic chances are of gaining enough support and momentum to pass? If at first you don’t succeed, then try, try, and try again. I don’t have any vested interests in an Internet poker bill. I like to play poker and I feel that, in the Internet age, we should have some ability for people that want to play online to do so. I’ve never tried to play poker for money on the Internet but for those who do, we ought to have a level playing and a fair playing field, and that’s what my bill does. The bill we just introduced really would work and it really would keep out the ‘bad actors’. It would be technically superior to bills of prior years and I think that it’s one of those things that if, because of the debt ceiling or the Medicare reform or some other issue, they need a new revenue source, then this bill is ready to go and this might be the Congress that goes with it. But, it needs to be there. In my opinion, there needs to be a work product in legislative form that is available and is a responsible piece of work; and this bill is.

One of the first bills to be introduced to Congress on this matter by Congressman Barney Frank stipulated that prohibition (in reference to UIGEA) was an infringement on the personal freedoms of modern Americans – Americans who like to play poker. Is this sentiment still at play within the more recent efforts to regulate online poker, or has it become more of a taxation and revenue generating issue? I’d say both. My motivation is, firstly, that I like to play poker and I think that in the Internet age lots of people are going to want to play poker for money on the Internet, and we ought to set up a way to do that as fairly as possible. There is also a revenue component on the political side this time that does give some momentum to it, but that’s not the primary reason I’m doing it. I’m doing it because in the modern era, part of the lifestyle for Americans is using the Internet for relaxation and some of them are going to want to do more than play video games. They’re going to want to try to pit their skills against other people’s skills in Internet poker. Your bill references the United States vs DiCristina case which held that poker is a game of skill, which you’ve said you can defend with “a straight face and a clear conscience.” How important was the DiCristina decision in the long-standing skill vs chance argument with the game of poker? I think that when we decide to legislate, it will be easier for the Congressman that don’t really have a preference one way or the other to support the bill because it is a game of skill. It’s not roulette where you


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“I am really encouraging the people that count in the House to give this some real consideration. This is not just an exercise in frivolity, it’s a real legislative attempt.”

just pick a number and hope your number comes up; over time, and in a reasonably short period of time, better poker players are going to take the money from the lessskilled poker players. I had a Congressman yesterday talk to me about the bill and why I was doing it and he said that I was such a big gambler, I responded, “Well, I’m not a really big gambler at all but I am, for an amateur, a decent poker player. If you think it’s all luck, bring $100 to my office tonight and by the end of the night, I bet I have your $100.” He didn’t take me up on it. Obviously, there’s luck involved as well. If you sit down and keep getting pocket aces and the other guy’s getting two-seven off suit, you’re going to beat him. But, over a two or three hour period or even shorter, you watch and you pick your spots and you’ll come out on top if you’re the better player, and I see that. A bad player can win money pretty quickly. For example, in Texas Hold’em, if you keep getting that last card on the river; that’s a two percent chance, there’s only one card but if you get it three or four times in a row, you’ll win a lot of money because the smart guys know that you’re not going to get that card very often and they’ll pay you off. But it you keep playing those long-shots, the law of averages will catch up with you.

Should this bill become law, how will it effect states’ rights to continue with their respective intra-state programs (should they remain in or opt out), some of which do, and potentially will, offer more than poker?

It protects them. The bill assumes that everybody, all states and Indian tribes, are going to participate. But, it’s a very easy opt-out; if you’re a state, the governor sends a letter to the Secretary of Commerce saying, “We don’t want to participate,” and that’s it. If you’re an Indian tribe, the same thing; if the state says that it doesn’t want to participate but then the Indian tribe within the state says it does, the Indian tribe is allowed to. But, it’s a very easy opt-out at the state level and at the Indian tribe level, and nobody has, at least yet, complained about that. And should states opt out, they would be permitted to carry on their current iGaming programs, should they have one? Yes, but it would be very unusual for the likes of New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware, who all have some intra-state Internet poker capability, to opt out at the federal level because it would curtail their market. Nevada has one site that’s up and running now and it has a lot of players that are registered to play from outside the state, but they can only play when they are in Nevada. If my bill were to become law, it would seem to me that they would want everybody anywhere in the US to be able to play. Why would you restrict your market? The more players, the more money you make.

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“The people that object to (gambling) for moral reasons, I respect, but we are not drafting people to go to poker rooms, or forcing them to participate… this is not coercive, it’s voluntary.”

What about the states like New Jersey, as you’ve mentioned, who have a wider gaming offering than poker? If they do nothing and opt in to the federal poker-only bill, are they able to carry on with the rest of their intra-state gaming offering? Yes, they would have intra-state for everything else and inter-state, between the states, for poker. Technically, they’d have to segregate their poker operations to accommodate people from all over the country, but it’s technically possible and I’m sure that that’s what they would do. You would rather have potential for 300 million customers than you would for the population of New Jersey, which is under ten million. You’ve also catered for federally recognized tribes in this bill, again allowing them to opt out of the Act upon notice. Obviously, tribal gaming is a major consideration for any bill that passes at the federal level… Absolutely, and I think it’s important because in the bricks-and-mortar environment, they are the dominant providers. We tend to think of Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe and Reno and Atlantic City, and, of course, they’ve got some very big corporate casinos that have locations not just in those areas but in Mississippi and all over. But, in terms of the number of casinos and gaming revenue, my understanding is that the Indian tribes are two to three times as large as Las Vegas and Atlantic City. If you’re going to have an

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Internet poker bill, you’ve got to include the Indian tribes or give them an opportunity to participate if they so choose. Similar to Nevada’s online programme, your bill also utilises a ‘bad actor’ clause which sunsets after a five year period. How important do you believe this provision to be with regards to the potential success of the bill in Congress? I think it’s important to show that we’re going to try to keep out the people that tend to spend too much money and the people that have a background that’s unethical. Also, the minors; we make every effort to keep out minors. Again, I don’t think that in and of itself, it is a huge part of the bill but it is a necessary part to show that we really are trying to keep the game clean and make it fun for people that play. We’re not trying to set up a system where criminal elements or the scam artists could come on and defraud people from their money. This was also part of the early lobbying of the land-based casinos on previous bills who wanted this sort of clause inserted. So, assuming you’re giving preference to those US operators and those with a clean bill of legal health from outside the country, is five years enough? Should this ‘sunset’ at all or would that be obstructive to the growth of the market in the longer-term? Well, there were some that wanted ten years and there were some that wanted none, and so I thought five years was a

good in-between. It’s a reasonable amount of time. It’s long enough that it’s real, but it’s not infinity; it’s not a prohibition. Again, at least so far, we haven’t had a lot of kick-back on that provision. Sheldon Adelson has come out recently with a distinctly moral argument in opposition of regulated online gaming. Although many would find his grounds for such an argument slightly absurd given his position, the morality issue is very much an active consideration for many American politicians and state governments. How do regulators and people implementing bills tackle this issue given how deep-rooted many of these perceptions and preconceptions are? I think it’s an issue that is legitimate. I respect people who have a moral reason against playing poker. But, the counter argument is that this is not coercive, it’s voluntary. Whether you play in the basement of your home with your friends next door for nickels and dimes, whether you go to a local poker room or casino in your area or, in the case of Texas, go to Oklahoma or Louisiana or fly to Nevada or somewhere else, it’s voluntary and however you get to the poker table, whether it’s a real poker table in a real casino or an online poker table, everybody else there is a volunteer and they all know what the rules are and they know they’re there to pit their skills against each other.


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“I think that we’re going to have a poker-only law sooner rather than later. I’d say in two to three years, maybe five years at the outside – but it could happen this year. It could happen in the next three months.”

It’s not an accident. If I’m driving down the road with my family, I don’t just say “Oh, what’s that?” and then turn into the casino and just stumble into the poker room. It is a destination that you intend to go to in the real world. I guess you could stumble across an Internet poker site accidentally – www.TexasHoldEm.com, or something similar – but once you’re in there, you’re not going to play poker for money unless you want to because you’re going to be prompted, certainly initially, to prove who you are, where you are and that you’re over 21. Verification systems are pretty sophisticated so you’re not just going to find yourself in an Internet poker room and your life savings on the table. It’s not going to happen. In a free society we allow adults to engage in lots of things that have potential negative consequences, whether it’s driving a car at 100 mph or drinking alcoholic beverages, smoking cigarettes or some of the more illegal pursuits. Poker is legal where it’s allowed and it’s fun and there are risks and rewards to it. So, I don’t think (the moral argument) is a reason not to allow it. The percentage of the population that is not able to control their ability to bet money that they shouldn’t bet is a small percentage, but I think with the safeguards in our bill, it’s actually easier to prevent a problem poker player on the Internet than it is in the real world because of the way you have to deposit your money and the way you’ve got to be verified.

In my bill, for example, you can’t use a credit card; you can only post money or use a debit card, so I’m sure that the Internet providers of the poker rooms – if they are made legal and come online – are going to introduce all kinds of limits based on your income. They’re not going to let somebody who has an income of $25,000 a year all of a sudden post $25,000 unless he wins it over time, slowly building up. So, I feel pretty good about that. The people that object to (gambling) for moral reasons, I respect, but we are not drafting people to go to poker rooms, or forcing them to participate. So, I feel pretty good that on the moral argument, we’ve got a strong counter-argument. With so many interested parties pointing to a federal solution as the preferred way to regulate online gaming in the US, how far, should your bill not succeed, are we away from a federal solution and will a federal solution always be poker-only? I think that we’re going to have a pokeronly law sooner rather than later. I’d say in two to three years, maybe five years at the outside – but it could happen this year. It could happen in the next three months. In terms of poker-only versus broader (gaming), that’s a much tougher question. I think it’s more defensible to do pokeronly. I think it’s an easier political issue to win. But, there is a school of thought that if you’re going to do poker, let’s do all the others too. The biggest political support for

any expansion on poker comes from the state lotteries. Interestingly enough, Texas, where I’m from, has a lottery but doesn’t allow people to play poker. Go figure: Texas Hold’em isn’t allowed to be played in Texas. It doesn’t make sense. So, I can’t answer that question definitively because I just know that my bill is just poker and I’ve worked very hard to keep it just poker. In terms of the feedback you’ve received from your bill so far, do you feel that there is sufficient momentum at the moment to maybe progress this further than most bills in the past have been able to? It all depends on the bigger issues: what do they want out of the debt ceiling agreement? What do they want out of health care reform? The positive on our poker bill is that there is a new revenue component to it that the Republicans should be supportive of as a way to pay down the federal debt or to pay for Medicare reform. And it’s big enough that it’ll be a factor. As a standalone issue on its own merit, the fact that the states are beginning to allow it on an intra-state basis gives us the momentum. That’s why I say it’s a question of time. It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when. But, I can’t give you a guarantee. I know that I am really encouraging the people that count in the House to give this some real consideration. This is not just an exercise in frivolity, it’s a real legislative attempt.

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The Barton Bill A Win/Lose Scenario for Affiliates

Why a win for online poker may mean a loss for iGaming affiliates, writes Rachel Hirsch, an Associate at Washington DC-based law firm, Ifrah LLC. Ever since the United States government shut down the country’s three biggest and most reputable poker sites a couple of years ago, it seems as though state legislators have been scrambling to pass new iGaming measures that satisfy their constituents’ concerns while raising much-needed tax revenue. Paving the way are states like Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware, which have passed iGaming laws within their borders. Federal lawmakers have also ramped up their efforts to regulate iGaming on a more uniform, federal level. The most recent attempt is packaged as the “Internet Poker Freedom Act of 2013”, sponsored by Representative Joe Barton (R-Tex). A poker player himself, Barton believes that a poker-only bill has a better chance of garnering votes than the broader iGaming bill recently introduced by his colleague, Representative Peter King (R-NY). While online poker certainly carries its own appeal, a singularly-focused bill may alienate certain states that have passed, or intend to pass, broader-based iGaming legislation. A poker-only bill also means fewer opportunities for gaming affiliates that have historically reached wider audiences outside of the United States and it may also mean tough licensing hurdles that entirely eliminate an opportunity for a gaming affiliate.

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Federal authority

Licensing scheme

Like the earlier bill introduced in June by Rep King, Barton’s bill sets up a federal system for regulating iGaming. In Barton’s case, the bill grants authority to both the Secretary of Commerce and the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) to oversee the licensing and regulation of Internet poker in the US. The bill authorises the Secretary to designate and oversee state regulatory authorities and the NIGC to oversee Indian tribal regulatory authorities. In consultation with the NIGC, the Secretary will create federal regulations that will be implemented within 180 days of enactment of the bill. The Secretary will also create the Office of Internet Poker Oversight (OIPO), which will be tasked with qualifying regulatory authorities to issue licenses to, and monitor the activities of, prospective operators. The bill requires minimum standards for a regulatory authority to be determined by the Secretary, which include sufficient personnel, experience, capacity and authority. Yet, unlike predecessor bills, there are no pre-determined qualifications that would limit authorisation to states like Nevada and New Jersey only, which, given the long-standing casino presence in those states, have the most experience regulating gaming.

Once authorised, a regulatory authority may issue licences to Internet poker operators. The bill sets minimum standards for issuing the licences and certificates, including character, probity, capability, competence, experience and financial ability. While each regulatory authority determines its own procedures for applications, investigation, and issuance of licences and certificates, one regulatory authority may accept a certificate of suitability of another regulatory authority. Initially, prospective licensees under this licensing scheme must have owned or controlled a casino with at least 500 slot machines or a qualified card room (licensed for at least 175 tables) for five years prior to submitting their application. However, after two years, the federal government may lessen the licensing restrictions, provided that it alerts the public and allows for a period of public comment. Licences are valid for five years and are renewable at the discretion of the regulatory authority. Licence fees would be determined by the individual regulatory authorities, but the bill does not establish an overarching tax rate. To be eligible for a licence, licensees will have to locate their servers within the state or tribal lands from which their licence was issued.


FEATURE

If an operator fails to apply for a US-issued licence, it will face a fine amounting to the greater of $1 million per day, or the amount of bets or wagers taken by the operator from US players during the unlicensed period. The Director of OIPO is charged with compiling a list of all unlicensed Internet gaming enterprises, along with their domain names and the identities of all their principals, which would be updated every 60 days and published on the Treasury website. Stakeholders in “any affected sports organisation” and “any person directly harmed by unlicensed Internet gambling” would have the right to submit names for inclusion on this list.

Companies and individuals who do not meet the threshold of significant vendor fall into the category of ‘other vendors’. These other vendors may still be required to go through suitability checks. Most importantly for affiliates, this category includes those who: “direct, provide, or solicit customers to or for the licensee’s Internet poker facility, or materially assist in any of those tasks, in return for a commission or other fee.” Under this provision, operators are required to identify their affiliates. Any ‘other vendor’ that does not meet suitability can put an operator’s licence in jeopardy.

Exclusionary provisions Affiliates suitability In addition to issuing licenses to operators, a regulatory authority may also issue certificates of suitability to a licensee’s vendors. The bill distinguishes between ‘significant vendors’ and other vendors. Significant vendors are defined fairly broadly. The term includes a vendor that accepts bets, manages, or controls the games, develops or maintains the software, provides any of the IP for the operator or is paid a percentage of gaming revenue in exchange for its services. Significant vendors do not have to be licensed if they acquire a ‘certificate of suitability’ from a regulator.

Like many bills that have preceded it, the Barton bill contains a ‘bad actor’ clause, excluding certain operators from licensing eligibility. In this case, the bill contains a five-year licensing prohibition for any operator convicted of accepting online poker bets “in felony violation of federal or state law.” A similar prohibition applies to anyone who purchases online poker assets from any convicted individual. Also excluded from eligibility is anyone convicted of an offence punishable by one or more years in prison or anyone delinquent in payment of any federal or state taxes. The wording of the ‘bad actor’ provision will be a hot topic of debate

between land-based casinos, which favour such wording, and the big names in online poker, which would potentially be excluded by its inclusion. Applicants whose affiliates previously participated in the US-facing market would also be deemed unsuitable under this licensing scheme.

Conclusion Although, in recent interviews, Barton has said that the “House will be serious” about his online poker bill, limiting the offering to poker-only and including ‘bad actor’ language is probably enough to sink this bill, which is Barton’s second attempt in two years to legalise online poker. Despite its name, the bill limits the ‘freedom’ of individual states like New Jersey to offer online casino games, and, as a result, further limits the ability of gaming affiliates to reach players who are interested in something other than poker.

RACHEL HIRSCH is an associate at Ifrah PLLC, a Washington, D.C.-based law firm. She focuses her practice on complex litigation and transactions, with a particular emphasis on i-Gaming and Internet marketing and advertising.

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INSIGHT

Playtech’s Low Risk

Poker Strategy One of the more interesting recent acquisitions in the gaming industry came when Playtech announced that it had bought the renowned affiliate, PokerStrategy, for €38.3 million. This issue, iGB Affiliate spoke to Playtech CEO, Mor Weizer, about the deal. Why is the acquisition of PokerStrategy a good strategic fit for Playtech? This acquisition is complementary to both the Poker product and PTTS division. It is one of the largest poker affiliates in the world and provides Playtech with the ability to gain quick entry to new markets through immediately introducing its licensees with new players through a community-based model. It also diversifies Playtech’s position and further cements its relationship with its licensees, bringing greater opportunities for PTTS with poker licensees in both existing and new markets where the PokerStrategy community has a presence. In terms of defining your leading position in the poker market, how does this acquisition fulfil your strategic ambitions over other potential targets? This acquisition enables us to strengthen our position as the biggest B2B poker network through controlling a significant position in the value chain. Playtech is now able to push more traffic to its licensees in the various markets and, therefore, increase the attractiveness of its poker offerings in any new market. Have you been considering other options in the poker market? Does this acquisition complete your objectives or will you continue to look for other opportunities in poker should they prove strategically sound investments? We see this as another bolt-on acquisition that will further strengthen our leading position, regardless, we will continue to explore further opportunities, whether in Poker and or in other areas of the business.

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How does PokerStrategy stand to benefit from becoming a division of Playtech following the acquisition? We believe the community-based poker school is highly complementary to the poker offering, and will increase the attractiveness of the network to both players and licensees. Furthermore, the combination of the capabilities of PTTS and PokerStrategy will enable the generation of higher player value to its licensees. From what we gather, Dominik Kofert and Enrique Guzmán will remain with PokerStrategy on a consultancy basis, but how much input will they have in the running of the business from here – will it be directly overseen by Playtech? This will be the same as in previous successful acquisitions carried out by Playtech where the key personnel are in the business and incentivised to continue and drive the business forward. Dominik and Enrique will further support that through their consultancy services, and their input will enable a smooth transition of knowledge and continued support. What does this acquisition say about Playtech? How do you hope this deal is digested by the gaming and investor communities? Playtech has proven itself to be very successful in identifying the right acquisition opportunities to the group; this has been proven with Mobenga, Virtue fusion, Ash, and more. We believe this acquisition further strengthens our position on successful bolt-on acquisitions and in identifying the right earnings enhancing transactions which will bring value to the company’s shareholders.

Playtech acquires PokerStrategy.com – a low risk deal from a financial perspective Looking at the deal from a financial perspective, Playtech paid €38.3 million, which is less than twice PokerStrategy’s 2012 profit before tax. While there is no denying that PokerStrategy’s revenue line will come under pressure with the loss of two of its bigger customers and the structural weakness in the poker market, this is an extremely attractive multiple (deals for two years’ profits are very rare). PokerStrategy will contractually continue to receive revenues from both these clients until 2015, which means that even with a pretty aggressive drop in revenues, Playtech is likely to recoup its entire outlay on this acquisition in the short-term. So the financials of the deal make sense, the next question is does it fit strategically? This is a more difficult question to answer at this stage. It will strengthen the poker offering of Playtech’s services business (PTTS), and it should become a key acquisition and retention tool for the iPoker network. In addition, in time, there should be synergy benefits for the group to take advantage of. However, PokerStrategy has lost two of its larger clients and some may question whether PokerStars may decide to stop using it as a marketing channel, given the perceived view that the iPoker network will get priority. Only time will tell whether non-iPoker clients will continue to use PokerStrategy as a service, but given the low multiple that was paid, this acquisition is a very low risk investment for Playtech. By Gavin Kelleher Research Analyst at Goodbody Stockbrokers.


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27/03/2013 14:25


INSIGHT

Responsible Marketing

and Advertising of Gambling By Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies at the International Gaming Research Unit of Nottingham Trent University. Over the last few years, there has been a great deal of speculation over the role of advertising as a possible stimulus to increased gambling, and as a contributor to problem gambling (including underage gambling). Various lobby groups (antigambling coalitions, religious groups, etc) claim advertising has played a role in the widespread cultural acceptance of gambling. These groups also claim casino advertising tends to use glamorous images and beautiful people to sell gambling, while other advertisements for lottery tickets and poker machines depict ordinary people winning vast amounts from a single coin in the slot. Around the world, various lobby groups claim that advertisements used by the gambling industry often border on misrepresentations and distortion. There are further claims that adverts are seductive, appealing to people’s greed and desperation for money. Real examples include: “Winning is easy”, “Win a truckload of cash” and “$600,000 giveaway simply by inserting card into the poker machine”. Lobby groups further claim that in amongst the thousands of words and images of encouragement, there is rarely anything about the odds of winning, let alone the odds of losing. It has also been claimed that many gambling adverts feature get-rich-quick slogans that sometimes denigrate the values of hard work, initiative, responsibility, perseverance, optimism, investing for the future, and even education. Those promoting gambling products typically respond in a number of ways. The most popular arguments used to defend such marketing and advertising is that: (i) the gaming industry is in the business of selling fantasies and dreams, (ii) consumers know the claims are excessive, (iii) big claims are made to catch people’s attention, (iv) people don’t really believe these advertisements, and (v) business

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advertising is not there to emphasise ‘negative’ aspects of products. While some of these industry responses have some merit, a much fairer balance is needed. Statements such as “winning is easy” are most likely (in a legal sense) considered to be ‘puffery’. Puffery involves making exaggerated statements of opinion (not fact) to attract attention. Various jurisdictions deem it is not misleading or deceptive to engage in puffery. Whether a statement is puffery will depend on the circumstances. A claim is less likely to be puffery if its accuracy can be assessed. The use of a claim such as “winning is easy” is likely to be considered puffery because it is subjective and cannot be assessed for accuracy. However, a statement like “five chances to win a million” may not be puffery as it likely to be measurable. Gambling advertising also plays an important role in ‘normalising’ gambling. Content analyses of gambling adverts have reported that gambling is portrayed as a normal, enjoyable form of entertainment involving fun and excitement. Furthermore, they are often centred on friends and social events. The likelihood of large financial gain is often a central theme, with gambling also viewed as a way to escape day-to-day pressures (one gaming company’s advertising even had the strap line “Bet to forget”). Research has found that there is a large public awareness of gambling advertising, and that problem gamblers often mention advertising as a trigger to gambling. An example of good practice is that of Canadian gaming operator, Loto-Quebec. It carried out a thorough review of its advertising code and some of the key aspects in terms of responsible marketing and advertising of gambling included: ●●A marketing policy that (i) prohibits any advertising that is overly aggressive, (ii) rejects concepts liable to incite the

interest of children, (iii) prohibits the use of spokespeople who are popular among youth, and (iv) prohibits placement of advertisements within media programmes viewed mainly by minors. ●●The odds of winning are highlighted. This is being done in response to the suggestions expressed so frequently by various groups interested in knowing their chances of winning. ●●Television commercials for new products devote 20 percent of their airtime to promoting the gambling helpline and to presenting warnings about problem gambling. ●●A policy that prohibits the targeting of any particular group or community for the purposes of promoting its products. For example, one of the instant lotteries used a Chinese theme to stimulate interest. However, the Chinese community did not agree with making references to its customs in order to promote the game. Out of respect for this community, the game was immediately suspended. As various national and international advertising regulation bodies have advocated, socially responsible advertising should form one of the elements of protection afforded to ordinary customers and be reflected in the codes of practice. Personally, I believe that gambling advertising should focus on buying entertainment rather than winning money. Gambling problems often occur when an individual’s primary reason to gamble is to win money. Quite clearly it is appropriate and necessary for the gaming industry to advertise, market, and promote its facilities and products. However, I believe that all advertising and marketing should be carried out in a socially responsible manner as it is good for long-term repeat business.


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SEO SECURITY AUDIT IS YOUR SITE AT RISK? The great promise of the web is fascinating: anyone can create a site in a matter of minutes and profit from it. However, it’s not enough to just build and rank a site – keeping your site safe and ensuring nothing is going to hurt your rankings is a different story. THE RECENT UPDATES by Google, a search engine that remains the primary source of traffic for most sites, have shown more clearly than ever that your rankings are not a given, and it’s easy to lose them because of a mistake you make or even negative SEO performed against your site by others. Many site owners and webmasters happen not to be very technically advanced. Popular Content Management Systems (CMS) that make creating sites possible for many of them are not perfectly secure and do not always guarantee a perfectly SEO-friendly and secure site structure. All of this led me to start offering SEO security consulting back in 2008.

their site is still available if they remove the search widget from the template – yet, just by using the standard URL structure, one can access the search results on a site. To make matters worse, there are two ways in a default WordPress configuration to access the same search results – e.g. http://www.domain.com/search/keyword and http://www.domain.com/?s=keyword – and neither of them is closed from indexing by default. Just one of the risks this can lead to is having a site indexed for unrelated queries, such as those typically characteristic in bad neighbourhoods (depending on the niche the site is in). Another risk is duplicate content even if the legitimate search results get indexed. Talking of duplicate content and CMSs,

unfortunately, most popular platforms do not take care of it by default. Figure 1 shows the multiple ways of accessing the same content in a default WordPress site: as an individual post, as part of a tag page, category page, archive and search results. Duplicate content poses a serious threat to a site’s ranking power as, despite all the recent updates, Google is still not very good with attributing the original source of the content. External copies of a site’s content on third-party sites can often outrank the original or, in the most severe cases, get the original site penalised. With duplicate content issues onsite, website owners make that outcome even more likely, as the power of the main URL is diluted by having multiple copies of the same content.

What is an SEO security audit? SEO security audits are not often talked about, and this is completely undeserved. The term most people are familiar with is ‘link audit’ (something that most SEOs seem to do after getting an unnatural links warning from Google – we will get to this later and see why this is a wrong practice). SEO security audits cover much more than just links. Often, a site’s problems will have little or nothing to do with links but be caused by site architecture, duplicate content issues, faulty plug-ins, bad redirects, incorrect use of robots.txt, and so on. Sure, we look at the link profile as well during an SEO security audit, but in ways that traditional link audits often miss. One striking example: ‘indexable’ search results. Most popular CMSs are guilty of this in their default configuration, but for the sake of an example, we’ll look at WordPress. The site owners may not even be aware that the search functionality on

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Figure 1: multiple indexable instances of the same content due to WordPress default site structure

 


INSIGHT

Bad redirects are another issue that can result in getting a site fully or partially de-indexed. The same used to be true about incorrect implementation of the canonical tags when they were first introduced, but as of now, Google representatives have stated repeatedly that incorrect canonicals would simply get ignored. Most popular CMSs have means of extending their functionality via plug-ins, but this opens another door to potential risks. Insecure plug-ins give their developers unauthorised access to your site and can result in them planting malware on your server or inserting links to third-party sites without your knowledge or approval. Malware can cause major disruptions to a site’s traffic and rankings as Google would display a malware warning and prevent visitors from accessing the infected site directly. Having a Google Webmaster Tools account associated with a site can help in diagnosing and eliminating malware. Google Webmaster Tools’ Health -> Blocked URLs section can also be very helpful in testing the robots.txt file and making sure it is correct. Blocking a site from indexing via incorrect robots instructions can also cause de-indexing. Also, make sure robots. txt and on-page meta robots instructions do not contradict the XML sitemap submitted to Google Webmaster Tools.

Checking all of these elements takes up a lot of time and effort but ScreamingFrog is one tool that can come to the rescue. Crawling a site with ScreamingFrog can help check all the titles and meta descriptions at a glance, discover faulty redirects, spot possible duplicate pages, check canonicals and even hunt down unauthorised links to third-party sites.

Offsite issues and negative SEO There is no point in denying that negative SEO exists. Its effects can be devastating: Figure 2 shows traffic drop of a site that had a negative SEO campaign run against it. Why is negative SEO possible? Positive SEO factors help a site rank; negative factors are responsible for its rankings dropping. As soon as any known (usually offsite) factor becomes subject to Google penalties or bans, it means it can be used deliberately with the purpose of dropping a site from the SERPs. Google has acknowledged the problem by changing the wording of the corresponding webmaster answer in May 2012 from, “…there’s almost nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking” to, “Google works hard to prevent other webmasters from being able to harm your ranking”. Unfortunately, there is not much Google can do in this case as this is the internal logic of its algorithm – a

ranking factor is either positive or negative, or ignored, with no regard as to who created it. Hence, it is up to the webmasters to protect themselves. It is likely impossible to make a site 100 percent immune to negative SEO, but if it takes more effort and resources to run a negative campaign against a site than the benefit that can be had from dropping the site in question from the SERPs, there is a good chance that this negative campaign will not happen. That said, it is worth stressing that in many cases, negative SEO has nothing to do with a site’s problems, but rather the site owner’s mistakes, including onsite issues described earlier, caused them. However, there is often a combination of the site owner’s mistakes making it easier to run the negative campaign. Negative SEO is all about looking for weaknesses and exploiting them against a site. In terms of offsite factors, sites with weaker link profiles tend to be an easier target. This is where the ‘link audit’ part begins. There’s no need to wait for an email from Google, the link profile should be reviewed as early as possible and this review should be repeated every once in a while. This way, a site can be saved not only from negative SEO but also from Google penalties before they take place, and the link building strategy can be adjusted accordingly.

Figure 2: traffic drop resulting from a negative SEO campaign

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Figure 3: a spike of interest in link removal caused by Penguin

  Figure 4: a site’s link profile segmented into groups by risk factors in LinkRisk

  There are no universal recommendations on what a link profile should be like, contrary to popular beliefs. Sure, you want to have quality on-topic links acquired steadily, but you also have to compare a site’s link profile to other sites in the same vertical. This is true of anchor text distribution, speed of link acquisition, quality characteristics of links such as MajesticSEO’s Citation Flow and Trust Flow, and the amount of nofollow links in the link profile. Extra risks do not come from a certain pattern in a link profile, per se – they come when a site’s link profile sticks out of what’s typical for its niche. MajesticSEO is a great tool for keeping track of a site’s links and detecting possible negative SEO attempts. Some things worth keeping an eye on include: ●●sudden increases in acquired links without any apparent reason; ●●unrelated anchor texts appearing in the link profile, especially those associated with bad neighbourhoods (although

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negative SEO can be carried out without using ‘bad’ anchor texts, by simply overdoing a site’s targeted commercial keywords as anchor texts); ●●sudden drops of Trust Flow (TF) – (TF is a great metric allowing for a quick estimate of a link’s quality. The lower the TF, the spammier the link – this is true in an absolute majority of cases); ●●sudden increases in the number of deleted links. The issue of deleted links deserves a bit more attention. Google’s post-Penguin encouragement for webmasters to remove low quality links led to yet another extra negative SEO opportunity – nobody is surprised by link removal requests any more. In a recent study published by Craig Addyman of Bronco, a shocking statistic has been revealed: 39 percent of site owners contacted with link removal requests removed the links without verifying the identity of the person

contacting them or this person’s relation to the site represented – no questions asked at all. Think how much harm it would cause your site if, one day, its strongest links disappeared. LinkRisk is another tool that comes in handy when evaluating the risks associated with a site’s link profile. It lets you quickly segment links by known quality indicators. Two things should be kept in mind, however, that: 1. No matter how good a tool is, only use it for preliminary segmenting – identified suspect links still need to be reviewed manually by somebody very experienced before making the final judgement; 2. Do not look at one site in isolation – analyse a group of sites in the same vertical so you can get the feel of the norm in the given vertical. What’s normal and typical for one niche may be outright spammy and unacceptable in another. Finally, and by no means least, a site can be harmed not only by losing rankings. Online reputation, be it the brand SERPs or social media mentions, can make or break a business. SEO security audits should deal with identifying potential online reputation risks as well. To sum things up, don’t leave your SEO security up to chance. Make sure you know the risks and do everything under your control to minimise them.

Julia Logan, AKA IrishWonder, has been involved in SEO and online marketing since 2000, working on both her own affiliate sites and client projects in different markets, gambling included. She has published a series of case studies on gambling SERPs on her blog at http://irishwonder.syndk8. co.uk. Julia is an SEO consultant at irishwonder.com, a moderator of the Syndk8 blackhat SEO forum and Chief SEO Scientist at SearchWorksDigital. com. SEO security audits are one of Julia’s specialties that she has been offering since 2008. She can be contacted for a site audit and other SEO services at info@irishwonder.com or followed on Twitter (@irishwonder) for ongoing SEO related updates, observations and opinions.


KYC. Age Verification. IP Geolocation. Money In. Money Out. Mobile Payments.


INSIGHT

Social and Mobile Marketing By Odelia Lahajani, co-Founder and CEO of BizUapp. One of our biggest challenges as affiliates and operators is to adjust to changing user behaviour and to the evolutions within the social marketing scene. In the last few years – since Facebook penetrated our lives – it has become apparent that the user’s needs and demands within the social arena have changed, extending beyond sharing statuses and pictures to include the consumption of online gaming products.

Facebook and Mobile traffic

Mobile Application

Website

Facebook application

Facebook Page

Social networks and mobile devices are now providing users with accessible platforms for sharing experiences. We can’t point to any individual campaign, creative or game type that will succeed on these channels: casino, poker, bingo, and much else besides can become a success as long as they cater to the needs of the user. Facebook and mobile marketing are not limited to Facebook or mobile applications; yes, it’s easier to promote them, just like it’s easier to promote a website on Google, but is it smart to ignore this channel? Shouldn’t we discover how best to drive traffic from these significant and cheaper channels? In social marketing, you can promote your application, Facebook page, website, mobile website or mobile application, with each product needing to be promoted in a different way in order to make sure of a successful campaign.

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In order to understand the Facebook and mobile marketing options, we should look at user behaviour and at the market potential. For example, on Facebook we can find: ●●1 billion active users, of which 50 percent log in on a daily basis. ●●665 million daily active users. ●●200 million users play Facebook games on a monthly basis. ●●20 percent of Facebook web users play games. ●●19 percent say they are ‘hooked’ and 20 percent have paid cash. These numbers support the fact that Facebook has become one of the biggest channels for game players and, therefore, potential clients. By utilising this channel of 56 million people that play on a daily basis at a monthly average of 421 minutes, companies can expose their products and games to a targeted traffic source at low cost; the only secret is knowing how to optimise your campaign.

Optimisation The optimisation process starts with the understanding that social marketing today is not only Facebook web marketing, but also mobile marketing: ●●In 2012, Facebook had 60.4 percent mobile penetration. ●●55 percent of the top 400 iOS apps are integrated within Facebook. ●●There are now 751 million mobile active users, an increase of 71 million. ●●189 million are mobile-only active users, a 42 million increase quarter-to-quarter. ●●More users than ever are solely using their mobile devices to connect to the social network as evidenced by the increase of 124 percent in Q1 2012.

By understanding who your user is, what he is looking for and the ad exposure process, we can optimise our campaign and drive quality traffic to our page, game, application or website. The basic rules that we follow at BizUapp are as follows:


INSIGHT

+5

+5

+5 +5 +5 CANDY CRUSH DAILY REVENUE (ESTIMATED)

$

ZYNGA’S Q1 2013 REVENUE

$

$632,867

FB Application vs Website

Mobile App vs Mob Site

FB App

Web site

Mobile App

Mobile site

• No use for landing pages

• Landing pages are mandatory

• Top 25

• Use affiliate networks

• Implement click change

• Social users need special offers

• Organic Traffic

• Run FB/Google CPC

• Create internal social

• Click Exchange

Product

On many occasions, we find clients approaching us with questions like: “Can I market my product on social networks… are you sure it will work?” This is why before we start any campaign we need to understand what our product is and to define the basic rules for the campaign’s strategies. For example, let’s review a Facebook application VS a regular website:

Facebook application 1. N  o need for a landing page: we are going to keep the user within the area he is in without adding another conversion step. 2. Implement Facebook affiliate click exchange networks: unlike traditional web gaming platforms, click exchange networks are highly recommended on the Facebook channel. 3. Use Facebook social arena: use all of the tools Facebook allows to grow your application.

campaigns • Create social retention plan

functionality

Strategy

An additional example is mobile marketing and the difference between mobile app and mobile website marketing strategies:

Mobile app 1. T  op 25: by using incentives, you can place your application at the top of the scale. 2. Use organic traffic: spend minimum costs/resources on traffic and make sure your product is organic. 3. Use click exchange networks: you are not paying users to drive fresh traffic to your application.

Mobile site 1. U  se affiliate networks: find new channels; you don’t know it all. 2. Optimise your CPC campaigns: learn and hire a professional team with social and mobile expertise. 3. Create a social plan for social users.

Regular website 1. L  anding page is mandatory: the user is leaving his trusted arena.

$

$263.5$ MILLION $

2. O  ffer special promotions for Facebook users: users from social networks need to feel at home – offer them special campaigns. 3. Create internal social functionality: try to add social capabilities to your website.

• Use FB social arena

$

$

1. D  efine your product well: make sure your product is social and has social functionality for your users. 2. Understanding your target audience: who are we looking for? What are they looking for? 3. Learn new marketing strategies: be creative, think outside of the box.

functionality

(ACCORDING TO Q1 EARNINGS REPORT)

Finally, like in every other channel, in order to succeed you need to adjust your

thinking, your tools and your goals to the campaign and channel you are running, as well as to your target audience. If we use Candy Crush and Zynga Poker as an example; these companies didn’t invent these games but they made the effort to understand their target audience, what they wanted within the social platform, and implemented it. Candy Crush and Zynga Poker already existed in one form or another, but these companies knew how to make it work. We always recommend that our clients follow the basic key factor: social marketing is different than traditional web marketing; the CTR is different and the users are different, and ignoring this growing channel may leave you and your product behind. We recommend exploring this market with your professional team, or with marketing companies, to maximise your abilities in this amazing channel.

ODELIA LAHAJANI is coFounder and CEO of BizUapp. BizUapp was built to help companies penetrate the social and mobile market by providing a focal point for business development strategies, marketing and monetisation consultation and services. The company was built by Odelia and in the last few years has managed projects for social, mobile and gaming companies such as maudau, Spiral Solutions, GamingVC, Techfinancial and more. In the past, Odelia held marketing positions within the online gaming industry (888) as well as in the financial and trade industry (Super Derivatives). Odelia is one of the founders of the Binary Options industry and served as Business Development Director with Tradologic and COO at www.optionbit. com and Co-Founder of www.Lajani. com, for additional information contact: Marketing@BizUapp.com or visit www.BizUapp.com.

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THE FUTURE OF PAYMENT PROCESSING IN THE US Jeremy Enke, Founder of Poker Affiliate Listings, speaks to Skrill USA CEO, Neil Steinhardt, about the payment processing industry in the emerging US online poker market. WITH THE DEBUT of the first regulated online poker room (UltimatePoker. com) in April 2013, it is all but imminent that regulation is going to become more widespread throughout the US market. As more states begin to embrace regulated online poker, the importance for supporting niches to adapt will be critical. One of these supporting niches will undoubtedly be the payment processing industry. Both established and new payment processing companies within the online gaming space are currently preparing for this new market. In fact, payment processing powerhouse Skrill recently launched a US subsidiary, Skrill USA. We had the opportunity to sit down with Skrill USA CEO, Neil Steinhardt and get his thoughts on the emerging US market. Here is what Neil had to say. You recently took the position as CEO of Skrill USA – tell us a little about yourself and your background in the payment processing industry. I got my start in the payments industry almost 15 years ago, working for a bill payment company and licensed moneytransmitter. From there, I worked for a variety of transaction processing companies operating in the US and abroad. Most recently, I’ve held the role of Managing Director for paysafecard.com USA and the acquisition of paysafecard by

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Skrill in March saw my appointment as CEO of Skrill USA. I’m now heading up a licensed money transmitter through my new role at Skrill, so it seems I’ve come full circle in my career. With online gaming re-emerging in the US market and states such as Nevada legalising online poker, what are some of the biggest challenges or obstacles for payment processors looking to re-enter this market? The fractured nature of the regulatory environment in the US and the ability for each state to make its own rules presents a challenge for all market participants. The biggest impact of Nevada is that this state is first. Even though its intra-state market is not a top ten market from a population point of view, Nevada was first to go live. However, the US is not a one-sizefits-all market and this manifests itself in many ways. Even today, the Nevada Gaming Commission is continuing to clarify its position on payment processors and, while setting a precedent is a good thing, each state can continue to adopt differing regulations and requirements. This is probably a bigger challenge for the operators than the payment processors but it’s certainly something we keep an eye on at Skrill. If horse racing is any guide, there will not be blanket participation by the banks and I can see some issues with card associations.

There will also be security issues as it’s critical to know if the person playing a game on your site is from a legal state. ID verification will be important when it comes to making payments and some states have said they will embrace geolocation. Can the strategies that Skrill/Moneybookers has used to become such a powerhouse in the European market be easily emulated in the emerging US market? Absolutely. Despite a more complex market in the US, there is no reason why Skrill cannot replicate its European success in the US market. Skrill became a market leader because it understands how to develop intuitive products that consumers love, while providing the functionality and security that reassures our partners. Skrill has played a major role in evolving the digital payments market, ensuring ease of use, high levels of user engagement and loyalty, rewards and security. These are all features that will be critical in ensuring our success in the US. Our relationships with the top operators highlight both our commitment to this particular industry, and the extra work it requires to process in the regulated gaming space. Skrill has tremendous relationships in other verticals like e-commerce and digital goods, but the gaming industry has unique requirements that are baked into our corporate DNA.


INSIGHT

With online gaming in the US becoming more intertwined with the bricks-andmortar casinos, does Skrill have any future plans to also work with land-based casinos as well as online gaming operators? Skrill excels in both online and offline payments, so we are well placed to work with land-based casinos in the US. I strongly believe that the US market will differ from Europe in its evolution, if for no other reason than the European market grew up online. The US market, with an assist from the federal and state-level governments, is going to develop along a different path. It presents a fantastic opportunity for the operators to engage with their customers and Skrill can help facilitate that relationship in a number of ways. The value proposition of Skrill is to help the operators monetise their customers while offering the security and ease of use to control their funds. Traditionally, this has been a relationship facilitated online but in the emerging US market, it’s also going to be on mobile and in physical locations. Post-UIGEA, Skrill was one of the first payment processors to exit the US market.

Fast forward to today, how much advantage does this give to Skrill to re-emerge as one of the top payment processors in a regulated US market. Skrill has an advantage in re-emerging into the US market. Firstly, we’ve demonstrated that we want to play by the rules. Secondly, while we pulled out of the US gaming market we continued to have a presence in the US and have taken the time to solidify our value proposition for the operators. Most significantly, we have obtained all of our state money transmission licences and this is a unique differentiator among wallet operators. It is both costly and time consuming, but shows our commitment to the US market and our desire to be a strong partner for the operators.

Conclusion

As CEO of Skrill USA, what are a few of your main objectives over the next 24 months? Like any company, Skrill has fiscal goals and a responsibility to deliver a return to our investors, but for the team, I try to make our goals more about the value that Skrill can deliver. I want to have the best

After interviewing Neil, there is no doubt that Skrill is indeed preparing to be a major player in the new US gaming market. While nobody knows exactly what this new era of online gaming in the US will hold, one thing is certain: the importance of reliable payment processing will be paramount to any brand’s overall success. conversion rate optimization.

product on the market and that means engaging with our customers and partners to deliver the best experience possible. Additionally, I want the whole team to be excited and engaged with the opportunity being presented right now. I believe the opening of the US gaming market is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we need to be successful from the start. To do so, we must harness the support and expertise of our European colleagues, develop our US vendors, educate our regulators and attract and develop top talent. By doing these things well, I am confident that the Skrill USA story will be a success story.

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LESS COMMON MORE SENSE

GAMBLING NEWS WITH AN EDGE

© CalvinAyre.com | 2013

1307004-CA_Advert.indd 1

7/11/13 9:09 AM


INSIGHT

MOBILE GAMING NEW GAME, NEW RULES By Aideen Shortt, iGaming Consultant. ONE OF THE least understood areas of mobile gambling has been its impact on affiliates. At the outset, affiliates were extremely reluctant to get involved in mobile gambling, preferring instead to stick to the familiar desktop traffic. Initial concerns were that there were not enough operators in the mobile field, and that standards and the quality of mobile gambling offerings were varied and somewhat lacking in the early days. In addition to all that, there was, and still is, a lot of confusion and a lack of understanding of the mobile marketplace amongst affiliates. That being said, many of the these issues have now been resolved, and with a huge amount of an affiliate’s organic traffic coming from mobile together with the stellar growth of the platform, it can no longer be ignored as part of a successful future business. In Q1 2013, Juniper Research released new projections for mobile wagering,

predicting that turnover will reach $100 billion by 2017. Currently, sportsbetting accounts for approximately 70 percent of this total, but gaming product are growing very quickly and will claim the dominant share of revenues by the time the $100 billion mark is reached. Some of the leading operators are already seeing mobile revenues, as a percentage of interactive, reach and exceed 40 percent, with expectations that mobile will exceed half of all digital gambling business in the next 12 to 18 months. ●●Mobile gambling accounted for 32 percent of Paddy Power’s online revenues in 2012, but the company’s recent interim release showed that this component has grown to 42 percent. ●●Betfair’s third quarter results in 2012 outlined that the mobile channel alone accounted for 50 percent of new registrations and the company processed 44 million mobile bets in financial year 2012.

●●Mobile

currently represents approximately 35 percent of William Hill’s interactive revenues, and CEO Ralph Topping recently publicly declared a target of 40 percent by the end of 2013. ●●16 percent of Unibet’s revenues came from mobile in the operator’s most recent quarterly results – with mobile’s contribution to sportsbook revenues being identified as already approaching 40 percent. ●●Scandinavian operator Leo Vegas has grown from zero in January 2012 to the point where customers are generating over €1 million in weekly deposits. That mobile is a platform that affiliates must wholly embrace is now nonnegotiable. However, with the constantly changing landscape, it is imperative to eliminate any concerns, find a resolution or compromise to the issues unique to the platform, and to keep abreast of all that is going on in order to achieve success.

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INSIGHT

Total Wager on Mobile devices ($m) 2011 - 2017 $120,000

$100,000

sanctioned by Google and the search algorithms. Importantly, when it comes to links, mobile sites have a much smaller area of size for which to display any links, so linking to and from other sites needs to be very tightly related to the niche and brand involved. Text-based links will become critical rather than flashing banners and buttons which will overwhelm the consumer on a smaller screen.

$80,000

$60,000

$40,000

$20,000

Tracking $0 2011

2012

RoW

Asia

2013

Europe

2014

2015

2016

2017

North America

Source: Juniper Research

Mobile search Mobile search is very different from its desktop counterpart, and this necessitates a specific mobile search strategy. Simply mimicking or replicating the desktop strategy is insufficient and ineffective. ●●On

average, search queries will be 25 percent shorter due to the fact that typing on a handset is harder and less precise than using a keyboard. ●●Spelling mistakes are common in mobile search. ●●Long-tail searches are less common on mobile than on desktop. The average mobile search takes approximately 30 key presses and 40 seconds to enter. ●●Mobile searches will very frequently use the word ‘mobile’ in them. ●●59 percent of searchers only look at first page SERPs on mobile ●●Mobile searchers will opt for a Google suggested query far more frequently; therefore, predictive search reveals a new SEO prospect – making it imperative to be ranked for the most common predictive phrases. ●●Day parting is crucial as different devices are used at different times.

PPC Paid search is also subject to extensive mobile modifications – principally since June 2013, when Google rolled out a new Enhanced Ad Campaign structure. The new format requires a significant change in tactics to be successful in any way. The key factors are: ●●Removal of tablet-only campaigns (i.e.

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can’t target Smartphones without desktop) in mobile/desktop campaigns ●●Removal of OS targeting options ●●Stackable bid multipliers for: – Geolocation – Time – Device – Scheduling ●●Improved site link reporting ●●Calls and app download reporting options ●●Cross-device tracking While there are benefits and hindrances to the new regime, regardless, there is a need for intrinsic changes from the affiliate perspective. ●●Changes

Affiliate portals and sites The mobile platform is not just a small screen Internet, therefore, a mobile optimised site is a pre-requisite. Users spend less time on mobile Internet – typically one to eight minutes – and they visit less pages; something which an affiliate’s website needs to accommodate. In addition, the purpose of visits is very functional and precise. Aimless browsing is something left for desktop activity, so an affiliate’s portal needs to understand the consumer behaviour in order to maximise its effectiveness. Consumers frequently visit mobile sites in response to questions they have: “What is...?” “Where is…?” “How can I...?” etc, therefore, content that is presented must be considered and tactful. Sites need to be optimised per screen and reduce or eliminate the need for touch or pinching to resize. Responsive design is the best option and, in fact, has been

Although resolutions are being implemented, tracking has long been problematic on the mobile platform for a variety of reasons, including: a. Apps, particularly those on the Apple App Store, pose substantial difficulties because tracking stops at the point of download. There are many third-party solutions, however, one of the biggest problems facing affiliates has been that operators work on a ‘last click wins’ model and if that is sent to an app, then the affiliate loses out on legitimate revenue. One solution has been to heavily push users to a website, rather than an app, however, this is not ideal for the long-term given that apps are more popular than mobile websites to a significant degree, and also gamblers simply spend more money in apps, so there is more affiliate revenue to be made in the long-term. b. The desktop advertising industry has long had standards regarding cookies but it is not the same situation for mobile, where cookies are either not available, not reliable/persistent or have restrictions. On Android devices, this is not so much of an issue, as cookies work the same as on the web – but it is Apple that poses an issue in that it doesn’t permit third-party cookies at all, and it’s ‘default’ option for first-party cookies is set to block them; so it’s up to the user to change this setting. The long and the short of the matter is that there will be short-term problems that need to be overcome, and to this end, for maximum success, affiliates and operators will have to work in closer partnership than ever before on everything from workable commercials to two-way feedback, as all parties learn more about the affiliate mobile space and working together to create ideal affiliate toolkits that go beyond the static banners that work so well on desktop.


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Special Report – Start-up Affiliates

The Legal Lowdown Eitan Jankelewitz, Intellectual Property Lawyer at Sheridans, explores the legal considerations when starting a gambling affiliate website. Gambling affiliates can be

Website terms of use

great businesses and new affiliates are entering the market all of the time. If you are thinking of getting a gambling affiliate website started, there are a few things to consider from a legal perspective and it’s important to get these things right from the beginning. By being mindful of applicable laws and regulations, affiliates can maximise the value of their IP, stay out of trouble with regulators and make themselves as attractive as possible to potential investors.

These terms set out how the website can be used by visitors. At its most basic, this document will let visitors know who is operating the site and explain how any content on the site can be used. Website terms of use also contain notices to help limit the liability of the website operator if a visitor somehow loses out by using the website. If the website permits user generated content to be posted, perhaps in the form of a messaging feature or a forum, this will also need to be regulated in the terms of use. On the one hand, visitors need to be aware that posting vulgar or offensive content is not acceptable; on the other hand, visitors should be warned that some of the user generated content on the website might be inappropriate. Depending on the type of affiliate website you are operating, you will need additional terms to cover the relationship between the website and the visitor. For example, if you are operating a cashback/rakeback site, you

Business name First of all, the business will need a name. Not only should you check that the domain name you want is available, but also that the trademark, company name, Twitter handle and Facebook account are available (along with any other social networks). Buying this IP when you have already started to develop your brand can be expensive, especially if the seller knows you really want it.

will need terms to explain how accounts can be used, how cashback is earned, how cashback can be withdrawn and any conditions for participation. When adopting website terms of use, make sure that the language is understandable and that the terms are fair. Any onerous terms should be brought to the reader’s attention or they may be considered unfair and, therefore, unenforceable in the courts. The more severe the term, the more important it is to make that term more conspicuous.

Privacy policy and use of data First of all, your business should notify the Information Commissioner’s Office if it is going to be processing personal data. ‘Processing’ in this context even includes storing data, and ‘personal data’ can include anything that enables a person to be identified. The process is pretty straightforward and can be done online for a small fee.

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Special Report – Start-up Affiliates

You should post a privacy policy on your website which explains how your business will use personal data. The privacy policy should state what kinds of personal data are being processed and the purposes of that processing. When describing each purpose, you should give brief details and try to avoid generic statements like “We use personal data to improve user experience”. In order to keep the policy short and understandable, you could use a layered structure which allows the reader to click to sub-pages if they happen to be interested in a particular subject. This means that you can go into more detail on some subjects, such as the purposes of data processing, without making the privacy policy too cumbersome to read. If you want to contact people by email, you need their agreement in advance. If the individual agrees on the basis of a preticked box, you can provide information about similar products or services as long as each email allows for the recipient to unsubscribe. If you want to send emails about unrelated products or services, or allow third-parties to send the emails, you will need the recipients to tick the box themselves in order to ‘opt in’. By getting proper consents to the processing of personal data (in the privacy policy) and the sending of emails (by ensuring individuals opt in), you can vastly increase the usefulness and value of your databases. If individuals are aware that you will process personal data for a wide range of purposes, you can derive more information from that data because you will be able to conduct more analysis. Similarly, individuals who opt in to email marketing can be sent emails about a wider range of topics by you or by third-parties. Finally, your website should contain a prominent notice which states that cookies are being dropped with a link to your privacy policy so people can find out more about how your website uses cookies.

Advertising codes The website itself, as well as any promotion of the website, needs to comply with the advertising standards issued by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), known as the CAP Code. You should also comply with standards released by

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the Office of Fair Trading. In addition to general advertising standards, the CAP Code contains standards relating specifically to advertising gambling products. In general, all advertising must be legal, decent, honest and truthful. It must also be clearly identifiable as advertising. A banner advertisement is obviously advertising, however, a blog advertorial containing text links may not necessarily be seen as advertising. Therefore, you should consider putting in a very short notice to highlight that the message is promotional. When advertising gambling, the CAP Code states that the message must not encourage reckless gambling, suggest that gambling improves attractiveness or solves financial problems. Individuals under the age of 18 must not be targeted and the advertisement must not feature anyone under the age of 25 (even if they are the subject of the bet). If you are using social media to promote your website, you can be held responsible for breaches of advertising standards caused by user generated posts if you have encouraged users to respond (for example by asking them to suggest reasons why they like your website). You can also be held responsible for user generated posts which you use as testimonials, or if the social media page is moderated so that all negative posts are removed. As with all advertising, a post on social media must be described as advertising if this is not apparent. The hashtags #ad and #spon have been adopted by Twitter users to identify which tweets are sponsored.

Jurisdiction Online gambling is prohibited in a large number of countries around the world and gambling operators will not accept players from territories which do not permit gambling. Therefore, you should focus your energy on gambling-friendly territories and even use geoblocking to ensure your links are only seen by those permitted to gamble.

Agreements with affiliate networks and gambling operators Some gambling operators run their own in-house affiliate programs, while others run their programs through affiliate networks. In either case, you will need to enter a contract with the operator or the network in order to take part in the affiliate program and earn commission. When you are starting out, you will be expected to agree to the standard terms of the program. As your business develops and once you have shown your value to the operator, you may be in a position to push back on the standard terms and request changes.

…and finally Keep an eye out for any changes to laws and regulations which may arise in the future. If you are changing your business practices, perhaps by working in a different way or by offering new products or features, you may find that new laws apply to you. Staying compliant may be as simple as changing a sentence in your privacy policy or terms of use.

Online advertising standards The CAP Code now contains some rules regarding online behavioural advertising, which require third-party providers to ensure that these adverts contain a link to an explanatory notice and an opt-out page. If you are using a third-party to provide online behavioural advertising, you should consider using a provider which has subscribed to the Your Online Choices initiative. This initiative was set up by the European Interactive Digital Advertising Alliance and has since been backed as a recommended way to comply with the notification and opt-out requirements of the CAP Code.

Eitan Jankelewitz is an intellectual property lawyer specialising in digital media, with a particular focus on Internet marketing. Eitan advises networks, publishers and advertisers on all software and technology matters affecting their businesses. He also has experience of advising the gaming sector. Eitan also has a comprehensive knowledge of the regulatory frameworks relating to website operation, including data privacy and protection, cookies, distance selling and direct marketing.


s at stand #D6 er tn r a P y a tP es B it Vis ce from at the BAC Conferen 13 the 03.10. – 06.10.20


SPECIAL REPORT: START-UP AFFILIATES

THE SOCIAL NETWORK To any new affiliate, entering the world of online affiliation isn’t so easy. Like any new business, it must be understood that everything takes time. Getting into the fiercely competitive world of online gaming and/ or online trading, places new affiliates in an extremely competitive arena. However, with the continued growth in social media and all of the changes constantly being made by Google to refine organic search results and discourage ‘black hat’ search engine optimisation, the current playing field is much more even than it has been for quite some time. THERE HAS BEEN a lot of press coverage about Google’s amendments to its search results algorithm. With names like Panda and Penguin being given to the latest algorithm releases, ‘black hat’ SEO marketers are increasingly likely to become an endangered species.

Getting started There are three key elements involved in online promotion: 1. Website 2. Mailing list 3. Social media channels

Website

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on casino-related domain names. First, the domain name itself needs to be ‘aged’. This means that new domains relating to casino (as well as other highly spammed domains such as adult, pharmaceuticals, diets, etc) need to be in existence with good content and no inbound spammed links for at least a year and above in order for Google to even consider the domain as a good source of information.

“Social media has managed to effectively destroy the attention span of most Internet users.”

Without going into too much detail about websites and search engine optimisation (as this is an endless topic), here’s a list of key points to be aware of: a. Choose a strong domain name b. Get a good hosting plan c. Create a site infrastructure (I would strongly recommend using WordPress) d. Create good content based on extensive keyword research e. Have a great plan to get real inbound links

The reason I am an advocate of WordPress for site building and management is that it gives non-technically minded people the ability to build a great website without knowing any programming languages. It also enables the site administrator to use ‘plug-ins’ to add many great features and excellent functionality to the site that will assist in the credibility of the site’s Google rankings. Additionally, WordPress templates are not expensive but have the ability to make a site look professional.

Any new webmaster attempting to create casino-related domains should also be aware that Google has a different outlook

Mailing list

iGB Affiliate AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2013

In association with a website, start to build a mailing list. There are many online

services, but a recommended mailing list service for many small budget operations is Aweber. In addition, if a site has been built in WordPress I would strongly recommend checking out plug-ins that can be used to capture leads from your website. I would also suggest some form of incentive in order to capture the emails and names of your site visitors. Two plug-ins worthy of taking a further look at are Clifton’s Light Box and Magic Action Box. The outcome is that every site visitor is presented with a pop-up box offering something exclusive and free in return for submitting their name and email address.

Social media channels There’s an endless choice of social media channels to choose from, but I would settle on the following: i. YouTube ii. Facebook iii. Twitter iv. Pinterest

YouTube Video tutorials, adverts and promotions are growing in popularity in terms of creation and views. People are far more likely to watch a 30 to 60 second video than read a 1,000 word article. Social media has managed to effectively destroy the attention span of most Internet users.


SPECIAL REPORT: START-UP AFFILIATES

Plus, video can be viewed on just about anything from a Smartphone to a desktop computer. Making a video is simple. It can be done as easily as creating an animated PowerPoint presentation and saving it as a video file, or using a readily available online programme such as Go Animate to create professional-looking productions.

Facebook Just about every site I’ve worked on in the past few months has had its pages repeatedly viewed by Facebook’s search engine. Whether or not this will have a major impact on web users’ searching habits remains to be seen, but it does highlight the importance of posting links to external websites in Facebook and getting them shared. Creating a Facebook page to represent an existing website is just the first step on the social media ladder to gain social exposure. Once again, linking WordPress sites to Facebook pages or vice versa is very easy using the right plug-in. This means that every article written on your site is then automatically posted on your Facebook page which, in turn, appears in the social news feed of the people following your page. Some recently released statistics from Facebook: ● Facebook mobile monthly active users increased by 22 percent in the UK, and is one of the most used apps by time spent. ● People open the Facebook app between 10 and 15 times per day. ● 751 million people are using Facebook on mobile, up 54 percent on last year. ● Approximately 82 percent of monthly active users are outside the US and Canada.

In March 2013, on average, 665 million people accessed Facebook each day, up 26 percent year-over-year and representing 60 percent of the 1.11 billion people who used Facebook during the month. People chose to proactively engage with Facebook, in unprecedented numbers, while disengage from TV, in particular. On Facebook, as of May 2013, there are around 4.75 billion content items shared daily and 4.5 billion ‘Likes’. More than 350 million photos are uploaded per day on average to Facebook. More than ten billion messages are sent each day in total on Facebook.

Twitter At first, it’s a little confusing understanding the benefits of Twitter, but imagine Facebook status updates and how they are shared and commented upon depending on what’s actually written in them. And then you have Twitter. Short, sweet and very much to the point, Twitter is a great way to get to the right people fast. Social media is two-way communication. Unlike traditional online media where a message was created and advertised, social media is all about the interaction within an ongoing conversation. Similar to the Facebook plug-in for WordPress, Twitter can also be easily integrated into any WordPressbased website and automatically tweet new articles and comments.

Pinterest The demographic of Pinterest is constantly changing, but the most recent statistic was that around 80 to 85 percent of Pinterest

users are women between the ages of 30 and 49. This fits into the user profile of online slots players quite nicely. Pinterest is an online scrapbook/bookmarking tool, where users can ‘pin’ pictures from different websites onto their own personal pinboards. Therefore, it’s all about the imagery and sharing cool and stunning pictures. It also has the ability to make great images go viral.

Summary In short, there are plenty of ways to promote yourself, your site, your social profile and the product(s) you’ve chosen to represent online. Even in a very competitive field, the Internet is developing at such a pace that there’s always a way to develop a niche style of marketing. The trick is to see what everyone else is doing, then either do it better or do it different.

MICHAEL KATZ is CEO and founder of Sociarati Media, a full service social media marketing agency specialising in strategy and campaign planning for the online gaming industry and driving players using social media. Michael also specialises in social affiliate marketing. Michael has been a part of the online gaming industry since 2002 and has specialised in social media since 2010. He can be contacted by email at Michael@sociaratimedia.com.

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Special Report: Start-up Affiliates

Start-up Affiliates and the US Poker Market 1.0 What you need to know about the challenges and opportunities, by Jason Rosenberg, CEO of American iGaming Solutions LLC. Needless to say, the last two years have been very interesting in the US market. While the rest of the world has been working successful online gaming operations, many industry colleagues feel that we are trying to recreate the wheel here in the United States. In some ways, this is very accurate. As an online gaming consultant to regulators, operators and service providers here in the United States, I have been asked to make presentations on dozens of topics and share my 11 years of experience in the online gaming industry. Sometimes, I feel like I have just walked out of a time machine and I have arrived seven or eight years back in time. I used to feel that folks over here were making it so much harder than it has to be. I start by referencing the aforementioned experience because I feel it is extremely important to make the following distinction between the US market and the rest of the world. The online gaming industry outside of the US is regulated in many parts of the world, but it was not always so. Back in the day, we experienced so many sites committing fraud, cheating players and affiliates, and operational failures. At the end of the day, there was really nowhere for a consumer or service provider to make a

legitimate complaint that would be acted on. Here in the United States, it is the opposite. Everything in the gaming industry is regulated. Nothing else is of primary importance than knowing what an operator can and cannot do before actually doing it. Yes, I agree with many of you; the need for massive amounts of regulation is partially lobbied by big business, but it is also for the protection of players and service providers. I have seen how this works up close and personal. Up until now, nothing else has mattered other than “how do we regulate this whole online gaming thing?” Now that a few US states have taken appropriate steps, the industry over here is really starting to look at the other parts of the online gaming machine. One presentation that I am almost always asked to discuss is on the subject of affiliates. Based on presenting this topic to hundreds of people, this article is meant to share some of the challenges that lie ahead for affiliates in the US online gaming market.

Explaining why you are a necessary component of their overall marketing strategy Remember, we are starting from ground zero. An operator first has to be legally able

to use affiliates, so we want them to lobby the regulators to allow affiliate marketing. In order to succeed in this effort, we first have to qualify this ‘new’ tool they can use. So far, the only comparison a land-based US operation has with anything remotely similar to an affiliate is that of a junketeer (example: I bring a bus full of people to a casino, they each get $40 cash to play, I get paid for each player that walks in the casino). They are often referred to being the ‘scum’ of the industry. As affiliates, we need to have the informed conversation, describing an affiliate as someone that receives a percentage of revenue or a flat fee for bringing you business. It is at this point that I show them slides of retail affiliates and propose that they have themselves participated in affiliate marketing simply by clicking on banners and links on retail sites. To put things into scale, let’s share this: “The performance-based affiliate marketing model continues to offer top ROI for major brand name retailers. 324 of Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Retail Sites have affiliate programs” (5StarAffiliatePrograms.com). Now, we simply bring it back to gaming, showing them screenshots of online

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gaming affiliates and explain how it all works. It is vital to discuss the reach of affiliates collectively. The truth is, affiliates are a virtually unlimited number of sales and marketing people with access to millions of prospects.

affiliates, that they must ensure statistics are accurate, payments are completed on time, and that they recognise excellence when delivered. This is a two-way street. Each party must be partners. This is a key part to this conversation.

How do you bring value?

What does my compensation look like?

What type of affiliate are you? Do you focus on strategy, news, or discussion forums? Do you feature player promotions or bonuses? Are you a hybrid of these? It is vital to explain exactly what you do and why what you do will benefit an operator. Again, this is all new stuff for a majority of jurisdictions in the US. We have to break it down and show why we are an asset.

How do we work together? Explaining why affiliates are a major benefit to marketing an online gaming operation is part of the battle. Now that we have discussed what an affiliate really is and how we add value to their operation, the next part is how we actually work with an operator. Most gaming executives in the US really don’t know this part, as they are currently still processing or being exposed to everything we have discussed so far. We need to explain that a good affiliate will provide accurate information, keep promotions up to date, allocate appropriate real estate, keep accurate records and reallocate efforts based on results, and add value to our members. We also need to spell out that the operator’s role is to provide the necessary creative and tools for

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iGB Affiliate AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2013

Here is where we find the biggest gap between the US market and almost the entire rest of the world. We explain different models of compensation, such as rev share, CPA, hybrid deals and subaffiliate revenue. Then I break down the industry averages of what online gaming affiliates are currently earning. Then there is either complete and utter silence and dismay, or a cry of outrage. In the US, very few service providers earn any type of rev share. For example, a slot manufacturer whose equipment generates millions of dollars of revenue in a land-based property might get a smaller percentage than the average affiliate outside of the US. The three things you absolutely, positively, unquestioningly need to know and accept about being compensated as an affiliate in the US market are as follows: 1. No matter how big or small your database or traffic, you will never receive anything close to what you are used to making outside of the US. 2. As of the publishing of this article, as soon as the ‘%’ sign appears in any rev share deal in any aspect of gaming in the

US, you are required to have a licence in that jurisdiction. 3. As of the publishing of this article, all affiliates will need to be licensed or registered in some way with the state or Tribal Gaming Commission you plan to do business in.

Summary While this article may depress you or paint a bleak picture, there is hope and a ton of money to be made. We’ll discuss that in the next issue. The second instalment of this article will cover everything you want to know about licensing and what you can do now to generate revenue ahead of licensing and regulatory adoption. In the meantime, if you would like a copy of the presentation on affiliate marketing that I give here in the US, feel free to email me.

Jason “Wolf” Rosenberg is CEO of American iGaming Solutions, LLC. Jason has more than 11 years of online gaming industry experience and has provided expertise and strategic solutions to over 50 online gaming operations with a focus on player and affiliate acquisition, conversion and retention programs. Based in Las Vegas, his focus is now educating, consulting, marketing, and management for licensed US regulators, operators, and their service providers. Jason can be contacted at Wolf@AmericaniGamingSolutions.com


EiG Totally Gaming

Dissect the anatomy of iGaming

New format, new features, new delivery 8th-10th October • Barcelona, Spain

Download the brochure to find out more at eigexpo.com EiG 2013 A4.indd 1

18/06/2013 13:44


webmaster world

Social Gaming

A New Affiliate Journey Gaming or gambling? Freemium or real money? Social or not social? Just sorting out the industry definitions is enough to make many scratch their heads. But, as Theodore Roosevelt once said: “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty...” iGaming affiliates would be wise to heed these words as they adapt to an ever-changing industry landscape; a landscape that now includes mobile and social, as well as a US online gaming market steadily building in momentum. It may require effort, pain and difficulty but adjusting to these elements, particularly social gaming, could open a whole host of new business opportunities for affiliates.

Basic training Technology possesses a lexicon that is forever expanding in response to innovation. Because iGaming is intrinsically linked to technology, it must keep pace by providing a clearly defined language that facilitates the engagement of industry stakeholders. This language can be dense and difficult to digest, however, we also have a tendency of making things more complex than they need to be. This brings us to the sometimes confusing gambling/gaming dynamic. For the purposes of this discussion, rather than listing a multitude of definitions, we prefer to list a single one for gambling: “a combination of chance, consideration and prize”. Social gaming is different as it does not encompass a ‘consideration’ criterion, which in gambling represents a bet or wager that involves a traditional government-supported currency, such as the Euro or Pound. The definition may be a slippery slope but the better affiliates understand such nuances, the better

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iGB Affiliate august/september 2013

they will be able to establish themselves as knowledgeable business partners for operators. Being knowledgeable will also help affiliates to grasp the idea of convergence and what it means to both themselves and their operator partners. So what is the idea behind convergence? In short, it’s the aim of operators to integrate social gaming and online gambling in a way that increases the average revenue per user (ARPU). Sounds simple enough. The thing about convergence is that the idea remains relevant only as long as social gaming continues to attract a healthy quantity of traffic that is open to engagement. Only a certain percentage of that engaged traffic will then be inclined to participate in real money games. The value of affiliate acquisition channels to operators in the European market is so well-known that it hardly needs mentioning. That is, unless this value is considered in the context of driving traffic for social gaming sites, which are typically focused on quantity over quality. The idea of convergence is still in its infancy, which means that there are many questions to be answered about the role affiliates will play moving forward. What we do know is that affiliates should pre-emptively develop a strategy for driving social traffic.

Affiliate influence Part of the reason affiliates have prospered in Europe’s online gaming sector is that

they possess the traits needed to adapt to changing markets. With their collective zeal, doggedness and industry IQ, there is a confidence that affiliates will always find a way to flourish. This business acumen should encourage future success as affiliates look to be influential in social gaming, mobile gaming, the US market and whatever convergence may bring. These emerging trends show that it is far too simplistic to suggest that affiliates exist solely to drive traffic. In truth, they identify trends, points of interest and counsel operators based on their interactions with players. We are now seeing a player journey that begins with signing up for a social casino game where little, if any, money is spent. The hope of operators is that a strategy can be developed that will convert those players into real money acquisitions. There is little evidence to suggest this will be easy but, as mentioned at the start, perhaps it’s not supposed to be. According to a report released by Morgan Stanley late last year, about 800 million people around the world participate in at least one form of social gaming every month. Approximately 20 percent (173 million) of those players engage with casino-style games, a number that far exceeds the estimated 50 million real money players that can be found online. Many hold the opinion that some casino games are lacking a social element and are therefore mislabelled. For the purpose of


webmaster world

this discussion we will include them under the umbrella of ‘social gaming’. What does all this mean for affiliates? 1 There is an abundance of social gaming traffic. 2 Globally, there are millions of potential real-money conversions. 3 Operators are still exploring strategies for bringing about convergence on a grand scale.

– a commitment that also allows them to be effective ambassadors for their partner brands and the industry at large. When suggesting that affiliates engage social media it is important to distinguish between this and player acquisition through Facebook advertising. As a distinct acquisition channel, affiliates should use these resources as part of an overall strategy to generate interest, trust and traffic.

Demonstrate awareness

Mobile fidelity

The affiliate traits mentioned will be key in monitoring the developments of any transition of ‘freemium’ social models to real money gaming. Even social games that maintain their ‘freemium’ status could have a run-in with regulatory bodies if it is decided that they need to limit the accessibility of younger audiences. Similar oversight will also be important when considering things like security checks and wallet functionality. Social gaming is not currently controlled by the same set of guidelines as online gambling, giving affiliates the opportunity to emerge as educators as well as ambassadors. Affiliates that are in-tune with the industry and can provide informed commentary will be seen as valuable beyond their status as an acquisition channel. Through the sharing of knowledge, affiliate audiences can include operators, players and a range of industry stakeholders. To disseminate this information, affiliates would be expected to have an active presence on social media

Mobile and social have become intrinsically linked and it is increasingly rare to hear the term ‘social start-up’ as mobile social startups increase in prominence. It is now a rule of law that social media is accessed more through mobile devices than desktops. This means that cross-over between social gaming and mobile is a reality for which affiliates need to be adequately prepared. Affiliates must drive the conversation about what they need from operators to be more effective. This is already happening, but the affiliate acquisition channel still has room to grow where mobile is concerned. This is a two-way street, however, as affiliates need to make sure their online content is mobilefriendly where necessary and do their part to encourage healthy conversion rates.

Conclusion Growing pains can be agonising and difficult, but they become less so once we realise that growth is made all the more meaningful for enduring that discomfort.

Such pain is derived from the unflappable patience required in the affiliate strategies discussed. Patience means playing the long-game with social by attracting players and building databases in the hope of converting them to real money players. But there are no promises as to what dominant business models will emerge over the next 12 to 24 months and what role the US market will play. The same goes for potential expansions in the regulatory framework. With so much ambiguity, why spend this much time contemplating strategy? There are two big reasons. Firstly, the demonstrable value of an affiliate as an industry expert is perpetual and will always be a worthwhile endeavour. The second is that the price of being underprepared is simply too costly to ignore.

Shelby Landeck is Income Access’ Manager of Client Relations, Software Services. The contact point for all social gaming company relationships, Shelby liaises between the Software and Affiliate Teams to develop solutions based on client needs. Her role currently focuses on developing Income Access’ US partnerships.

iGB Affiliate august/september 2013

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WEBMASTER WORLD

US DATA CENTRE NEW JERSEY

There has been a flurry of news from New Jersey in June and July, as the state’s Department of Gaming Enforcement issued deadlines for Atlantic City’s casinos to announce their interactive partners in order to be ready for the November 26 go-live date. iGB Affiliate explores the partnerships that have been announced to date.

ATLANTIC CITY’S EUROPEAN IGAMING PARTNERS

Resorts Casino

After failing with a bid to block its former acquisition target, Atlantic Club Casino, from seeking out other buyers following the collapse of a proposed $50 million deal, PokerStars announced in early July that it had secured a partnership with Resorts Casino Hotel. PokerStars CEO, Mark Scheinberg said, “We are looking forward to launching PokerStars in the US in association with the other quality brands Resorts has brought to Atlantic City.” Whether Resorts’ offering will initially (or permanently) be pokeronly is up for debate, as PokerStars does not currently own any casino software. However, PokerStars’ parent company, Rational Group, has announced that Full Tilt Poker will undergo a rebrand to become Full Tilt Gaming, introducing a casino element to its wares for the first time. The timing would appear to suggest that Rational intends to provide the casino portion of Resorts’ online offering through Full Tilt Gaming, using PokerStars as the official partner and provider of the online (and, in all likelihood, new landbased) poker room. No details have been officially announced as to how Rational will cater for Resorts’ online casino presence, but we wait with interest to find out.

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Trump Taj Mahal Ultimate Gaming

PokerStars

iGB Affiliate AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2013

Borgata

bwin.party

Similar to their deal in Nevada, Borgata owners Boyd Gaming and MGM Resorts have again partnered with bwin.party to establish their online presence in New Jersey. There are still some issues facing bwin.party which have reportedly impacted its ability to gain a Nevada licence, and could yet pose problems in New Jersey, although the absence of a “Bad Actor” clause in the Garden State’s regulations may allow the company a smoother passage than it has experienced in Nevada. (Before its merger with bwin, PartyGaming and one of its owners reached a settlement with the Department of Justice for $105 million in 2009.)

After becoming the first regulated online poker room to go live in the US through its Nevada licensed Ultimate Poker brand, Ultimate Gaming has now acquired a foothold in the New Jersey market through its partnership with Trump Taj Mahal. The deal is “a huge step forward in our desire to offer Americans across the nation the opportunity to enjoy safe and regulated online games,” according to Ultimate Gaming Chairman Tom Breitling.

Caesars Entertainment

888 Holdings

(incorporating: Caesars Atlantic City, Harrah’s Resort, Bally’s, Showboat)

Tropicana

Gamesys

Gamesys, the first gaming operator to go live with real money gaming on Facebook, has also thrown its hat into the New Jersey ring, securing a deal with the Tropicana. The UK-based gaming company has experience in working with US land-based casinos in the online space, having partnered with Caesars Entertainment to launch caesarscasino.com.

Caesars Entertainment’s four Atlantic City casinos – Caesars, Harrah’s Bally’s and the Showboat – will be powered by 888 Holdings after the two struck a deal that mirrors their partnership in Nevada. Similar to bwin.party, 888 may also find the absence of a “Bad Actor” clause to its advantage having operated in the US until 2006, however, its Nevada licence and being chosen by the Delaware Lottery as a primary vendor should all point to a similarly successful application process in New Jersey.


WEBMASTER WORLD

MOST POPULAR GAMBLING WEBSITES RANKED BY VISITS FROM NEW JERSEY IN JULY WEBSITES

SEGMENTED VISITS

Lottery Post

13.51%

7.86%

New Jersey Lottery

12.75%

85.64%

PCHLotto

5.35%

2.49%

NY Lottery

5.33%

4.07%

Harrah’s Casino Hotels

3.30%

7.20%

PCHSlots

3.24%

2.86%

Lottery USA

3.20%

7.16%

PCH Instant Bingo

3.07%

2.72%

King.com

3.00%

3.72%

The Borgata

2.88%

50.98%

NEW JERSEY POPULATION

8.86

SEGMENTED RATE

MILLION

Source: Hitwise US

CASINOS WITHOUT PARTNERS

Trump Plaza Golden Nugget Bally Technologies Golden Nugget and Bally Technologies are another pair of companies to be repeating their Nevada partnerships in New Jersey. Bally Technologies has an existing suppliers’ licence in the state to offer slot machines to land-based casinos and the pair already have a free-toplay agreement.

Betfair

Atlantic City’s other Trump resort, the Trump Plaza, signed a deal with UK betting exchange Betfair to enter the real money iGaming market. We understand that Betfair is intending to use Amaya for its poker offering and GameAccount for casino rather than software from Playtech, of which it is a licensee.

ATLANTIC CITY CASINO REVENUE FIGURES

Atlantic Club Casino has yet to announce its partner to enter the online market, now that it is free to enter negotiations following its court case with former suitor, PokerStars. Hard-hit casino, Revel, is the only other casino in Atlantic City not to have announced its progress in finding an interactive partner. UKregistered, Curacao-licensed online gambling operator, 2UP Gaming PLC, is rumoured to be looking to break into New Jersey‘s online gambling market by either acquiring or building a casino in Atlantic City in tandem with an Asian investment group which has reportedly pledged £330 million to the project.

(year-to-date ending June 30, 2013)

ATLANTIC CLUB

$69.6m

BALLY’S

$122.3m RESORTS

BORGATA

CAESARS GOLDEN NUGGET

$295.8m $159m $59.9M

HARRAH’S

REVEL

$174.4m $60.9M

TRUMP PLAZA

$36.8M

TRUMP TAJ MAHAL

$129.2m

$57.7M

TOTAL

SHOWBOAT

$95.4m

TROPICANA

$117m

$1.38

BILLION

Information courtesy of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas from its “Atlantic City Casinos, June Summary” authored by Dr David G Schwartz. All figures are based on total win (combined table and slots win) for each casino for the year 2013 to date.

iGB Affiliate AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2013

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MARKETPLACE

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Welcome to the MarketPlace listings section of iGB Affiliate magazine. All listings are taken from the 2013 version of our iGB Affiliate Directory; a 150 page guide to the affiliate programs and service providers who are currently active within the iGaming sector. To request a free copy of this publication or to have your company listed please contact Ed Grundy on Ed@iGamingBusiness.com or call +44 (0) 207 954 352. ADVERTISING, MARKETING & PR

CASINO AFFILIATE PROGRAMS

Isle of Man Post Office

777Affiliates

www.gov.im/post

www.777affiliates.com

Lyceum Media

888

www.lyceummedia.com

www.888.com

Olympian

24Play.com

www.olympiangaming.com

www.e-play24.com

AFFILIATE NETWORK

32Red Affiliates

Income Access

www.32redaffiliates.com

www.incomeaccess.com

7Red

Betsson

www.7red.com

www.betsson.com

Aff Europe

TradeTracker

www.affeurope.com

www.tradetracker.com

Affiliates Star Venus

BINGO AFFILIATE PROGRAMS

www.affiliatesstarvenus.com

770.com

Affiliates United

www.livepartners.com

www.affutd.com

888

All You Bet

www.888.com

www.allyoubet.ag/affiliates

Affiliates United

Dafabet Casino

www.affutd.com

www.dafabet.com/casino

Bet365

Best Pay Partners

www.bet365.com BingoCams www.bingocamspartners.com Ladbrokes www.ladbrokes.com Luckyjar Affiliates www.luckyjar.com

Officially sponsored by

bet365affiliates.com www.gambleaware.co.uk

Come On www.comeon.com Commission365 www.commission365.com EnergyCasino.com www.energycasinopartners.com Europartners www.europartners.com Grande Vegas Casino www.grandevegasaffiliates.com iGamefriends.com www.igamefriends.com Intertops www.intertops.eu Jackpot Capital www.jackpotcapital.eu Ladbrokes www.ladbrokes.com Liberty Slots www.slotsvendor.com Llama Gaming www.llamagaming.com Mansion (i-Affiliates) www.iaffiliates.com Mojo

www.bestpaypartners.com

www.mojoaffiliates.com

Bet365

Mr Green

www.bet365.com

www.mrgreen.com

BetEnergy

Mybet

betenergy.com

www.mybet.com

Betfair

Nordic Gaming

www.betfair.com

www.nordicbet.com

Paddy Power

BetVictor Casino

Paddy Power

www.paddypower.com

www.victorsaffiliates.com

www.paddypower.com

PAF

Brightshare

PAF

www.paf.com

www.brightshare.com

www.paf.com

StarGames

Casumo

Referback

www.stargames.com

www.casumoaffiliates.com

www.referback.com

TradeTracker

Cherry

Rich Club Affiliates

www.tradetracker.com

www.cherryaffiliates.com

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bet365affiliates.com iGB Affiliate AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2013

www.gambleaware.co.uk


MARKETPLACE

Roller Casino

DafaPoker

Affiliates United

www.rollercasino.com

www.dafabet.com/poker

www.affutd.com

Slotastic!

Intertops

All You Bet

www.slotastic.com

www.intertops.eu

www.allyoubet.org

Llama Gaming

Bet3000

Slotland www.slotlandaffiliates.com SpringBok Casino www.springbokcasino.co.za Stan James www.stanjames.com Star Games www.stargamesaffiliate.com Trade Tracker www.tradetracker.com

www.llamagaming.com Mybet www.mybet.com Nordic Gaming www.nordicbet.com Paddy Power

www.bet3000.com Bet365 www.bet365.com Coral www.coral.co.uk

www.paddypower.com

Dafa Sportsbook

PAF

www.dafabet.com/sports

www.paf.com

IAS Bet

PKR

www.iasbetaffiliates.com

FINANCIAL SERVICES

www.pkr.com

Intertops

24 Option

Stan James

www.24option.com

www.stanjames.com

Aff Europe

Star Games

www.affeurope.com

www.stargames.com

Neto Partners

Trade Tracker

Llama Gaming

www.netopartners.com

www.tradetracker.com

www.llamagaming.com

Winamax

Luxbet

www.winamax.fr

www.luxbet.com

Exbino www.exbino.com Trade Tracker www.tradetracker.com LOTTERY AFFILIATE PROGRAMS

SKILL GAMING AFFILIATE PROGRAMS Affiliates United www.affutd.com

www.intertops.eu Ladbrokes www.ladbrokes.com

Merdian Bet www.meridianbet.com

Bet365

Mybet

Player’s Lottery

www.bet365.com

www.mybet.com

www.theplayerslottery.com

Betfair

Nordic Gaming

PAYMENT SOLUTIONS

www.betfair.com

Intercash

BetVictor Sports

intercash.com

www.victorsaffiliates.com

Neteller

iGame.com

www.neteller.com

www.igame.com

POKER AFFILIATE PROGRAMS

PAF

www.perhead.com

888 Poker

www.paf.com

Sportingbet

www.888.com

Star Games

www.sportingbet.com

Affiliates United www.affutd.com Bet365

www.stargames.com Trade Tracker www.tradetracker.com

www.nordicbet.com Paddy Power www.paddypower.com PerHead

Stan James www.stanjames.com Topbetta

www.bet365.com

SPORTSBETTING AFFILIATE PROGRAMS

Buzz

888

TradeTracker

www.buzzsports.com

www.888.com

www.tradetracker.com

www.topbetta.com

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bet365affiliates.com www.gambleaware.co.uk

iGB Affiliate AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2013

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webmaster world

Seven Reasons

You’re Not Converting Converting leads to players is one of the main tasks of every affiliate marketer. The only thing that’s more important is driving traffic, writes CasinoAffiliatePrograms.com Editor, Michaela McNamara. As it turns out, there are many reasons why affiliates struggle to convert their visitors and convince them to take advantage of various affiliate offers. Here, we try to answer why.

1. Bad traffic As we’ve mentioned, traffic is the most important success factor for affiliates. However, not all kinds of traffic will turn out to be profitable especially if you have to invest money to get this traffic. Try experimenting with different sources of traffic, different types of keywords and different methods of promotion. While doing so, gather every piece of data you can to better identify the kind of traffic that converts best.

3. Old-fashioned design As much as some gurus want you to believe that design doesn’t matter that much, it does; at least in 2013. Quite simply, if your site uses a standard, off-the-shelf design that looks outdated compared to the new stuff being released by major theme stores like StudioPress or ThemeFuse, then you won’t be able to portray yourself as a serious business.

4. No clear calls-to-action The call-to-action is the conversion point of your sales/promotion page. If it’s not visible enough, no-one will click it. Period. The absolute simplest way of making sure that it stands out is to use a completely exclusive colour for buttons and affiliate links.

“Depending on your niche, building trust might be a difficult task when branding your website. In short, the problem is that people won’t buy anything from you if they don’t see you as a trustworthy source.” 2. Bad product Not all products are created equal; it’s as simple as that. When picking products to promote, it’s good to do the same kind of research you’d do when searching for a product to buy. For example, look for reviews, read opinions on forums, check out the support platform, compare the product against its competitors, and so on. In short, the size of affiliate commission is not the only important factor when picking the products.

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iGB Affiliate august/september 2013

This is something you can achieve by getting a plug-in like Shortcodes Ultimate. Among other features, it allows you to create great looking buttons with a simple shortcode.

5. No trust Depending on your niche, building trust might be a difficult task when branding your website, especially if you’re in the weight loss, money making or relationship niches. In short, the problem is that people

won’t buy anything from you if they don’t see you as a trustworthy source. To change this, start by guest posting on respected sites and then using the logos of these sites inside your ‘as seen on’ block. Honest and simple.

6. Poor copy There’s a reason why good copy costs $1 per word. Essentially, convincing someone to convert is like playing a mind game. And if you want to win, you have to be willing to either invest or learn the art of copywriting yourself. When it comes to education, Copyblogger is a good resource to start with.

7. Overly complicated conversion process Simply speaking, every click counts. For example, if your visitors have to go through six different pages before they even get a chance to convert, in most cases, they won’t do it. Here are some of the common mistakes: ●●Forcing people to sign up for an account on your site ●●Forced email newsletter subscription ●●Additional advertisement in the middle of the conversion funnel ●●Overly complicated affiliate link tracking sequence ●●Transitional page between the link and the conversion page Finally, we have one bonus tip:

8. Track, track, track, improve and then track some more.


3-6 October 2013 From conference content, to sheer numbers through the door, to venue choice, everything adds up to a terrific format that is invaluable to our business model and puts iGB events head and shoulders above any other gaming event on the calendar. – Director, GameOn

www.barcelonaaffiliateconference.com


WHY YOU SHOULD ATTEND THE BARCELONA AFFILIATE CONFERENCE • Affiliates come free - giving you maximum ROI • Affiliate Managers - meet over a thousand gambling affiliates • Gain access to your peers, competitors and business partners - meet over 1,800 industry delegates • Networking opportunities in the expo hall with over 100 exhibitors and affiliate programs • 2 conference streams with over 20 conference sessions, with insights from industry experts • iGB Espana is incorporated into BAC - there is an entire track on Friday dedicated to the Spanish market, which will be delivered in Spanish • A full day of SEO covering PPC, link building, the latest on Penguin and much more • Free wifi and lunch on both days of the event • Attend 4 networking fiestas to ensure that you make those conference connections count. They will be full of fun, sun and sangria!

SPEAKER HIGHLIGHTS FOR THE BARCELONA AFFILIATE CONFERENCE The conference content is specifically designed for the needs of affiliates in the gaming sector and will include some of the biggest speakers in the market ensuring the sessions are targeted for your current business needs and objectives. Here is a selection of speakers at the Barcelona Affiliate Conference:

Nick Garner

Ralph Tegtmeier

Paul Reilly

Director & Head of SEO Bronco Ltd

CEO SearchWorks

aka fantomaster Co-founder and principal fantomaster.com, GmbH

SEO Consultant, MediaSkunkWorks

Mario Benito Campo

Julia Logan

David Fernandez

Jaki Becker

Head of Casino Poker & Affiliates

Gambling Consultant for UK Spain and Latam

Dave Naylor

Director España & Latam NetRefer

a.k.a. IrishWonder SEO consultant irishwonder.com

To register for the Barcelona Affifi FIliate Conference


CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHTS FOR THE BARCELONA AFFILIATE CONFERENCE The Barcelona Affiliate Conference, incorporating iGB Espana, is set to bring you a knowledge packed programme of discussion panels and presentations with insights from the industry’s expert speakers. Please find below some of our conference highlights. Date

Room

Time

Discussion

Friday 4th October

2

10.05

An update on the Spanish legislation

Friday 4th October

1

11.30

Linkbuilding Masterclass. Learn from the best linkbuilders in the industry

Friday 4th October

2

11.30

How does Spanish regulation affect the online and offline membership?

Friday 4th October

1

12.30

Linkbuilding Workshop: Listen to the linkbuilding experts apply their knowledge to real websites

Friday 4th October

1

14.30

How to develop natural SEO through PR

Friday 4th October

1

15.30

iGaming SEO Expert Panel will highlight the essential tools to increase your SEO rankings

Friday 4th October

1

16.30

Cloaking 3.0: Dominating the search engines more than ever

Saturday 5th October

1

12.00

Content Forever: How to create or get hold of unlimited quality content at firesale pricing

Saturday 5th October

1

15.00

Meet the black hats

To view the full schedule please visit www.BarcelonaAffiliateConference.com

WHO ATTENDS THE BARCELONA AFFILIATE CONFERENCE? Simply the leading industry brands and affiliates including: 138SunGame.com 188BET 888 AffiliateClub AffiliateEdge.com Affiliate Lounge Affiliate Media Banc-De-Binary Barcrest bet365 BETDAQ Betfair Betfred Betsson BetVictor Betway Bingocams BingoPort.co.uk BingoCams Boylesports Bwinparty Coral Interactive Casino Affiliate Programs Casino City Calvin Ayre Everest Casino EveryMatrix Europartners Fortune Affiliates Full Tilt Poker Gala Interactive Gambling Compliance GameOn Marketing GPWA Intercash InterPartners InterTrader iSoftBet Ladbrokes Mansion Affiliates Paddy Power Pinnacle Sports PKR PokerStars PokerStrategy. com PokerAffiliateListings.com Rank Interactive Referback Skrill Sportingbet Unibet Winner. com Affiliates United mBetBrain.com easyodds.com Roxy Affiliates SlotsFreeBonus. com OLBG.com OddsPicker.co.uk LatestCasinoBonus.com TheGamblingPortals.com BettingExpert.com RakeTheRake.com FlashScore.com

visit www.barcelonaAffIfiliateconference.com


How to book Affiliates attend the event FREE OF CHARGE. Non-Affiliates can book a place at BAC for £499+VAT. You can book online here: www.BarcelonaAffiliateConference.com It’s fast, easy and you’ll get confirmation within minutes.

HOTEL AND VENUE We have negotiated preferential rates for all delegates at fantastic hotels only minutes away from the Fira de Barcelona. Rooms go quickly and we are often fully booked within weeks of launching the event. So don’t miss out! Be at the heart of the action and book today www.iGBAffiliateHotels.com

exhibition fl FLoor plan FOOD AREA

J24

E33

E32

E31

E30

MEETING ROOM 8 H28

H27

H25

H26

G16

E29

E28

E26

E27

C28

J21

J21

J20

J19

J17

F18

E19

H20

K3

D14

E18

K5

J14

J13

J11

J12

K1

B25

B26

F22

E14

G14 ENTRANCE

D9 D7

J9

G15 G10

B21

B22

MEETING ROOM 7

C20

B20

A6

A5

A4

C18

C19

B19

A1

A2

A3

C14

C16

C13

C15

D8

E10

VIP LOUNGE

C12

B14

B16

B18

C9

C11

B13

B15

B17

H7

H8

C5

C8

B7

C4

C7

B6

B10

C3

C6

B5

B8

MEETING ROOM 3

G11 G12

H6

H5

G7

H3

H4

G4

D6

D5

E6 D3 E4

D4

MEETING ROOM 5 MEETING ROOM 4

CAFETERIA

FOOD AREA

MEETING ROOM 6

E16

H12

H10

B23

D13

E17

H9

B24

D20

K2 J10

C30

E20

F5 J16

B27

C22 G16

J18

J15

B28

D20

E22

K6

K5

C31

CONFERENCE ROOM 1

F10

K7

BAR

D18

CONFERENCE ROOM 2

MEETING ROOM 2 MEETING ROOM 1

B9

MEETING ROOM 9 J2

J2

G3

G1

F4

F2

F1

E2

E1

D2

D1

C2

C1

B4

B3

B2

B1

WOULD YOU LIKE TO SPONSOR OR EXHIBIT AT THE barcelona afffiiliate conference? If you would to like know more about our exhibition or sponsorship opportunities, please contact: • Ed Grundy on Ed@iGamingBusiness.com | +44 (0) 20 7954 3527 • James King on James.King@iGamingBusiness.com | +44 (0) 20 7954 3437 or • James Harrison on James.Harrison@iGamingBusiness.com | +44 (0) 20 7954 3438

*All Affiliates will be vetted in order to gain free entry. Also called publishers or webmasters, an affiliate is a person that refers traffic (in this case players) to an operator website such as pokerlistings.com would refer a player to interpoker.com - The affiliate is then paid a revenue share or CPA (cost per acquisition) for each of the players they send.


WEBMASTER WORLD

MARKETING PERFORMANCE EVALUATION AND MEASUREMENT

FIVE COMMON MISTAKES Marketing is the crucial element for any affiliate business. Let’s face it, without marketing, we wouldn’t be able to make any money. Unfortunately, not all of the popular performance measurement models are that important in the long-run. SIMPLY, WITHOUT MARKETING no-one would ever come to our website just by entering our URL randomly in their browser’s address bar. That’s why all sorts of performance measurement models have sprouted up to ‘help’ us in our everyday work. The unfortunate thing, however, is that not all of them are that important in the long-run.

1. Not defining goals correctly Every marketing campaign should have a precise goal. Without it, you won’t be able to know whether the campaign is a success or not. This does sound basic, but there really are too many people trying out, for example, AdWords without setting any sort of expectations. So, they only end up with some data, some sales, some clicks, some click through rate, but no conclusions. The main rule is this: if you don’t set specific goals, you have no way of doing any budget performance measures.

2. Viral doesn’t always mean money If you’re working with marketing agencies, then they may try convincing you that ‘going viral’ is all that matters in today’s marketing. Even though getting massively popular in a short period of time is always good for publicity, it doesn’t always translate into money. Rather than focusing on the number of eyeballs looking at your site/offering, focus on conversion rates.

For example, if a million people saw your offer, but still only ten took any real action, then the campaign was still a failure.

3. Neglecting a customer’s lifetime value Sometimes, depending on how you’ve constructed your marketing funnel, you can actually afford to spend a lot of money (marketing-wise) to acquire a customer because you know what their lifetime value is. This, however, is often neglected during the initial analysis phase in various marketing campaigns. Those who realise this are often ready to pay even $5 on a single AdWords click without complaining that it’s expensive.

4. Not knowing what statistical significance is Not all marketing tests are created equal. For example, even when doing simple split testing, we can easily be tricked by seemingly interesting results: if test page number one got 100 clicks and three conversions, and test page two got 98 clicks and two conversions, which is the better page? Are those results even significant and taken seriously? Learning about statistical significance can solve this problem immediately.

5. Treating every website equally If you run more than one affiliate site then you’ll naturally compare their results

against each other. The thing is, however, that if the sites are in different niches, there’s virtually no way of comparing them. For instance, the fact that site number one manages to reach five percent conversion rates while the other makes only 0.5 percent doesn’t necessarily make site number two a less successful project. In other words, scraping a seemingly poorly performing site isn’t always the right thing to do. In the end, if you want to be successful, you have to invest in longterm performance tracking instead of introducing ‘improvements’ every week.

MICHAELA MCNAMARA is Editor at CasinoAffiliatePrograms.com (CAP), the world’s largest online gaming affiliate marketing community, and the Internet’s primary location for online gaming brands and affiliate marketers to come together and do business. CAP is owned by Affiliate Media, Inc, an independent online publishing company focused solely on affiliate marketing. Our experts gather, create, and publish information about affiliate marketing and share it with the larger worldwide community to help affiliates better promote leading Internet brands world-wide (and profit by doing so).

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