INFORMATION, INSIGHT AND ANALYSIS FOR THE BUSINESS OF INTERACTIVE GAMING
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Meet us at iGaming Super Show, May 24-26, Dublin. Stand A20!
CONTENTS 04 Events Calendar 06 Webmaster News 10 SEO WARS: Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt 13 Building Algorithmic Immune Architecture 16 Greenlight Gaming Sector Report 18 Creating Content that People Link to
I hope you like our cover. When you have the opportunity to go for a retro-chic Star Wars cover you have to take the lightsaber and run with it. But besides the official SEO Wars article, we have a gaggle of other great SEO pieces covering everything from building your site structure with SEO in mind to the recent Farmer/Panda update. Once you get your tech fix, you’ll want to check out our interview with Scott Klososky and you shouldn’t miss our follow-up story on New Jersey – could they still win the race to regulate? Read it and see what the insiders think.
20 Content Tips for Affiliates 24 Power to the People: New Jersey, Senator Lesniak and US iGaming 28 Interview: Scott Klososky, on Corporate Social Media 30 Leveraging Social Media in Affiliate Marketing 32 Affiliate Networks or Operator-Direct? 34 Poker Supplement 40 Capital Gains: iGB Affiliate Award Winners Celebrated 45 Romania and the Affiliate Opportunity 46 Understanding the Online Decision Process 48 Maximising Video Content 50 Column: Zipping up my Boots 54 Affiliate Landing Pages that Convert 56 Google Panda/Farmer 58 Extra Terrestrial Marketing 60 Show me the Metrics 62 Bridging the Affiliate Generation Gap
I am now off to get ready for the iGaming Super Show in Dublin – see you all there.
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published by iGaming Business Limited of 33-41Dallington Street, correspondents are their own. Editorial opinions expressed in this The Publisher does not accept responsibility for advertising content. Cover image: istockphoto.com ISSN: 2041-6954
iGB Affiliate APRIL/MAY 2011
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.
The A4U Awards
iGaming Super Show
Grosvenor House Hotel, London
RDS, Dublin, Ireland
May 17, 2011
May 24 – 27, 2011
The fourth annual a4uAwards will be held at the prestigious Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane on May 17, 2011. The ceremony has grown to become one of the most glamorous nights in the affiliate marketing calendar and provides unrivalled exposure and networking opportunities with the crème of the affiliate marketing industry.
The second annual instalment of the iGaming Super Show brings the affiliate and B2B industries together in Dublin for what is touted to be the must-attend event in the online gaming calendar. This year’s show combines both affiliate and B2B expos in one space with many of the sector’s leading operators and programs already booked into Dublin’s RDS venue. The two-day conference schedule will provide delegates with a unique insight into the inner workings of the affiliate marketing and B2B space, with two dedicated rooms exploring both themes individually.
May 17 – 19, 2011
June 7 – 8, 2011
GiGSE is back after a two-year hiatus, and the 2011 incarnation is set to be one of its finest with a host of top-level panellists and speakers including Congressman John Campbell and a host of North American regulators and gaming operators. The event has been running since 1998 and this year’s schedule will help to provide delegates with an acute understanding of the North American landscape.
The a4uexpo is a one-off Europe’s largest Performance Marketing Conference with over 1,000 delegates, 36 conference sessions an all-inclusive middle evening party, a pre and post-event networking bash and a buzzing expo hall all being shared by the leading entrepreneurs and players within the dynamic £10 billion Affiliate and Performance Marketing industry. www.a4uexpo.com
iGB Affiliate april/may 2011
Governor’s Veto Hands Power to the People After all of the lobbying and commentary and reports into the fiscal benefits a regulated iGaming framework would have for New Jersey, the state’s Governor, Chris Christie, surprised everyone by vetoing the Intra-state Internet Gambling bill and suggesting it be included on November’s ballet for referendum. Atlantic City casinos will have to now wait until then to see if the voters of NJ will allow them to offer Internet gaming to New Jersey state residents. On a day when many expected a ‘conditional veto’ to pave the way for a fast-tracked passage of a revised bill in cooperation with the Governor, the industry was instead left contemplating the reality
that the fate of any regulated iGaming in the state now lay in the hands of the New Jersey people. This referendum has divided industry opinion as to how this will impact the bill’s chances of passing. Indeed, some believe that the state has now sacrificed the allimportant first-mover-advantage with Iowa and Nevada both making noises around state regulation for poker, the former having an initial bill passed by nine votes to six. Before the NJ bill will be viable for referendum it will have to be re-introduced to the Senate and House to go through the same approval process that got the bill on the Governor’s desk in the first place. However, bill sponsor, Senator Raymond J
Lesniak, sees light at the end of the tunnel and emphasised the need for haste in reintroducing the bill. “We need to work as quickly as possible to bring this bill back to the Governor’s desk, and position Atlantic City to become the Silicon Valley of the high-tech gaming sector,” he explained. “New Jersey can still become the first state in the nation to offer legalized Internet wagering, and by leading the way, we position the Garden State to reap the benefits of getting in on the ground floor of a multi-million dollar market.” You can read more in our feature on New Jersey and exclusive interview with Senator Lesniak on pages 24 to 27 of this issue.
Lottotron Defeated in US Patent Case Analysts in the gaming industry have claimed that the sector has scored a crucial victory in the US as a patent infringement case, brought by Lottotron against Interactive Systems Inc. NV, was defeated in a New Jersey court. On March 16, in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey (Case No. 09-4942), Interactive Systems Inc. NV, the licensed operator of www. sportsbetting.com, soundly defeated the patent infringement case brought by Lottotron, the owner of United States Patent Number 5,921,865 (the ‘865 patent’ entitled ‘Computerized Lottery Wagering System’) which claims a method by which an
individual enrols remotely with the system by setting up an account, establishes a credit balance, selects a lottery (or such like) game to play, and finally, places a lottery wager for the selected game using the balance. The stated purpose of the system is to permit an individual to place a wager remotely without having to physically go to a lottery agent to place a wager. However, in a series of lawsuits targeting the online gaming industry, Lottotron has been asserting that its lottery ticket ordering patent covered any remote gaming system offering games of chance. The sportsbook was represented by Bill Gantz of the Chicago office of SNR Denton
US LLP, who has been representing clients in the online gaming industry for over ten years. “Over the years, we have all seen the ‘licenses’ exacted by Lottotron and 1st Tech and Home Gambling Network etc, so I have to say it feels great to put one of these patents down for the industry. I have appeared in the most recent case Lottotron has filed, and I aim to do it again,” said Gantz. Lottotron’s most recent case was filed in 2010 in the New Jersey federal court against 40 online gaming defendants including PartyGaming and Playtech. Gantz intends to replicate the successful strategies used in this case, which kept the defence costs down and victory quotient high.
iGB Affiliate april/may 2011
IOC to Fight Illegal Sportsbetting The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has announced that it is to establish a special task force to coordinate the fight against illegal betting and match-fixing. The revelation was made by Jacques Rogge, President of the IOC, at a recent conference held at the organisation’s headquarters in Lausanne that was attended by sports leaders, politicians and licensed betting operators as well as the Interpol international police agency. “I think that sport is in danger,” said Rogge. “Illegal betting is on the rise and we absolutely have to fight that. We have no issue
with legal betting. Betting on sporting events is as old as sport itself. Reputable betting firms are our allies in this effort and we are pleased that they are represented here today. The legitimate sports gambling industry is built on a foundation of confidence in the integrity of sport. If that confidence is shaken, the entire industry is threatened. “We also fully appreciate the fact that the legal structures governing sportsbetting vary widely from country to country. Some countries prohibit all forms of sportsbetting. Others sponsor national lotteries that help pay for sport programmes and other worthy causes.”
Betfair Unveils Rev Share for Mobile Betfair has announced that it will begin offering third-party developers a five percent share of the revenue generated from their Betfair-integrated mobile products. The recently floated exchange announced the launch was to “stimulate and support innovation in the fast moving mobile betting industry and to increase the amount of high quality mobile applications available to its customers,” according to its official release. Betfair’s Exchange platform has been open to third-party developers since 2005, but this represents the first time a revenue share deal has been introduced. The company’s Sports API (Application Programming Interface) has led to over 100 third-party products being built and used by several hundred thousand Betfair customers over the past five years.
Betfair’s Head of Platform Strategy, Tom Johnson, said: “Betfair is excited about the future potential and growth we’ve already seen in mobile betting and we’re keen to work with our developer community to build more high-quality mobile products for our three million customers to use. “The combination of the open nature of our Sports Exchange and the strong existing relationships we have with our developers has ensured that Betfair supplies products that not only push the boundaries of quality and innovation but ultimately provide our customers with the betting experience that they want. We’re confident that this new revenue share deal will further improve our product offering, our partnerships with our developer community and the experience of our customers.”
Paddy Finances Power into 2011 Paddy Power has released its financial results for 2010 showing a 56 percent year-on-year increase in operating profits to €103.8 million helped substantially by the firm’s iGaming activities. The company revealed that its profits before tax for 2010 rose 55 percent yearon-year to €104.2 million while its net cash position improved from €75 million at the end of 2009 to €159 million as of December 31. Gross win for 2010 improved by 50 percent year-on-year to €443.5 million with its amounts staked growing 39 percent when compared to 2009 to hit €3.834 billion. The operator also revealed that 72 percent of its total operating profits came from online activities while its PaddyPower.
Dutch Government Proposes Relaxation of Gaming Laws The new coalition government in the Netherlands has revealed plans to regulate online gambling in the country including the implementation of a new licensing system. The move is in sharp contrast to the policy of the previous Dutch administration which was dead against any liberalisation of online gambling. Betfair and Ladbrokes both challenged Dutch gaming laws last year but their attempts were thwarted by a ruling in the European Court of Justice. Jaap Oosterveer, a spokesman for the Dutch ministry of public safety and justice told Reuters, “It is a big shift (in policy), but this is a new government with a more liberal approach.” Fredrik Teeven, state secretary of security and justice, wrote a letter to the Dutch parliament on Saturday outlining the reasons behind the new policy stating that hundreds of thousands of Dutch players were regularly flouting the current laws and that the new proposals would bring the Netherlands into line with other European countries that already offer regulated online gaming. He added that the Dutch authorities should be offering licences for online games such as poker, bingo and sportsbetting and that players should have an appropriate and attractive range of gambling options. The auction of Internet gaming and lottery licences is expected to generate around €10 million for the Dutch exchequer starting from next year.
com domain reported a 52 percent yearon-year rise in gross win to €163.7 million with an operating profit up 26 percent when compared to 2009 to €57.5 million. In addition, mobile turnover was up more than three-fold compared to 2009 to €112 million, which equates to eleven percent of its total sportsbook stakes, while 31 percent of online sportsbook customers now place their bets using a mobile device to generate 19 percent of its stakes. “These are record results for Paddy Power with increased profits in all divisions,” said Paddy Power CEO, Patrick Kennedy. “They demonstrate the benefit of our ongoing business development initiatives and investment, which position the group well for further growth in 2011 and beyond.”
iGB Affiliate april/may 2011
Norway May Block Gaming ISPs The Norwegian government is considering measures that would block the ISP addresses of companies that offer Internet gambling following the publication of a survey that allegedly revealed previous actions to curb the activity had failed. According to a report from Dagbladet newspaper, the survey conducted by the state-run Norsk Tipping gambling monopoly found that previous measures taken by the Norwegian government to curb online gambling have been unsuccessful with more citizens than ever, some four percent, now depositing money with foreign sites. The newspaper suggested that Culture Minister, Anniken Huitfeldt, is considering ISP filtering to block foreign Internet gambling operators while reaffirming government opposition to unregulated online gambling remains as strong as ever. “Such measures have been successfully used in Italy, Estonia and France and the concept has found favour in Denmark.” said Huitfeldt. Apple Launches iPad 2 The much anticipated release of the iPad 2 finally arrived in March, with Apple’s Steve Jobs unveiling the new, sleeker generation of the tablet computer at a conference in San Francisco despite officially being on medical leave (Mr Jobs was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2004). The launch comes at a time when Apple’s market share in the tablet computing sector had actually fallen by some 20 percent, according to Strategy Analytics, being challenged by companies such as HP and Samsung, but mainly attributed to Google’s opensource Android system. The iPad has been increasingly targeted by iGaming companies with the likes of Paddy Power and Betfair creating iPad-specific apps. This trend looks set to continue as the prevalence of tablet computers increases, with a forecasted 64 million predicted to be sold internationally by the end of this year (Gartner). Apple’s market share has plummeted from a high of 95 percent in September 2010 to a reported 75 percent by the close of 2010, which equates to a loss of 20 percent in just three months.
PartyGaming Returns to Profitability PartyGaming has released its financial results for 2010 showing a 15 percent rise in total revenue to €357.3 million despite a nine percent year-on-year drop in revenues from virtual poker to €124.8 million. PartyGaming is planning to merge with fellow operator bwin Interactive Entertainment AG later this year and announced that its boost in total revenues was helped by a rise in earnings from its online casino activities from €136.3 million to €151.4 million. In addition, PartyGaming revealed that revenues from sportsbetting for the twelve months rose year-on-year from €13.2 million to €20.8 million while those from
online bingo were up to €51.4 million from €22.8 million in 2009. All of this saw the firm post earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation for the year of €100.2 million, which was a seven percent rise when compared to 2009’s results, alongside a profit of €38.9 million compared to last year’s loss of €18.5 million. “During 2010, the group delivered on a number of its strategic objectives, the most significant of which was the announcement of our transformational merger with Bwin, the world’s largest listed online sportsbetting business,” said Jim Ryan, Chief Executive Officer for PartyGaming.
EU Launches iGaming Green Paper Responding to calls from the European Parliament and its Member States, the European Commission has launched a Green Paper consultation on the current state of online gambling that is set to include expert workshops on specific themes. The European Commission revealed that the primary aim of the new Green Paper consultation is to ‘obtain a facts-based picture of the existing situation in the European Union online gambling market’ while investigating the ‘different national regulatory models’. The body stated that it will accept contributions from industry stakeholders until the end of July before determining ‘the need for and form of any European Union follow-up action in this field’. “With this Green Paper, we have launched an ambitious consultation with
no pre-determined views on its possible follow-up,” said Michel Barnier, European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services. “The online gambling market in the European Union continues to grow rapidly and generates important revenues that are sometimes channelled into good causes. Its expansion must go hand-in-hand with a determination to protect our citizens, especially minors, and to ensure that offers of these types of services within the European Union are sound and well-regulated. “It responds to calls from the European Parliament and the member states for us to address these questions jointly. This consultation is not about liberalisation of the market, it is about ensuring that the market for online gambling services within the European Union is well-regulated for all.”
Paddy Power Hedges Bets on Trading Business London Capital Group Holdings has announced that Paddy Power is set to terminate the ‘white-label’ agreement behind its PaddyPowerTrader.com financial spreadbetting business. The news follows last week’s announcement by Paddy Power that it was reviewing the service, which represents 17 percent of London Capital Group’s active clients. The Group stated that its ‘white-label’ model allows organisations to market and profit from financial spreadbetting services as it provides the trading platform, prices and expertise to give clients ‘access to one of the most robust trading platforms in the industry’.
“As with all ‘white-label’ partners, the underlying client is a client of London Capital Group and London Capital Group pays the ‘white-label’ partner for its client acquisition activities,” read a statement from London Capital Group. “London Capital Group and Paddy Power are now in negotiations to agree a mutually beneficial termination agreement. PaddyPowerTrader.com customers will be invited to transfer to London Capital Group’s CapitalSpreads.com brand at a date to be agreed. As a result of this transfer, London Capital Group will continue to receive revenue from these customers.”
iGB Affiliate april/may 2011
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Fear, uncertainty and doubt I SUPPOSE A LARGE PART of winning in the SEO game is to anticipate new algorithm updates and to ensure your SEO strategy is as future-proof as possible. How can you predict an algorithm update, you may ask? Well, the answer to that question is simply by understanding what makes a quality search engine result and what signals are available to Google to make a judgement. Before we get into what constitutes a quality search result or what signals Google has available at its disposal, I’d like to hammer something home. Yes, the ability to search ‘about 309,000,000 results in 0.08 seconds’ may seem to be magic, but it isn’t; it’s clever and is made possible through massive parallelisation. But it’s not magic.
Often, we give too much credit to what Google can and can’t do to identify and remove spam. For years, Google officially maintained that it didn’t manually intervene with results and that every search result was calculated mathematically. On multiple occasions, I’ve seen circumstantial evidence to suggest this was not the case and now, through Google’s own admission, we know this to be a lie – fact! It begs the question, ‘what else has it been lying about?’ Ultimately, it boils down to common sense; for instance, when Google launched its toolbar in December 2000, you could be sure that it was gathering and storing user behaviour with a view to applying it in the future. The same had to be assumed when Google launched Chrome in September 2008 – it was only in early 2009 that we
really started to notice how the deposit match bonuses in the title and description tag inﬂuenced rankings (presumably this was by combining relative click though data and user behaviour such as time on the site, bounces, etc). When I asked a ‘Googler’ about what data they use, he said that toolbar data (and presumably Chrome data) was very important to Google internally. Naturally, he didn’t go into detail, but his response confirmed that user behaviour data was indeed a big deal and not just the concern of the natural search quality team.
Future prooﬁng Remaining mindful of Google’s technological developments is key to remaining future proof. Always ask
iGB Affiliate april/may 2011
“Yes, the ability to search ‘about 309,000,000 results in 0.08 seconds’ may seem to be magic, but it isn’t; it’s clever and is made possible through massive parallelisation. But it’s not magic.” yourself, “If I were Google, how would I use this data to improve search results or identify spam?” Keep an eye on its patent applications both current and historic, and don’t for a moment think that just because a patent was applied for over 12 months ago, that it means it is currently in use. A great resource for keeping up-to-date with Google patent applications along with very well informed analysis is www.seobythesea. com by Bill Slawski. If you don’t already have this guy in your RSS reader, you should make this your number one priority. Keeping ahead of the game requires an understanding of what has happened in the past and how it impacted the SERPs. When Google rolls out a new filter, it rarely stops there. In all cases, to my knowledge, it spends time adjusting and tweaking the parameters of the filter, and fine tuning which sites it impacts and to what degree. When there is no clear pattern to a shake up or the impact is isolated to just a very small number of queries or you see big brands being pushed upwards, it’s likely to be a purely manual adjustment where human reviews are transposed into white lists and black lists. If you are impacted during a shake-up, don’t make any sudden moves. It may well be that as the algorithm is fine-tuned, you simply pop back into the position you were in before.
Don’t fear the reaper Avoid Google tilt at all costs. Don’t fear Google in so much as you become paralysed to take action – this is Google’s aim. The classic 60 position brand-based penalty was a tool used to create fear, uncertainty and doubt. It acted like a warning shot across the bow and usually impacted a big brand which had been behaving outside of the acceptable norm, or had been taking the piss! Google is smarter these days, but is by no means perfect. Providing you don’t take the piss, you can push any site into an enviable position with good SEO and war chest. A penalty isn’t something to be feared; it can always be fixed. Let’s say you’re a casino and you’ve been penalised. Maybe you came clean and submitted a reconsideration request (not that I would ever recommend such a thing), perhaps
some of your rankings have entirely or partially recovered. Should this stop you from aggressively pushing to regain the revenues you formerly enjoyed? Surely this is a simple commercial decision. The choice is simple. You either play nicely or you earn crazy money! You can’t do both for big money keywords and there are no prizes for being on page two or below. So what are you going to do? You could spend years playing nicely and following Google’s best practice guidelines, but it is likely to be time and money wasted. You’d be better spending that money on PPC or even display advertising.
Modern warfare Firstly, you need to make the decision to fight! Once you have this clear in your mind and you are determined not to let anything get in the way of victory, then you need to allocate budget from your war chest and set out your strategy. Let’s assume you want to take on the big keyword, “Online Casino” in Google.co.uk. This will be a costly battle, but may also be a very lucrative one. It will cost somewhere in between £7,000 to £30,000 per month, depending on a number of factors. The affiliate deals you negotiate and how well those operators convert, retain, crosssell, etc, will determine the commercial feasibility of this battle. The same can be said for when a coalition launches hundreds of milliondollar tomahawk cruise missiles on an oil-rich North African dictatorship; the cost of war must be balanced against the commercial value of victory. In both SEO and warfare alike, getting buy-in for the campaign usually comes down to good old fashioned politics. OK, so this isn’t a platform for geo-political debate or assertion, but I’ve made my point clear. Big SEO battles are expensive, I know this because these are the battles I fight on a daily basis. That said, the rewards are huge: ●● Do not allow yourself to be psyched out
by Google; psychology is used to fill the gaps where the algorithm fails. ●● Don’t take the piss out of Google. It’s crucial that you operate within Google’s acceptable norms and tolerances.
●● Be mindful of Google’s sample points
and data. ●● Keep up-to-date with Google’s patent
applications. ●● Aim to provide a quality experience that
stands up to human scrutiny (you don’t even have to be the best – just good enough will suffice). ●● Don’t be scared of a fight, providing your financial department is prepared to support you. ●● Never, ever, give up. Even if you’ve been penalised before, don’t be paralysed. Keep pushing! And remember... ●● Always seek professional advice before engaging in any SEO! ●● Picking a keyword is picking a fight. ●● Don’t pick a fight unless you’re sure you can win.
“In both SEO and warfare alike, getting buy-in for the campaign usually comes down to good old fashioned politics.”
If you have any specific questions email me directly at email@example.com or follow me on http://twitter. com/paulreilly or stalk me on http://foursquare.com/user/paulreilly Having worked in Search Marketing for over 12 years and having earned multiple awards and honours, Paul Reilly is regarded by as one of the UKs most Influential SEOs, and is the first port of call for almost all iGaming brands. Paul is widely known in the iGaming and SEO industries for his previous work in building the world’s most effective and technologically advanced SEO department. He is the founder of mediaskunkworks. com, a new generation service provider which has built its reputation on innovation and optimised methodologies which dissect the traditional agency model and is currently building a London based, inhouse dream team.
iGB Affiliate april/may 2011
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Think about your site and data architecture first. Anyone who has read my previous articles knows I am a proponent of a balanced approach to SEO. Where many SEOs will focus on a single area (usually link building) or announce with misplaced conviction that ‘content is king’, my approach is a little more like the story of the three little pigs; you better know what you’re building your house out of or Google will come and blow it down. If you look at the recent Farmer/Panda (Farmer – I will still call it this... Panda just doesn’t sit right with me) update that affected so many thin content sites (farms), part of their issue has simply been the fact that these sites are terrible with data architecture. Thin content aside, better architecture could have helped with this serious issue. Despite the architecture of your site forming the foundation of everything else you do, there is precious little information available on what forms good site architecture or, indeed, even why it is so important. Good site architecture is about more than navigation; it’s about ensuring that search engines can crawl your site in such a way that they make the right
associations between pages, and helping users to navigate through your site to get to the conversion point you want.
Organisation The first thing to think about is how your data is going to be stored, organised and, finally, presented on the website. In an ideal world, this should be done before the site is built, and a good developer and database admin will help you to organise your pages in such a way that your site naturally forms silos of information and creates a natural path for the user. However, all too often this is overlooked or, in many cases, the original structure of your site is lost as new sections and pages are added. Before you can make any changes to the architecture of your site you need to really understand how you want the information to be organised. Often, there are a number of possible ways that a user could approach looking for information on your site. Let’s take a bingo comparison site, for example. Some customers may be looking to find sites based on the sign-up bonus offered (or other incentive) so your first
instinct may be to create top level categories based on that, which is fine if that were the only thing people were looking for. But what about the people who are looking for a site based on the level of community interaction, or the highest level of payout? And what about users who want to be able to play a variety of games on one site? Arranging the information on your site in such a way that it allows for all of these scenarios and more, takes a little more thought than targeting a single approach but in doing so, you will create a more robust platform for your site. Creating multiple silos provides a basis for a higher volume of search terms, as well as a more robust conversion platform. Exactly how you chose to architect this will be very dependent on just how many content silos you have and which are most profitable (in the example above, for instance, there may be many more people whose primary concern is the amount of sign up bonus they can get, and then, how active the community is). If you are struggling to determine exactly how your silos work and interact, I suggest
iGB Affiliate april/may 2011
using Post-it notes to move the different pages on your site into groups, allowing you to move them around and determine exactly which pages work best together; this will often make a hierarchy more apparent. It’s also worth asking a few other people to complete this exercise, ensuring that your logic is also easy for your potential customers to understand and navigate. Once you understand how your site architecture should work, it’s important to present this correctly to both users and the search engines. For this, I am going to focus on how to present your architecture for the search engines, because in this instance (contrary to popular wisdom regarding content), if your architecture works well for the search engines, it will likely work very well for users too.
Directory structuring and URL naming While this doesn’t have a huge SEO benefit, there are a lot of advantages to getting your URL and directory structure in a cascading format. It helps to ensure that everyone contributing to your site can see the hierarchical structure that you are using. Having said that, try to ensure that you are not delving into the realms of having a dozen folders in each URL: www.example.com/widgets/greenwidgets/ biggreenwidgets/biggreenwidgetsglowing/ product
engines on the correct journey through your site. As I mentioned earlier, there are many different angles a potential customer could take when assessing your products or services for conversion. Your main navigation should be the start of each of these journeys for them. While the on-page
to your best or most popular offerings. Contextual linking can allow that to happen and demonstrates the high importance of that page not only to the users, but to the search engines as well. You may want users to be able to jump from widgets to widget repair kits, even though they’re
“You want users and search engines to be able to jump straight from your home page to your best or most popular offerings. Contextual linking can allow that to happen and demonstrates the high importance of that page not only to the users, but to the search engines as well.” links may take them directly to specific pages, your main navigation should take them on the start of a journey. Following on from the earlier example of the bingo site, their main navigation might include: ●● Bingo sign-up incentives ●● Bingo communities ●● High payout bingo ●● Bingo and other games From those categories, you can help users further refine what they’re looking for, until you direct them (and the search engines) to the exact page they need.
The above is not a good experience for anyone and is way too deep for the search engines with unnecessary directories that simply look like keyword stuffing. You also want to make sure that when a low level page falls into two or more silos, that you don’t force it into one or the other. In this instance, a product may fall into both sign-up bonuses and communities as silos. Here, you can either have a page within each and use canonical to target the correct version, or you can put all of your pages at this level into a non-silo folder (this method will have an impact on your breadcrumb navigation).
Your breadcrumb navigation is often what ties your silos together; it has huge user benefit in allowing people to easily navigate through the levels of your site, but it also ties the entire silo together for the search engines, allowing you to demonstrate, in a clear and logical way, how all of your content relates and helps you become a ‘subject matter expert’ in their eyes. This is a very simple feature to implement and, quite frankly, should not be optional. The only note here is that if you have a single page that is accessible from a number of different silos, you need to ensure that your breadcrumb navigation is dynamic, to ensure customers are not confused about where they have come from on your site.
Getting your primary navigation to be just the right balance of usability, functionality, aesthetics and SEO, is like trying to cross quicksand; there is no right answer and there is no easy way to ensure it does everything without becoming a laundry list of every page on your site. So, remember to always test – if you are not testing, you are NOT doing your job! You can, however, help to make sure that it takes both your users and the search
This is the final piece of the site architecture puzzle that I will be discussing, and it is probably one of the most important, and the one that can potentially have the biggest impact on your site’s ranking. Contextual linking (linking from within your pages rather than within the navigation) is what allows customers and Google to skip steps on your site. You want users and search engines to be able to jump straight from your home page
in different silos, because those are great purchases to make together. Allowing users and search engines to see all of these other connections strengthens the bonds between all of the areas of your site, ultimately, making the whole entity stronger and better performing.
Joining the dots All of the elements I’ve mentioned combine to create a solid structure for your site that should withstand both changes in the algorithm, and any future expansion of your site (I like to call this ‘Algorithmic Immune’). It’s also important, however, that these elements combine with all of the other elements of your SEO campaign to create a unified approach. A well defined architecture should make it very clear where keyword-rich links should go, and what content should sit where within your site. If you have blue widgets sitting within a silo but then have content about pink widgets and links for red widgets, you will create confusion in the search engines as to what that site section is really about (remember: as smart as they are – they really aren’t. Make it easy for the search engines to figure out what your site is about). Your architecture should be built in such a way that for anyone wanting to link to you, your content and internal links intuitively point to the same place.
Scott Polk, Founder, Scott Polk Consulting. Scott Polk has been doing SEO for Clients for well over a decade. He has worked as a consultant, on the agency side and in-house for some of the most competitive industries on the web including: Auto, News, TV, iGaming, Pharma and Adult. Scott specializes in technical SEO and global strategies.
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Search marketing agency, Greenlight, has provided iGB Affiliate readers with an exclusive snippet from its forthcoming Gaming Sector Report for the month of December. Here, we can determine the visibility of the leading brands in the iGaming space and their share of voice in both natural and paid search. In addition, we also take a look at which brands were busiest in the social media space. Research shows that when people are looking for a gaming website they go to a search engine. More often than not they go to Google, the search engine used for 90 percent of all UK searches. So, when people searched on Google in December, what did they type and who were they most likely to see in their searches and hence click through to? The Greenlight Gaming Sector Report profiles search behaviour in the gaming sector by analysing which gaming brands were the most visible in both natural and paid search results in December (and thus had the greatest share of consideration) when UK-based searchers went to Google to look for gaming sites. The report also assesses which brands interacted well in social media. This sector report is based on search volume data for December 2010.
Total audience size (802,000 searches — December 2010) Approximately how many searches were performed in December 2010 using gaming terms relating to casino, bingo poker and sportsbetting? We have considered every search term and aggregated the number of times each
one was used in October, November and December to give an indication of the number of searches. (Figures 1 and 2) In December 2010, over 802,000 searches were performed for gamingrelated keywords, which accounted for a 49 percent drop in volume, compared to October and November’s figures, when search volume totalled 1.6 million in both months. Interestingly, when referring this data set to Greenlight’s 2010 annual report, we can see a significant and largely uniform drop in search numbers over the wider 12 month period, sliding from just over three million searches in January 2010, to just over 800,000 by December. As we can see from the graph and pie chart (Figures 1 and 2), bingo-related terms were the most searched for in December, with over 281,000 searches in total, which accounted for over a third (35 percent) of all gaming searches. In addition, searches for casino keywords decreased markedly and the sector’s share of the overall gaming market dropped from 23 percent to 14 percent since September.
Integrated search Which websites/advertisers performed well? If we look at the visibility achieved
FIGURE 1: Total number of gaming-related searches
by websites in natural search and the impression share gained by those websites as advertisers in the paid search space, who obtained the greatest share of voice overall? Here we have taken the top websites/ advertisers across both mediums. (Figure 3) In December, not a single gaming brand achieved strong visibility in both natural and paid search. Wikipedia, Ladbrokes, 888.com and CheekyBingo achieved strong visibility in natural search. However, all four lacked visibility in the paid search space as we can see in Figure 3. A vast number of gaming advertisers achieved strong visibility in the paid search space but only at the expense of natural search. (Figure 4) Ladbrokes was the most visible website in integrated search due to its relatively high exposure in natural search, compared to other websites. Since September, its visibility in natural and paid search increased by four percent and five percent respectively and, thus, it replaced 888.com at the top of our league table. Although 888.com saw a two percent rise in natural search, its paid search visibility decreased by seven percent since our last report.
FIGURE 2: Number of searches by type (December 2010)
Bingo Sports betting
n Bingo........................... 281,419.......35% n Poker........................... 227,760.......28% n Sports betting... 177,073............ 22
0 October November December
n Casino....................... 116,267.......14%
iGB Affiliate april/may 2011
FIGURE 3: Which websites/advertisers performed well?
Strong natural search visibility
888Ladies saw a seven percent and eight percent increase in natural and paid search visibility respectively and it moved up from position 25 to seventh in our league table. William Hill’s share of voice across both mediums was constant, compared to September, yet it fell from third place to eighth as other gaming brands attained marginally greater visibility.
Natural search visibility
Strong integrated search visibility
Social media marketing
Strong paid search visibility
Poor integrated search visibility
Paid search visibility
FIGURE 4: Top ten most visible gaming websites No.
FIGURE 5: Which brands interacted most in November 2010? No.
osts per P month
Tweets per month
Which brands interacted most in November? People constantly engage in conversation about brands and products, whether it is at home, at work or socialising with friends. The Internet has changed the role, pace and place of conversations and Facebook and Twitter have become two of the most powerful outlets. These sites have become the perfect medium for consumers and commentators to elevate discussions, amplify views and give brands both positive and negative visibility. To gauge social media interaction with brands, we have monitored the Facebook and Twitter accounts of the top 15 brands in our integrated league table (see page Figure 5) in order to assess how many ‘fans’ and ‘followers’ each has. The table ranks brands based on the cumulative value of their ‘fans’ and ‘followers’, a score which we have termed Social Media Popularity Index (SMPI). It further analyses the ‘proactivity’ of brands by considering the number of ‘posts’ and ‘tweets’ brands produced for consumers to interact with in November. (Figure 5). Full Tilt Poker, due to its global audience, was the most popular brand in social media, with a following of over 97,000 on Facebook alone. Paddy Power was the most interactive brand as it cumulatively produced 765 ‘posts’ and ‘tweets’ in December. Content included latest sports news as well as advertising inplay betting odds to consumers. Ladbrokes had a number of different Twitter accounts promoting separate products, including news, casino and online games. Conversely, 888.com did not have a single Twitter account for gamers to follow. Since our previous sector report, William Hill activated its official Facebook page, accumulating over 1,400 fans two months after its initiation. Bet365 created its Twitter account in December, which currently has 254 followers.
For more information about Greenlight gaming sector reports, pleas contact Krishna Rao at Krishna.Rao@GreenlightSearch. com or telephone 0203 326 6232.
iGB Affiliate april/may 2011
It’s often made to sound so simple; you want to achieve search engine rankings which means that you need links. And how do you get links? With great content, of course.
It’s possibly one of the most used and least understood terms in online marketing: ‘great content’. It wouldn’t be so bad except that it sounds so deceptively simple. So many people go out and start creating content, in some cases, thousands and thousands of pages of it, with the net result of significant cost and hard work amounting to little or no return. So how do you get yourself out of the cycle? How can you define what great content is and start producing it? And, most importantly, how can you get people to read and share it? There are a variety of factors that many believe to be fundamental in devising good content that are, in fact, quite
unnecessary. Good content does not need to be new; yes it has to be unique and written solely for your site, but it doesn’t have to be a new idea, something no one else has written about or a new way of presenting the information. This brings us to why people want to read or share content. Generally, articles that attract a lot of attention do so for one of only a few reasons: ●● Controversy: does the piece go against commonly held wisdom or take a stand against something? ●● Ground breaking: is it the first piece to report on something? ●● Humour: this one is pretty much self explanatory…
●● Helpful: if you help people with
commonly held problems they will reward you for it. ●● Financial: is there a financial benefit from the piece, whether it’s in the form of a prize, discount or tip? That’s not to say that other content types won’t do well, but these main categories are often very successful. Once you understand what great content is to your audience, you can start figuring out how to create it.
Analyse what you already have The best place to start looking for ideas is within your existing content. It’s important to understand what your existing visitors
iGB Affiliate April/may 2011
like to read and share before you start creating new content, as these will be the people who will share what you are going to create in the future. First, take a look at your top content; which pages on your site were most visited within any given timeframe. Remember to assess each piece over a long period, as while some posts may get a lot of initial traffic and interest, making them appear more popular, others will continue to drive traffic and links for months, even years to come, ultimately making them more valuable. Re-read the most visited pages and make notes on each one, answering the following questions: ●● What is the topic of the article? ●● What type of article is it (funny, news, controversial, etc)? ●● What format is it in (is it a video or an infographic)? ●● Does it contain text and media items? ●● How long is it? ●● Who wrote it? ●● What day, date and time was it published? ●● How many comments does it have? ●● Are the comments positive or negative? ●● How is the post formatted? ●● What is compelling about the post title? Look for patterns in the answers; do news items with videos do better than long articles? Is one particular blogger more popular than others? What is it about those pieces of content that makes them popular, and can you re-create that? Next, you need to understand where the traffic for those popular articles is coming from. Look at the referrers for popular articles; were they featured on someone else’s blog driving lots of traffic? Did someone with a high profile tweet about them? Answer these questions and you can start to build a plan to get similarly high volumes of traffic to similar articles. Once you understand what is popular and where the traffic for those items comes from, you can start to put that into a strategy, if a blogger always shares news items, make sure to make a note of it so that you can start building a relationship with them and notify them of future news pieces, or if a particular topic always gets a lot of attention, make sure you’re aware of it. You can then repeat this whole exercise looking at the pieces of content that got the most links rather than visitors. This should leave you with a good idea of which of your existing content is strongest, and a blueprint for repeating that success in the future. Additionally, you should now have a blueprint for the types of site that are likely to refer traffic and link to you. This provides
a great basis for identifying additional sites that you may wish to contact to notify of future articles.
Expanding your remit Once you have a thorough understanding of your existing readership, you need to turn your attention to what a broader audience is looking for. While maximising your existing audience is the quickest way to increase readership and links, ultimately, your aim is to grow. You will, therefore, want to perform a similar analysis on your competitors. While you may not be able to get traffic information, you can certainly see which articles received the most links, giving you a good understanding of your competitors’ popular content. For this, I recommend searching for your generic terms in Google, and restricting the search to blogs and news items, including a custom date range to exclude items posted within the last month. This is to avoid the newer items placed at the top, maximising your chances of being able to see link data. Google will do half the work for you here, because it will list these items in the order that it thinks is most relevant, in most cases, placing those items with the most links at the top. Once you have a list of posts, you can then analyse them as above, adding yet more information to your blueprint.
Generating content ideas and an editorial calendar Once you have a thorough understanding of what ‘great content’ means within your niche, you need to continue to create it in order to attract the ‘eyeballs’ and links you need. Look through the list of articles that you have from your site and those of your competitors; this should start to provide you with a good number of new content opportunities: ●● Could you provide updated information? ●● Are there follow up post opportunities? ●● Can you provide a better explanation or different perspective? ●● Is there a counter argument? ●● Top ten lists (and the like) can be done as a regular feature. Once you have exhausted these possibilities, it’s time to brainstorm new titles. I find it best to plan these for up to three months at a time. Bear in mind that not every piece of content you write needs to be (or should be) an awesome piece attracting lots of links. What you’re aiming for is to include enough great content within your regular offering to allow the readership and link volumes to snowball. Just how often this is depends on how
much content you are able to publish, but I recommend ensuring that around a fifth fall into the ‘great’ category. In order to find the great titles that you’re going to publish over the next three months, you will need to brainstorm around three times more than you need (this isn’t wasted effort – the two-thirds you don’t use as ‘great’ will still be good content ideas that you can use). Once you have this list, start cherry picking the titles that best align with your blueprint, and schedule them into your editorial calendar, clearly marking them as items that you are going to market more aggressively than your other content. If you don’t have an editorial calendar this is a great time to start one and it can be as simple as starting a Google calendar. Having at least the majority of your upcoming content planned out in advance lets you improve both the quality of your content and the effectiveness of it.
Marketing your great content You can’t aggressively push every piece of content you create; your contacts will get very bored of you and you will do yourself more long-term harm than good. Instead, create a brief strategy around pushing your great content, refer back to the people that you identified as being interested in sharing and linking to particular topics or types of content, and make sure you promote each piece of great content to the right people at the right time, without inundating anyone. Build relationships with the people who are pushing similar types of content for your competitors, and see if they will promote similar content from you. The overall effect of pushing this great content to the right people is that people will also become more aware of your other content, not only on your blog or news section, but also throughout your site, resulting in a bigger readership, and more links.
Sarah Carling is Director of Search Services at ObsidianEdge. Sarah has been creating and implementing integrated SEO and PPC strategies for some of the most competitive industries, including finance, travel and gaming for over seven years. She was also an early adopter of social media, and has been speaking on and training businesses in its use for over five years.
iGB Affiliate April/may 2011
Content tips, specifically for online gaming affiliate businesses. When I talk about content, I mean the stuff the humans can see. Let’s be pedantic: titles, words, graphs, images, links; both on your own site and on thirdparty profiles such as social media.
Here’s the thing Your content serves three broad functions, and should be well-balanced towards all three, which are; readers, relevancy and ranking (the ‘new three Rs’). ●● Readers: should find your content useful, possibly interesting and hopefully memorable (enough to make them want to find you again by name). ●● Relevancy: your content is the major relevancy signal, and your chance to show search engine crawlers exactly and explicitly what your site is about. ●● Ranking: elements of your content and they way in which it is marked up will be evaluated by components of the search engine’s ranking algorithms. The eagle-eyed amongst you will have spotted that I have omitted a fourth critical point to good content, which is that it attracts links. That’s a topic for another day.
Here’s the second thing More does not mean better. I can ensure that my content is written and marked up so that non-human visitors understand it is about ‘bingo’ (for example). Now if I make ‘bingo’ every second, fifth or tenth word, that does not make my content more relevant. It makes it drivel. Quite simply, if you keep the new three Rs in mind and follow some of these five tips below, you will have a solid content strategy – which is one of the foundations of good search engine optimisation.
1. Write for humans first You want humans to (ultimately) click your affiliate link, therefore, your content needs to be written with humans as the priority.
2. Don’t keyword-stuff your headings… this is not 2006! Headings should be marked up with <h> (heading) tags, with primary heading being the <h1>, secondary heading <h2> and so on. <h1> Nichola Bingo Review </h1> It shouldn’t be too much of an effort to ensure your keyword occurs in your <h1> as one would naturally tend to headline a piece of content along the crux of the
subject matter. Don’t, however, ‘stuff’ your keyword into your header by front-loading it unnaturally, or repetitively. In my experience, the use of keywords in your heading tags is most useful as a relevancy signal, and is, at best, a very weak ranking signal. You will not stand to gain anything by having more <h2>, <h3> tags than the content naturally requires, or by unnatural repetition of the keyword in every single header.
In short: ●● You should find your keyword will fit
naturally in your <h1>. If not, hire a good writer. ●● If your keyword is at the start of the heading (i.e. front-loaded), then great; though don’t contrive this as there is little to gain. ●● If your content requires additional <h> tags and your keyword naturally fits here, then great.
3. Mark up images correctly If you are using images or tables, you need to ensure that content is also explained to search engines. Images should have both an alt attribute and an image title. Both elements are intended for humans first, however, Google has confirmed that it primarily uses the alt attribute to ascertain what the image is about. This makes good common sense, if we understand the intended difference between the alt attribute and image title. ●● Image title: the label, the overall caption that summarises the image. ●● Alt attribute: the alternative information, which will be displayed should the image fail to load, and will be ‘read’ by assistive technologies. As an example, if I wanted to optimise a profile page about me for ‘UK SEO Consultant’ or similar, and I have a portrait on my profile page, my image title could be ‘Nichola Stott, Director, theMediaFlow’ and the alt attribute could expand ‘Portrait of UK SEO Consultant, and Director of theMediaFlow, Nichola Stott’.
4. USP: what is your Unique Selling Point? Google has made no secret of the fact that it wishes to de-prioritise sites that offer little original content, or little content of additional value to the web. In recent years, changes and tunings to the algorithm have
sought to identify other signals such as ‘brand strength’ and authority (the update commonly known as Vince), or to deprioritise repetitive or wholesale duplicated content (the update commonly known as MayDay). Whilst many may feel this is a targeted dislike and mission to weed out affiliate sites from the SERPS, to focus on motive is counter-productive. Instead, we need to evolve to our sites’ offering so that there is something of original value. Identify what it is about your site that makes it better and different from your competitors. Do you have the most expansive list of games? The most kick-ass, fun community? The most comprehensive comparison features table? Know what your content USP is, and leverage this on-site and off-site in your promotional campaigns and social media messaging.
5. Differentiate All too often, I see cookie cutter affiliate site content that goes like this ‘[brand name] Poker is a leading Poker site that offers an [exciting/fun/vibrant] in-game atmosphere, with an [attractive/pleasing/bold] UI’. Every page, about every game on your site becomes substantially similar; which, due to the very nature of competition in this space, means that every affiliate site becomes a clone of the other. Start again with your site’s USP and filter this message down into your content. Think about how different data points can be presented or what types of multi-media or user-generated content you can add into the mix.
Nichola Stott is director and founder of theMediaFlow, a UK SEO and social media agency, and co-founder and director of SEO PR Training. Nichola has over a decade of experience in online communications, six years of which explicitly in search; working engine-side at Yahoo! as head of UK search partnerships, prior to founding theMediaFlow in 2009. theMediaFlow specialises in competitive sectors including gaming, IT hosting and e-commerce. She writes for a number of leading industry blogs including SearchEngineWatch, State of Search and SEO Chicks.
iGB Affiliate April/may 2011
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One hopes the new tagging element rolled out by Google this week is really not the search giant’s interpretation of social networking and just another attempt to get its users to do some of its heavy lifting. No doubt the popularity of Facebook’s ‘like’ button and the ever present ‘Tweet This’ buttons on most sites’ content pages these days motivated Google, but the limitations of how it is passed around shows the hole in Google’s social networking efforts. +1 is a marketing ploy more than a true social sharing of information. Google has said it may have an impact on the organic rankings but, in reality, it is the push on the advertising side that I think Google is more concerned with. There are videos and blog posts – tens of thousands of them in the blogosphere already – but even Google got in on the act and it is the ones aimed at the business sector that reveal the possible true intent of this launch. Google wants this to be more about promoting businesses and getting people to sign up for Google Profiles and Google Places accounts. You can’t +1 without a Google account. Look at its video aimed at businesses on YouTube; it is titled ‘Google Business’ and can be found at http://adwords. blogspot.com/2011/03/1-button-adwords. html. To Google, this is no ‘social’ element – it means business. The use of it in the organic results is nice – but this method of voting on ads provides insights to advertisers. This is more a push for more granular information for businesses and even a way to start finding people who like your brand.
“We expect that personalised annotations will help users know when your ads and organic search results are relevant to them, increasing the chances that they’ll end up on your site. You don’t have to make adjustments to your advertising strategy based on +1 buttons, and the way we calculate Quality Score isn’t changing (though +1s will be one of many signals we use to calculate organic search ranking). Think of +1 buttons as an enhancement that can help already successful search campaigns perform even better,” Google explains on its AdWords blog.
Plus 1 a
Plus 1 b
So, hey, no doubt there is now a need to add it to the SEO efforts, but the information from how it is interacted with your ads could be more important. Who cares if it does not influence the Quality Score – you will be able to see how many
people like a particular ad. There will be a game soon enough to build the numbers of these ‘recommendations’ as apart from the people in your social circle, Google has said it will list a number for how many people in general click the button. When people see ads, which do you think they will click? One with a couple of ‘+1s’ or the vendor that has hundreds? While this is only available in the US right now and gambling ads are not accepted as of yet, this feature will be rolling out through Europe and Asia where you can advertise and a strategy for using it must be worked out now. So start your engines, test its impact in the organic results and get ready for when it is available to attack in the PPC space.
Frank Watson is CEO of Kangamurra Media and has been involved with the web since it started. For five years, he headed SEM for FXCM, which was once one of the top 25 spenders with AdWords. He’s worked with most of the major analytics companies and pioneered the ability to tie online marketing with offline conversion. He has now started his own marketing agency, Kangamurra Media. This new venture will keep him busy when he’s not editing the Search Engine Watch forums, blogging at a number of authoritative sites, or developing some online community sites. Frank was one of the first 100 AdWords professionals, as well as a Yahoo! and Overture ambassador. He is on the Click Quality Council and has worked to diminish click fraud.
iGB Affiliate april/may 2011
The prospects of a regulated iGaming industry in the US suffered a setback in March as New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie, vetoed the Intra-State Internet Gambling bill that would have allowed Atlantic City casinos to offer online gaming products to New Jersey state residents.
If a regulated iGaming industry is to become a reality in the state of New Jersey, its Governor, Chris Christie, has declared that it will be for the people to decide as he announced a veto on the Intra-State Internet Gambling bill. Governor Christie returned the bill without his approval, explaining, “While I support the intentions of the Legislature to make New Jersey a more competitive gaming jurisdiction, I am concerned that nothing in the legislation would prohibit commercial establishments outside of Atlantic City, such as nightclubs, cafes and bars from offering Internet gambling. “If the Legislature believes that
expanding gambling outside of Atlantic City is in the best interests of the State of New Jersey, it should place the question on the ballot for the voters to decide.” Christie’s rejection of the proposed law in favour of a referendum means that the bill must now be redrafted and submitted through the same approval process in the House and Senate that previously saw it win a majority vote, before being approved by Christie for referendum by the people of New Jersey. According to a survey of New Jersey voters by National Research Inc in June 2010, showed that a 62 percent majority would support a bill that “would permit
Internet versions of casino games for New Jersey Residents”, with approximately 65 percent of those supporters doing so for economic reasons. However, it would be jumping the gun to read too much into the relevance of the data accumulated from this survey. Whereas the results look relatively promising in terms of forecasts, the nature of an independent survey and the nature of a referendum, where the vote will simply be added to ballot papers at election time, are two very different dynamics. Nobody can accurately predict the direction of the people’s vote come November, and whilst not trying to promote
iGB Affiliate APRIL/MAY 2011
“Whether Nevada is actually in the box seat remains up for discussion, but certainly, those trying to engineer progress in New Jersey, Senator Lesniak and iMEGA among them, share Nevada’s disquiet over loss of firstmover-advantage rather acutely.”
excessive negativity on the bills chances in the hands of the New Jersey electorate, it shouldn’t be assumed, either way, where the people will hang their hats. Economic impact Much has been made of the potential fiscal benefits of what many are calling ‘the modernisation of New Jersey’s gaming laws’, the main reason being the dire state of the state’s public finances. Unemployment levels soared by an astounding 50 percent in the first year of the recession with the state budget for the fiscal year 2010 being 15 percent below that of 2009. And that’s not all. Closer to home,
the terrestrial gaming industry has suffered significantly, with Atlantic City casinos seeing a 25 percent drop in gross win between 2006 and 2009 with casino duty falling by 30 percent over the same period. Ivor Jones, Director at Numis Securities, summed up the likely impact of the passing of an iGaming bill on the state’s economic health in his column in the recent issue of iGaming Business magazine. “The Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association (iMEGA) commissioned a report from Econsult (an economics consultancy) which was published June last year . It speculated that the ‘short-run’ benefits from regulated gaming could be circa 2,000 jobs, circa US$80 million of income from employment and around US$50 million of state tax revenues. “However, it also discussed the possibility that New Jersey would become a US centre for the online gaming business yielding up to 57,000 jobs, US$2 billion of personal income and circa US$500 million of state tax revenues. “Based on projections like these it is easy to see why New Jersey legislators would have thought it was worth working on online gaming regulations.” However, the bill didn’t receive the endorsement of New Jersey’s governor. S490 is now in the hands of its sponsor, Senator Raymond J Lesniak, who must reintroduce the bill through the Senate and House for sign off from the Governor, before it is approved for referendum in November. Halfway house We spoke to the Senator moments after the decision was taken, and his line was, understandably, one of frustration, after initially making a statement that he would be working with Governor Christie to get the process back on track. “I’m very, very disappointed subsequent to issuing that statement because the Governor seems to want to put it on a referendum to amend the constitution which is absolutely unnecessary. It will just delay and likely end up killing the (bill’s) prospects. I’m going to try and convince
the Governor that we need this for Atlantic City; we need to get it up and running sooner rather than later and to address his other legitimate concerns so we can meet each other halfway.” That halfway point would constitute a radical tightening of the bill’s wording, specifically to address the potential problem of rogue Internet café operators offering iGaming form their premises, one of Governor Christie’s main concerns. However, Lesniak was more concerned about the wider implications of denying the passage of a bill that would have made a telling difference to the state’s financial burden. “I hope he cares enough about Atlantic City; about hundreds of millions of dollars of revenues, about hundreds of thousands of jobs. If he really does care about that then he’ll adjust his position accordingly and we’ll get this going. We can be the Mecca, if you will, the Silicon Valley for Internet gaming when it spreads, as it will, across the nation and internationally.” Returning to the discussion about public opinion, Lesniak hinted that a positive outcome may well be possible when put to vote, particularly after the lobbying and campaigning of organisations such as iMEGA. “It (the media campaigning) has certainly heightened awareness, and when people are aware of it they support it. It’s only because there is a lack of awareness that it doesn’t have support. I’m sure we’ve done enough to encourage other states to move as aggressively forward as we have and, perhaps, they will succeed where we, so far, have failed.” The race is on Where New Jersey has, so far, failed, other states, as Lesniak rightly points out, are positioning themselves to grab the all important first-mover-advantage of becoming the hub of iGaming in the US. Just prior to the veto in New Jersey, news filtered through that the Iowa State Senate Government Committee had approved a new online poker bill by nine votes to six, progressing Senate File 1165 to full Senate from where it will need approval from the
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“As in New Jersey, the Nevada bill has been hailed by economists as a viable blueprint for the creation of new tax revenues. Yet, as in New Jersey, the proposed bill has been met with opposition from the land-based fraternity.” Iowa House before entering into law. According to a report in the Des Moines Register, an approximate 150,000 Iowans are playing online poker illegally, accounting for upwards of $30 million in potential taxes that the state is currently forfeiting. Yet even here, there is fierce resistance to any passing of gambling related legislature for mainly moral reasons. The same paper recently published an article stating that state lawmakers were hesitant over legalising online poker because it would lead to a new breed of gamblers (notice that there is no mention of ‘problem’ gamblers, just the act itself). Indeed, the paper quoted a Senator Randy Feenstra tirade, saying, “It’s a terrible, terrible bill. We’ve had all these social bills to address credit card abuses, violence, children’s neglect and abuse – and here’s the main issue why these things occur.” The bill did, briefly, advance through a bipartisan committee of senators only to be pulled from the Ways and Means Committee vote. However, the Des Moines Register conducted a poll of its readers as to the legalisation of Internet gaming, not specific to poker, which returned a figure
of 73 percent who would oppose such a bill. Such are the battles that lie ahead for all states, some more than others, considering regulation. Nevada is another state oiling the machinery of a regulated poker framework. AB258 would call on the Nevada Gaming Commission to consider implementing legislation for Internet poker operators and suppliers, and has been met with more buoyant feedback than that of Iowa. As in New Jersey, the bill has been hailed by economists as a viable blueprint for the creation of new tax revenues, job creation and first-mover-advantage. Yet, as in New Jersey, the proposed bill has been met with opposition from the land-based fraternity who see such a step as harmful to the bricks and mortar industry. When we asked Senator Lesniak of the reasons why the New Jersey bill didn’t pass, or at least be granted a stay of execution under a ‘conditional veto’ as expected, his response was telling. “The influence of Harrah’s,” he said. “Harrah’s has an inordinate influence on this Governor and Harrah’s just doesn’t care about Atlantic City or the state of
New Jersey. It cares about its corporate interests, which is Internet gaming being approved federally, so that it can have one regulator, one tax source, one state of origin in Nevada which would be much to the detriment of New Jersey. Unfortunately, Harrah’s has had the Governor’s ear, has sat on his gaming transition team and obviously continues to have a great influence over his actions.” He continued, “We lost out 20 years ago with sportsbetting and we’re paying for it dearly now. My concern is that we’re going to be left behind again when we could have been the vanguard with our technology and our financial resources. We could have been at the front end of the new wave of gaming in this country and internationally, and I’m afraid that likelihood and possibility has really been set back by the Governor’s actions.” The same anxiety permeates in Nevada with a former State Assembly Speaker, now lobbying for PokerStars (who are firmly behind the Nevada bill) suggesting, “Make no mistake, this is about Nevada jobs, Nevada revenue and Nevada pride. Other states are going to leapfrog us.” Whether Nevada is actually in the box seat for that last comment to be relevant remains up for discussion, but certainly, those trying to engineer progress in New Jersey, Senator Lesniak and iMEGA among them, are feeling the same disquiet rather acutely.
iGB Affiliate APRIL/MAY 2011
So what next? Something about the lead up to D-Day in New Jersey made some of us in the industry feel that this wouldn’t be the time for the opening of the US market. The word on the ground as we approached decision time was that of progress, even cooperation on the part of the Governor’s office in trying to bring this bill to prominence in as structured and timely fashion as possible. Yet, cometh the hour, cometh Harrah’s, or so we’re told. Not that the land-based opposition to anything other than federal regulation took any of us by surprise, yet, surprised we were. Perhaps we envisaged the combination of Senator Lesniak’s vision and the crumbling state of New Jersey’s economics to be too obvious a marriage to be derailed at the altar. But prenuptials are a matter of course in this day and age and the course of this relationship will be decided in the most public of fashions. Whether any of Iowa, Nevada, California, Florida (the latter two more optimistic inclusions) or even the federal government (without clutching at straws) beat the Garden State to the punch we can only wait to find out.
Final word I shall leave the curtain call on this article to iMEGA Chariman, Joe Brennan, who was deeply involved in getting the New Jersey bill as far as the Governor’s desk, and who still has a significant role to play in preparing the road to referendum. “Senator Lesniak is weighing up his options for the reintroduction of his iGaming bill. While he believes strongly, based on the legislative history, that the legislature does not require a successful referendum on the question of iGaming, he has also considered preparing a referendum bill, one that addresses the other concerns that Governor Christie included in his veto. “A referendum bill would likely see quick passage through the legislative process, though it would remain to be seen if the opponents of the original bill, who insisted that a referendum was needed to permit iGaming in the state, would then come out and oppose the referendum (or underwrite other groups that could oppose it for them). “Regardless of what happens next in New Jersey, it remains that the likely
path forward for the industry will be on a state-by-state basis, with the hope that as more states come online, some level of ‘soft federalisation’ – similar to what has occurred in the lottery industry – will eventually evolve. Again, while news reports about Governor Christie’s veto spread, Iowa was making headway in its own legislature with an intra-state poker bill; Florida was insisting that it might begin offering Internet poker as early as this summer; and tribal gaming interests in California were voting to back one of the two proposed bills that have been introduced this session. “New Jersey may have coughed up its lead to be the first mover in the US on iGaming, but it may recover in time to reap the benefits that even Governor Christie claims he wants for the Garden State. But the race just got a lot tighter, and really, much more interesting. In the meantime, we as an industry have to rethink the best way to make this happen. It’s now been nearly five years of an impossible situation in the US. “The race is on… again.”
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Scott Klososky is a serial technology entrepreneur whose new book, Enterprise Social Technology, provides an analysis of how organisations can ‘harness the power of Social Media, Social Networking and Social Relevance’. For affiliates and operators in the gaming industry, Scott’s assertion that businesses need to build a ‘river of information’ to keep abreast of the social sphere is a reminder that more can be done by players in the industry to fully grasp the opportunity in the social space.
Let’s start with your professional background and your entry into the social technology space. I’ve been a technology entrepreneur my whole career so I’ve been working in technology since 1981. I started building my own companies in 1987 and by 1993, I had started a digital marketing company. When Web 2.0 came along a couple of years ago, I was talking about what aspects of Web 2.0 were going to be powerful. That led me into social networking, social media and social relevance. I’ve always been working in a company that’s looking at what’s coming over the horizon. That’s how I got here. You mention in your marketing for the book of the ‘unsettling reality that social tech tools are still seen as mere novelties by organisations’. Why do you think that companies perceive the social space like this? Is it a lack of foresight? I think that for the last three years, most companies thought that it was a novelty and that it would go away pretty quickly. The reason that they did was because the technology was first used by consumers. Regular people were using MySpace, Facebook, eCommunities and YouTube. It wasn’t corporate; it was just individuals uploading content. I think because it was essentially a friends and family thing that a lot of companies dismissed it as ‘Yes, it’s growing really quickly but I don’t see why we would want to use it’. In fact, to this day, you still see companies blocking the use
of social technologies in their companies, which is ridiculous. They block it because they perceive that young people are just going to waste time playing with these tools. Why do you think that this stigma still exists with some businesses? Have you come across any business sectors which are more against the use, or misunderstand the use, of the social space than others? I think government entities struggle. Other than that, it’s not so much the type of business entity – although you do get banks and/or investment companies who are highly regulated and they will use that as an excuse to block the technologies. After that, it’s just the large organisations. The larger you are, the larger your propensity to block things. Smaller companies, typically, don’t block at all. Away from blocking, how about the utilisation of their brands in the space? Do you feel that some of the bigger companies are wary of pushing their brand out there because they fear losing control of it? It completely depends on the type of large company. Product companies are doing pretty well on social media now. The large food and beverage companies, the large telecoms companies – they’re also doing pretty well. They learnt early on, two or three years ago, that this was a great way to approach consumers and create electronic word-of-mouth. So, consumer product companies are doing well. It’s the
large manufacturers or highly regulated financial services companies that are really struggling with how to use these tools. What’s your perception of how the online gambling space is approaching social technologies? There’s definitely room for improvement. There are many different aspects and concepts underneath social technologies. It’s a mistake that most industries think that Facebook and Twitter are 90 percent of what social technologies are when they’re really about five percent. There are concepts under social technology such as ‘crowdsourcing’. You have to ask how much of the gambling space is leveraging crowdsourcing. There are concepts such as building rivers of information. How do they use social tools like Google Reader that allow you to harness information, filter it and get it into your brand? It is the concept of building rivers of information; how much is the gambling space doing about building rivers of information? The bigger picture of Facebook is what we call ‘organisational voice’. That voice can have various angles. It can be Facebook, it could be blogging, it could be Twitter. There are different channels, and most organisations haven’t put together a good strategy for their voice; they’re very one dimensional. For example, blogging is great for a page and a half opinion piece about an interesting thought
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or concept and Twitter is good for putting out bits of information and resources four or five times a day. Normally, if you’re going to build an effective voice, you use both of the aforementioned channels because they are different. You want whatever strength those respective channels carry. I still think that we’re in the early days in the gambling space, of learning how to put these tools to work in a way that is sophisticated. Another area that has much room for development in gaming is measurement. How many organisations really measure their conversion rates? So, if we’re putting out a Twitter feed of information, what percentage of the time, when we put out a link, will people click on it and action on a website? The measurements are still really crude. People are still experimenting with these tools and haven’t really got it down to a science yet. If you move down from the operator segment to the affiliate sector, what advice would you give to affiliates trying to maximise their presence in social media? Do they have a different responsibility set or is it similar but tweaked to what you would say to organisations? It’s definitely tweaked. I think what affiliates have to do is be more scientific in their approach. You have to pick out three things that you’re going to test and set some goals for what you’re trying to accomplish. For instance, if you want to grow by learning to leverage e-word-ofmouth, then let’s set a target of how many connections you want to make. So you want to connect with 500 people. Okay, once you’ve connected to 500 people, what is your ability to place information or links to where we want people to take action? How much revenue will that drive for the business? It’s all about experimenting with what we call the ‘revenue on-demand’ campaigns. How can I put a link out that says ‘click here’ right now and you get an extra discount. What do I generate? Let’s talk about your book. Explain how you came to write the book and also the way in which it was put together – the concept of crowdsourcing? We created a lot of content, processes and ideas and helped a lot of companies use social technologies, and I was constantly being asked questions so, we thought
“I think what affiliates have to do is be more scientific in their approach. You have to pick out three things that you’re going to test and set some goals for what you’re trying to accomplish.” ‘let’s write a book’. Then we thought ‘why don’t we use social technology to create the book?’ I loved the concept of ‘crowdsourcing’. Our office is pretty good at crowdsourcing so we wondered if we could try to pioneer the creation of a model to ‘crowdscribe’ the book. We sat down and found that there are at least three areas that you could crowdsource. You could crowdsource the cover, the look and the feel of the book, you could crowdsource some of the content for the book and then you could crowdsource the publicity. And so we did. We took the book and we ‘crowdsourced’ the cover. We ran a contest with a $150 bounty and got 320 submissions of cover designs and picked a winner. Then we developed a model for getting the content created. We knew what we wanted the book to be about, we knew what the outline of the book was, so we created a model where I wrote the first and last chapters and then I pretty heavily outlined all the rest of the chapters. Then, we went out and put up a bounty of $1,000 for each chapter and we had a bunch of people compete to write each one. We picked the best content and paid $1,000 to each contributor. Then we edited the book together. It’s a model that worked really, really well. Surprisingly well, in fact. For the publicity, we came up with the concept of bounties. We published a list of about 20 different bounties that people could win money for driving publicity for the book both in the back of the book and on the website. We’re excited about that as a method of getting publicity for books. We’ve actually started a company called crowdscribe.com and we’re going to help people use the same methods with their books. That’s a really interesting concept. What were the backgrounds of some of the successful contributors? It’s a great question, and we had everything from 25-year-old guys, to stay-at-home mothers, to an 80-year-old woman who had been a marketing expert for years but who was obviously long retired. We had people from India, Australia, Europe and the US.
We picked winners by the content, not because of who they were. And so, when you’ve picked the winners and you tell them to send you a picture and paragraph bios for the book, it is then that you learn where everybody came from. It was intriguing to us that they came from so many walks of life. What would be the main selling points for businesses picking up this book, particularly as the content was crowdscribed? What does it bring to businesses and how does it educate them? I think the most important thing is the formula. The book is basically set-up to mimic the 12-step process to help companies apply social tech. It gives people a process. When they read the book, they’re going to learn some new concepts and new vocabulary but it’s really 12 chapters – steps one to twelve. If you follow those steps then within 90 days, you can have social tech in your business in a very professional way. I know that there is no silver bullet with the social space but if there was one piece of advice for an organisation within online gambling, an affiliate perhaps, that hasn’t got its social strategy together, what would it be? There are two steps I would give as advice. The first step is to build the best river of information you can on what’s going on in the social space. Study everything. You can follow the top ten Tweeters and top ten bloggers in the space, you can access newsletters and you can really put together a river of information so that you’re up-to-speed on what is going on. What are the techniques? What are the case studies? How are people using it? That’s the first step. You really need to get a lot of information dumped into your brain. The second step is that you need to get accustomed to doing pilot projects and becoming really good at testing and using the tools. The clients that we have that are scientific about testing are able to test things in 90 days and see if they work or not. If you’ve got a lot of information dumping in your head and a good scientific testing mentality, then you’ll make progress pretty fast.
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In an excerpt from iGaming Business’ forthcoming Global Business of Affiliate Marketing Report, freelance search consultant, Judith Lewis, explains that there is more to social media than the usual suspects. Social media can seem like a delicate marketplace full of folk who will vociferously object to any attempt by a company they see as manipulative or too commercial entering their space, no matter how benign. Sometimes, they will work to have that company removed from the system and the more aggressive will hound these companies off all related areas. Social media is also often seen as time intensive and, thus, too difficult to properly engage over. While social media is not as easy as traditional push media to enter, there are opportunities for affiliate marketers to stand out within this area, and effectively leverage social media.
Beyond the media There are many social media platforms – far more than those usual suspects – Facebook, Twitter, Del.icio.us, StumbleUpon, Reddit and Digg. Wikipedia has a page on social media sites and it is huge with a short description for each one. Filling the needs of everyone from eco-warriors to vampires and werewolves, these social sites may not all be suitable for affiliates looking to engage with potential customers unless your demographic fits the theme of the site. Beyond making Facebook friends, following people on Twitter and bookmarking things in Del.icio.us, there are other methods of engaging with your target audience. The key thing to remember is to not blast the same message repeatedly and to not pretend to be someone you aren’t. The former gets you ignored and the latter is a criminal offence.
Blogging Blogging is a much used and abused form of creating fresh content to get a rankings boost in Google, usually by scraping the content of other people’s niche sites and repurposing it for their own. This could be for a simple blog, which sells as space, or
for a link farm. Whatever the reason, it is unlikely to create engagement. A blog can only create engagement if comments are turned on, and if the author is engaging. Blogging is about communicating in a personal way. Companies have tackled this particularly well in some cases, with different employees blogging about life within and outside the company, adding a personal touch to a corporate message. Blogging should communicate and engage, not dictate and broadcast. This can seem to be labour intensive; however, if a scheduled time is set aside each week, soon, blog ideas will be flowing. With a blog, be aware that people could post negative comments. These people may be just trying to stir trouble or they may be genuine. Do allow some negative comments on your blog, as only positive posted messages can look suspicious. Engage these people by email, or by other means away from the blog as well, to ensure their complaints, if legitimate, are handled.
Forums Forums have been around for a long time. They started back in the days of newsgroups, BBSs (Bulletin Board System – you dialled in to post messages and interact with people) and related technologies. Selling over these systems needs to be done more indirectly for the effort to be effective. Generally, a signature file is allowed which enables the person posting to self-identify. Usually, there is also a profile page. While it is important to not be too sales-y within these two spaces, building brand awareness and authority can be done. Forums provide an opportunity to engage, display expertise and meet part of the community you sell to, which can help with how products or services are displayed and described, what additional products could be added to the mix or how
to better entice players on to a particular forum. Moving beyond forums specifically aimed at gamblers to ones demographically similar to the gambling consumer can help capture people not currently playing but who are open to the possibility. While this form of marketing is much more labour intensive and requires interests outside the direct affiliate channel be leveraged, it can also be extremely effective. Yahoo! Answers is one of the most abused systems for spam with some people engaging in practices now illegal under UK and EU law. This is a forum where users can ask a question and have it answered by other users. In this sense, it is answering questions through the wisdom of the crowd method. There are examples of the same person going on as one user, asking a question, then logging on as another user and answering it to get exposure. Yahoo! Answers is best engaged over as an expert. To engage in this way, a suggestion is to create an account as an expert or player of a specific type of game and answer questions posed on how-to, strategies and techniques. Links from Yahoo! Answers are useful and if voted best answer, the answer and link becomes highly visible.
The full version of this article is published in the forthcoming Global Business of Affiliate Marketing Report. For more information and enquiries about The Global Business of Affiliate Marketing obtaining a copy of the report, please contact Shona ODonnell at Shona.ODonnell@ sportbusiness.com or call 0207 954 3476. Affiliate_marketing_Mock_Cover.indd 2
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For both affiliates and program operators, making the right decisions for your business is crucial in ascertaining the most effective routes to market and forecasting any potential ROI. Choosing between affiliate networks and operator-direct deals is one such decision affecting both sides of the affiliate relationship. Affiliate network concept Affiliation is a fast-paced and growing industry which, in its current state, can be characterised as moving towards consolidation where an individual affiliate can grow to such a level that he ultimately transforms into an independent company or affiliate network. An affiliate network, also called an affiliate company, is an entity that acts as an intermediary between affiliates and operators. It’s important to note that an affiliate network does not disclose any information of the affiliates registered with it, therefore, an operator will only have access to the affiliate network and not to its affiliates. Affiliate networks usually register a single affiliate account with an operator and then drive traffic by offering its affiliates to promote operators’ campaigns. Certain affiliate networks establish themselves in a particular country/region focusing on language-specific affiliation; some others grow bigger and establish an international or continent-specific network of affiliates.
Operator perspective Why choose an affiliate network partnership? It’s apparent that small operators or
those new to the market must invest extra efforts on strengthening their acquisition strategies. As opposed to big gaming operators who may have an affiliate manager per country and per product, new and smaller sized industry entrants can’t
operators, choose to work with affiliate networks and below are a number of factors affecting that choice: ●●Opening operations in a new market or region. It takes time and investment to establish your own partnerships with
“Whether an affiliate or operator, before stepping into a new partnership, carefully consider and analyse your potential return on investment to ensure how this commitment can benefit you best.” afford to maintain large affiliate marketing teams, very often having to work with a team of affiliate managers consisting of as little as two-to-three people performing various tasks. A small team like this cannot recruit and manage a substantial number of affiliates. Here is where an affiliate network partnership comes in. A medium sized affiliate network will usually have around 20,000 affiliates registered with its platform, therefore, once an agreement is achieved with an operator and a campaign goes live, an instant traffic boost is guaranteed, which a small operator on its own would find difficult to achieve in a similar time frame. Nevertheless, even large blue chip
individual affiliates operating in that market, gain trust and make a campaign profitable for both parties. An affiliate network can offer an operator instant traffic coming from the new market using its tools that restrict a particular campaign to affiliates coming from that particular country. ●●Having to manage one partnership is both time and effort-saving. In the case of an affiliate network, the operator agrees on a particular deal and rewards a single affiliate network account for its marketing efforts. ●●Traffic quality. Operators will need to monitor the quality of traffic sent by the affiliates within the network. Major,
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established affiliate networks carefully choose affiliate partners for their platform ensuring they can provide operators with quality traffic. However, it’s always worth carefully analysing an affiliate network’s marketing results in the first months of the campaign; this will give an operator a good indication of whether the traffic needs to be refined and how well players convert. Based on the analyses gathered in the first months of the campaign, an operator can choose to refine it and offer incentives based on the targets established in order to maximise the campaign’s profitability. Such an example could be offering a higher revenue percentage or CPA deal to the target market to maximise traffic or improve its quality. Another option would be offering multi-level or tiered rewards based on the revenue amounts driven by individual affiliates within the network.
Affiliate perspective Affiliate network or operator-direct; dos and don’ts: ●●Increased opportunity to get a better deal than an individual contract. It’s no secret that in most cases, to form a partnership with an affiliate network, operators should be prepared to pay: a) a set up fee to kick-off a campaign; b) a high revenue share or CPA deal to cover the affiliate network’s costs and at the same time be attractive for the affiliates within the network. It would be difficult for a small or medium sized affiliate to negotiate a high revenue/CPA deal that would typically be offered to a network. ●●Stats transparency and reliable conversion tracking. Major iGaming operators have either developed their in-house affiliate marketing platform or opted for a third-party affiliate marketing
software provider which usually ensures a more user-friendly affiliate interface and stats transparency together with in-depth reporting. When signing up with an affiliate network, beware that reporting can be basic and may not provide the variety of stats major operators are ready to offer affiliates in a
possible conversion rate. Being an operator-direct affiliate, you will most likely be able to find various media types: banners, text links, newsletters, articles, live score charts, etc. These are usually available in all industry sizes and formats specifically designed for each product and usually translated into a number of
“It’s important to note that an affiliate network does not disclose any information of the affiliates registered with it, therefore, an operator will only have access to the affiliate network and not to its affiliates.” direct deal. It’s also worth checking how often the stats are updated and whether an affiliate network can provide its affiliates with real-time stats. ●●Affiliate rewards and payments accuracy. Major blue chip operators strive to provide their affiliates with efficient reward calculations updated on a daily basis, in turn, this allows affiliates to clearly see and anticipate their monthly reward. Be sure to inquire whether an affiliate network is ready to provide you with regularly updated reports with enough transparency to see how the commission was calculated. It’s also very important to enquire whether an affiliate network has an efficient monthly payment procedure and can commit to a specific deadline. It’s worth noting here, that affiliate networks, being an intermediary between the operator and the affiliate, solely depend on the operator’s payment procedures, hence, payments to their affiliates in most cases will be delayed. ●●Media and tracking. Nowadays, operators strive to provide affiliates with high quality media to ensure the highest
European languages. Affiliate networks would usually provide you with a basic media set limited to the most popular media sizes and languages. In both cases, however, affiliates should be able to see page views and clicks reporting updated in real-time. Whether an affiliate or operator, before stepping into a new partnership, carefully consider and analyse your potential return on investment to ensure how this commitment can benefit you best. Base your evaluation on the above points to make the decision making process easier. It’s important to remember that competition in the industry is very high which forces all its entrants to be more creative and flexible, adjusting to the fast changing environment along the way.
Karolina Filip is a professional in the Affiliate Marketing field with over five years experience and a solid knowledge of the iGaming industry. For more information feel free to contact me on email@example.com.
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With the exception of a handful of independent sites, big enough to operate on their own, a huge majority of poker rooms exist on one of the major poker networks run by iPoker, Microgaming, Boss Media, OnGame and Entraction. But what are the realities of operating on one of these networks?
NETWORK RULES are a necessary control for keeping order between the different operators, to ensure no-one is stepping too far out of line to gain an advantage over their competitors. Some of the key points that network rules should cover are: ● maximum rakeback percentage allowed, if any ● affiliate commission restrictions ● whether accounts on multiple skins are permitted ● promotional spend restrictions ● maximum percentage and cash amount of sign-up bonus Essentially, any variable which is key in attracting and retaining players. It is important that the network spends a lot of time getting these rules right, as they can be the difference between a healthy, stable network, and anarchy or dictatorship. They should be fair, but not too restrictive. Every network wants to prevent their skins poaching players from each other rather than recruiting fresh players from outside the network, and while it is natural to include a rule for this purpose, it is important that this doesn’t go too far. An example of an overly-restrictive rule, which does not benefit anyone involved, is a stipulation that players are only permitted a rakeback account on one site throughout the whole network. This doesn’t prevent a player opening a non-rakeback account but, realistically, no player who was even semiserious would play without rakeback on the Cake Network.
To illustrate, if a player created an account years ago on ‘Site A’, but stopped playing there, and now wants to play on ‘Site B’ on the same network because of a great promotion there, he wouldn’t be allowed to. This is bad for the player, as he can’t take advantage of the offer, and bad for Site B and the network, because the player will now be forced to play on a different network. Site A doesn’t benefit either, as the player has no interest in playing on its skin – the player is lost from the network forever. A poorly constructed network rule can lead to the steady decline of player liquidity. The bigger operators have invested in a large team of employees, office facilities, marketing across a range of media channels, and many other things. As such, they need healthy profit margins in order to turn a profit at the end of the year, and this is one of the primary purposes of the network rules. Having said that, it is practically impossible to effectively police every aspect of a poker network. There will always be skins that push their luck and try to circumvent the rules. The newer, smaller operators have such low overheads that they can afford, and need, to offer much higher commissions in order to get affiliates interested in promoting their nascent product. As a result of this, most skins on the major poker networks are operating on increasingly smaller profit margins, which will very soon become unsustainable. Imagine a forest with trees of equal height each competing for an equal share
of sunlight. If a single tree grows an extra foot in height, it can expect a much larger share of the sunlight, at the relatively low cost of growing the extra foot. Once one tree has made the move, other trees must follow suit or they will be left in the dark, then all the trees will be right back where they started, but they have all lost out by spending energy on growing. The forest, as a whole, is much worse off because of one greedy tree. This analogy has now become the norm. Each company’s affiliate offering starts out low, maybe 25 percent, then one starts offering 30 percent, and the rest have to follow suit or lose out on business. Before long, every poker room is giving away as much as they theoretically can without making a loss, and profit margins for every operator become unfeasibly small. There is still a lot of money floating around in online poker, so there should be plenty of room for operators, affiliates and players to all do well. Let’s lower and level the forest canopy so equilibrium is restored along with profitability, then operators can focus on the important things like giving the player the best gaming experience they can.
NEIL STEPHENSON is Poker Affiliate Manager at Purple Lounge. He has been in the industry for five years and has previously managed affiliate programs at Poker Heaven and Gutshot Poker.
iGB Affiliate APRIL/MAY 2011
Trust? Give us a YEAH!
Professionalism The basis for success at bewinners is a professional partnership. Our team always strives to find the best solutions together with you.
Reliability You can count on our support. Place your trust in the high-performing service line-up offered by the bwin group.
Transparency Overview, insight, perspective! Account management, cost transparency and clear Terms and Conditions.
Fairness The core goal at bewinners is to ensure sporting fairness. Internationally recognised certified partners create clear guidelines.
Why should you say YEAH! to bewinners? Well-known brands such as bwin, betoto and SAjOO are just a few examples. Make the most of the opportunities presented with the extensive Sports betting, Poker, Casino and Games line-up. How about the flexibility and simplicity of the program? Still not convinced? Don’t worry – that’s not even the half of it!
Search marketing agency, Greenlight, has released its 2010 annual report for the online gaming industry which highlights some interesting data about the search patterns of consumers in the iGaming space. However, it is Greenlight’s Gaming Sector Report for December that we shall be examining over the next two pages, as we determine which poker businesses are faring best in consumer search patterns for both paid and natural search in the UK market. ONE SIGNIFICANT RESULT of Greenlight’s 2010 annual report that we should mention before looking at December’s data, is that ‘poker’ was the top keyword of the 12 month period between January 2010 and December 2010, accounting for 2.34 million of the 10.74 million searches racked up by the top ten keywords detailed in the charts below. Interestingly, bingo was a close second with 2.1 million searches with casino narrowly behind in third on just over two million. Another key trend to this data is the significant and largely uniform drop in search numbers over the 12 month period, sliding from just over three million
searches in January to just over 800,000 by December. This accounts for relative freefall in the amount of searches for iGamingrelated keywords with December’s total of 802,000 accounting for a mere third of the figures reported in January 2010. We can only assume reasons for this depression, but it might not all be attributed to a lack of interest in the space generally. We could account for a transition period where the spike of interest of new-to-themarket consumers falls as they become more regular players and, therefore, less reliant on search engines to get to their preferred sites. This would assume
that such undulating search figures are commonplace as trends of newly interested players flock to the search engines. However, we can’t look past the fact that this could indeed serve as some form of barometer for the space. The iGaming Index, published in each issue of iGaming Business magazine, monitors the top 30 listed iGaming business and their performance relative to the FTSE100. In the most recent issue, the Index hit and all-time low with many companies trading in negative figures, some with alarming regularity, as share prices fluctuate in reaction to M&A speculation, financial performance and strategic announcements.
■ Poker.......................................................49,500 ................ 20%
■ Free poker ........................................18,100 ....................8%
■ Online poker...................................14,800 ....................6%
■ Poker rules .......................................5,400 ........................2%
■ Poker chips......................................4,400 ........................2%
■ Poker news ......................................3,600 ........................2%
■ Other keywords ..........................86,360 ................ 38%
■ Poker games .................................14,800 ....................6% ■ Free online poker......................12,100 ....................5% ■ Poker hands ...................................12,100 ....................5% ■ How to play poker ...................6,600 ........................3%
Continuted on page 38
iGB Affiliate APRIL/MAY 2011
6373.1 bet365 affiliates 25.03 (210x297+3mm). 28/03/2011 10:19 Page 4
POKER AFFILIATES NEVER FOLD bet365affiliates.com After our success at the eGaming Review Awards 2010, weâ€™re pleased to announce further wins with Best Affiliate Programme and Best Affiliate Manager at the recent iGB Affiliate Awards 2011.
POKER SUPPLEMENT Continuted from page 36
Indeed, Morgan Stanley’s recent weekly leisure report focuses on Betfair, which recently floated on the FTSE350 Index, forecasting that its poker revenues are likely to continue on their decline in Q3. The report stated, “Poker revenues fell 15 percent in Q2, and we expect a 14 percent decline in Q3. The company put the Q2 weakness down to the migration of the company’s poker product to the Ongame platform. Although the migration went well from a technical perspective, and most players have continued to use Betfair post-migration, some of the higher-value customers found that some of the features they liked in Betfair Poker were no longer available and so were no longer active on it at the end of Q2. Betfair is looking to add these features back to its new poker offering, but we do not expect any immediate recovery. We expect revenues of £6 million in poker in the quarter, so this product now accounts for only seven percent of net gaming revenue.” It may not make for entirely pleasant reading, but the poker environment is still very much alive and kicking, and we can now turn to December’s search results to see exactly how UK consumers are accessing some of the sector’s leading operator and content sites.
Natural search: poker keywords Searches for poker-related terms accounted for more than 227,000 searches in December 2010. So, how did those searches break down? (Figures 1 and 2) The keyword ‘poker’ was searched for 49,500 times in December, accounting for 22 percent of all searches for poker. PokerListings was the most visible poker-related website, achieving 37 percent visibility through ranking at position one for 16 keywords analysed. However, consistent with Greenlight’s previous report, it did not rank on page one for the most searched for term ‘poker’, featuring at position 11. PokerStars ranked at position one for six terms but it achieved lower visibility for the high volume keywords. Since September, its visibility increased by eight percent whilst PokerListings, by comparison, lost five percent share of voice. 888.com increased its visibility by ten percent and, therefore, it ascended from eighth position to fifth. By contrast, PokerJunkie lost six percent share of voice, which saw it drop from fourth position to position 15 in Greenlight’s league table.
Paid search: poker keywords Searches specifically for poker-related
terms accounted for more than 227,000 searches in December. Here Greenlight’s report assesses which advertisers were most visible for those keywords. (Figures 3 and 4) Full Tilt Poker appeared for 20 keywords analysed, at an average ad position of three. Its share of voice increased by six percent and, thus, it rose from third position to the top of the league table. By comparison, Sky Poker bid on more keywords (25) but at a lower average ad position of four. Consistent with Greenlight’s last report, three of 888’s display URLs featured in the top ten advertisers: 888Poker, Poker.888 and 888. com, which achieved 42 percent, 33 percent and 23 percent visibility respectively. Achieving 21 percent share of voice apiece, William Hill Poker and Full Tilt Poker displayed the most visible individual ad creatives. William Hill Poker advertised its £400 signing on bonus, whilst Full Tilt Poker featured a more generic ad creative, promoting an in-game selling point: ‘Learn, Play and Chat with the Full Tilt Poker Pros for free!’ For more information on Greenlight’s gaming reports, please contact Krishna Rao at Krishna.Rao@GreenlightSearch.com.
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iGB Affiliate APRIL/MAY 2011
The opening gambit to this year’s London Affiliate Conference saw the iGB Affiliate Awards celebrate a year of success, innovation and achievement in the iGaming industry’s affiliate sector. We pay tribute to all of the award winners at the biggest and most successful ceremony that iGB Affiliate has had the pleasure to organise and host.
oker Best P li Affi ate
PokerStrategy.com “Thanks to everyone who voted for and supported us – especially our great community! Winning these awards is a great honour and shows that we managed to move in the right direction. The awards also help to set high expectations on ourselves for the coming year, where we hope to excel in our mission to popularise poker world-wide and help grow the industry as a whole.” Damian Sokol – Chief B2B OfficerPokerStrategy.com
asino Best C li Affi ate
CasinoCity.com “When CasinoCity.com was launched 15 years ago, our goal was to be the best casino directory on the web. It’s been an incredible journey and an amazing roller coaster ride since then. The rise in iGaming fuelled our growth, but we’ve also been challenged by the dot.com crash and the UIGEA and have gone on the offensive by suing the US Department of Justice. Over 100 staff members have worked on CasinoCity.com websites, we’ve had over 50 million site visits, and we’ve spent many millions of dollars on improvements funded by affiliate and advertising revenue. It’s a real honour to accept the iGB Best Casino Affiliate Award on behalf of everyone who has made Casino City what it is today.” Michael Corfman – President & CEO at Casino City Sponsored by WagerShare
iGB Affiliate APRIL/MAY 2011
ports Best S Affiliate Betting
Oddschecker.com “We are delighted to have won the Best Sportsbetting Affiliate at the iGB Awards. The awards are held in high regard since they are voted for by industry peers; so winning is really an achievement to be proud of. Since 1999, Oddschecker has constantly innovated and driven forward to become one of the largest sportsbetting affiliates in the industry; it’s a great feeling to finally be recognised for our achievements. Winning this award has started our year with a bang, and with launching our new mobile and in-play products in March, this could prove to Oddschecker’s most successful year yet.” Dave Watkins, Commercial Manager, Oddschecker.com Sponsored by the Sports Betting Community
ffiliate Best A er Manag
ingo Best B Affiliate
James Woods, Affiliate Manager, bet365 “Since being recruited to bet365 in 2009, I have strived to ensure that my approach has been hardworking and consistent, from managing the casino affiliates initially, to my current position of managing the Affiliate Team. Testament to this, to be recognised individually for the Best Affiliate Manager award is a proud moment for me, and has only served to inspire me to develop our affiliate program even further. bet365 is already a truly exciting place to work, but in terms of the overall affiliate industry, it doesn’t get much better than being able to claim to be the Best Affiliate Manager of the Best Affiliate Program, and my hope is that these awards create inspiration amongst affiliates existing and new to work even more closely with us.”
ffiliate Best A m Progra
bet365 “We at bet365 place a lot of emphasis on our affiliate program, and constantly try to ensure that it is a fantastic option for affiliates. Firstly, we have created a strong overall gambling brand, with very strong products and promotions, and a watertight CRM strategy. We have then supported this customer offering with an intuitive, user-friendly affiliate platform, and boosted the capacity of the team, taking on more hardworking professionals to cater for the ever growing affiliate bases, with further growth planned this year. Therefore, it was with much appreciation that the continued hard work and focus of the affiliate team at bet365 was recognised with the Best Affiliate Program award for the second year running. We will continue to strive to create and maintain the best affiliate program, and the best results for bet365 Affiliates.” James Woods, Affiliate Manager, bet365
Bingoport.co.uk “We were both surprised and honoured to win the Best Bingo Affiliate award. It’s testament to all of our hard working staff and free bingo chat hosts that work tirelessly at Bingoport.co.uk. Add to that the fantastic night we had at the awards ceremony and it’s already been a great year for our team. We thank iGB and everyone that voted.” Scott Logan – Managing Director – Bingoport
iGB Affiliate APRIL/MAY 2011
ffiliate Best A rk Netwo
Income Access “This award goes out to our whole team at Income Access, who are so dedicated to the industry and our network of affiliates and operators. When you enjoy being part of a community and strive to contribute value and develop meaningful relationships, it’s no longer a job – it’s participation between partners striving to reach the same goal. This is our third year in a row for Best Network and, for us, it’s about saying ‘thank you’ to the people who have acknowledged us for this award and making a strong commitment to continue to reach further. We can’t think of a better industry to be a part of, so thank you so much for your ongoing support.” Nicky Senyard, CEO, Income Access
verall Best O Affiliate
u The Lo for Award o n ia Fab g
amin Best iG unity m m Co
Best r: me w e N coate Affili
PokerStrategy.com The judges awarded this exceptional honour to Poker Strategy because of its volume and quality of players and also the fact that its approach nurtures players through a progressive education system. The judges also commented that the site itself has been built in a way that encourages high conversions and easy navigation. The judges concluded that Poker Strategy is pushing the boundaries in affiliate operations; it is a leading business which provides a service to improve and grow the industry.
GPWA “The Gambling Portal Webmasters Association (GPWA) was founded ten years ago on the basis that working together is important to our mutual success. Through thick and thin the GPWA has remained focused on providing an environment where iGaming affiliates can freely share their views with one another in a way that benefits everyone. The GPWA staff has worked hard to create an environment that fosters participation by both affiliates and affiliate programs, but it is the willingness of GPWA members to share their honest opinions and their experiences with one another that is our true success story, and one that should make every member proud.” Michael Corfman – Executive Director – GPWA
Bettingpro.com “We are delighted to have received this award, especially as we were up against several other quality websites and were happy just to be among the nominations. Bettingpro has really started to take shape in recent months with the launch of a bookmaker review section which has proved very popular with our readers. We’re also in the process of doing something similar for casino, poker and bingo to ensure that the brand remains an authoritative one. Aside from this, our team of dedicated sports writers ensure that all the main sporting events are covered on a weekly basis, while we also have some expert tipsters across sports such as football, tennis, horse racing, cricket and basketball. Bettingpro readers should look out for lots of exciting developments in the months to come!” Matthew Glazier – Managing Editor of Bettingpro
er ewcom Best N m ra g ro P Affiliate
GoWild Affiliates The judges felt that GoWild Affiliates deserved this award because of its great player loyalty and VIP scheme as well as an excellent and responsive affiliate team. The judges summarised GoWild Affiliates as one of the best Microgaming powered casino launches in the last few years, and definitely one to watch!
iGB Affiliate APRIL/MAY 2011
t aymen Best P “We are very proud of this recognition for our System
service and we plan to keep up the good work! We are very grateful to those who chose to vote for Moneybookers. Throughout 2011, we will do our best to make affiliates feel even more comfortable, safe and happy with us.” Julian Artopé, VP of Marketing, Moneybookers
Best al adition Non-Tr te a Affili
nding Outsta ution Contrib aming iG e to th y s u Ind tr
on novati Best In ing m a iG in the y Industr Affiliate
ValueChecker Affiliates “We’re delighted to win such a prestigious award. Our aim was to build a product that would benefit other sportsbook affiliates and operators. We’ve invested a lot of time and money in ValueChecker Affiliates, so to be recognised by the iGB judges is a testament to the quality and uniqueness of our solution. We’re simply delighted!” Sinead Lambert, Affiliate Marketing Manager, ValueChecker Affiliates
AffiliateGuardDog.com “Thank you, affiliates, for giving AGD the opportunity to win ‘Best Non-Traditional Affiliate’ in 2010 and again in 2011! Our group works hard to bring the best service possible for iGaming affiliates. Recognition from both iGB and affiliates gives us immense satisfaction that our work is both effective and appreciated. This award will be displayed proudly and gives us the drive to develop more much-needed services in the coming months. Let 2011 be the year of the affiliate!” Andrew Mueller, President/Owner AffiliateGuardDog.com
Dominique, GamesandCasino.com “I am truly honoured. I had no idea people appreciated my efforts this much. Affiliates need a clean and stable environment to work in and together, over the years, the industry has created some norms for both affiliates and affiliate programs to follow. Let’s not ever lose sight of these norms; they facilitate a fair, trustworthy and lucrative collaboration between affiliates and programs. I would like to thank the many affiliates who keep their eyes open and report their experiences on message boards. This helps all of us stay clear of unfair practices. And I would like to thank all the managers who help affiliates work under fair terms and help us along the way. This is what makes this industry prosper.”
iGB Affiliate APRIL/MAY 2011
6373.1 bet365 affiliates 25.03 (210x297+3mm). 28/03/2011 12:13 Page 2
SPORTS AFFILIATES KNOW THE SCORE FOOTBALL
bet365affiliates.com After our success at the eGaming Review Awards 2010, weâ€™re pleased to announce further wins with Best Affiliate Programme and Best Affiliate Manager at the recent iGB Affiliate Awards 2011.
Move your visitors from awareness to action. By Marius Filip, International Affiliate Manager, Gambling-Affiliation. ROMANIA has a long-standing gambling heritage, beginning in 1906 with the formation of the national lottery, Loteria Romana, right through to 1990, when gambling in Romania finally achieved legal status (the first casino opening a year later). Today, the country boasts two dozen large scale casinos and over 25,000 gaming machines found in arcade halls, coffee shops and other prime locations. Sportsbetting is also fully legal with high street betting shops commonplace in most major Romanian cities. Romania’s gambling culture has matured quickly and although regulation is fairly new, the strength of the industry serves as a robust platform for a promising future. With 22 million inhabitants and an Internet penetration of more than 40 percent, Romania has the potential to become a goldmine for online businesses. Currently, the online gambling market is worth more than €600 million – this is how much an approximate 300,000 Romanian users gambled online in 2010 alone, emphasising just how the Romanian market has boomed in the past few years.
The continuous growth of affiliate marketing in Romania The growth in the market in recent years has been stark, with more than 10,000 websites and blogs related to gambling appearing on the Internet. The majority specialise in three areas: sportsbook (mainly football and tennis), casino (blackjack, roulette, etc) and poker, while skill games such as backgammon and rummy are very popular and are wellsearched terms on Google. Most of the webmasters in Romania are men aged between 18 and 50, with 90 percent of them conversant in English. Indeed, a number of Romanian webmasters are recognised as among the finest in Europe, constructing quality websites and blogs with modern, stylish design and layout combined with good content. Nevertheless, a degree of education and direction is still required on their parts in relation to building traffic and increasing conversion rates. Based on a personal analysis of the Romanian affiliate marketing, it can be categorised in the following four ways: ● 1) A large percentage of Romanian webmasters are likely to attract more traffic from Google by applying a good SEO strategy to increase organic results,
or by using link building strategies that improve search engine rankings from good quality sites. Such affiliates are fanatical about ranking first in Google and invest a lot of money in buying the traffic needed to achieve supremacy. This is worthwhile investment, as they will potentially achieve a high ROI. ● 2) Secondly, many webmasters are beginners using different social media channels to achieve a high public exposure with minimum investment. This is done via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube, helping their community to grow as the contacts spread the word. Writing good content keeps existing followers curious and ensures they come back. ● 3) Some affiliates own databases of gaming-related email addresses which, together with an attractive bonus for their players and the right email marketing software, results in high conversion rates – in gaming terms, this popular method is called ‘Kit-emailing’ . ● 4) Finally, combining some or all of the three methods listed above. As previously mentioned, the majority of Romanian affiliates are English speaking which makes it easier for them to construct their websites according to international market standards. English equivalents to gambling-related terms in Google (the most used search engine in Romania) are:
Romania as a potential market that focusing on these three products will return the highest results. Google holds the majority of search engine market share in Romania. Based on a 30 day analysis carried out on one of the top Romanian sportsbook sites in the midst of the football season, the number of Google searches looks very interesting:
The Romanian market holds plenty of opportunities for foreign operators. Many gambling brands currently provide websites in the Romanian language, directly targeting local consumers. Although online gambling is not yet regulated in Romania, there are moves afoot to bring legislation on board, which will underline the country’s suitability as a desirable market for any expanding online gaming company. The new entrants should look at the ways Romanian people use the Internet to search for gambling-related subjects and implement a search engine optimisation strategy that make their sites visible and more user-friendly. Having the opportunity to invest in and enter this promising market together with a professional team that understands its specifics, supported by a sufficient budget allocation and sound strategy will potentially result in a decent return on investment and ultimate growth in this region.
‘Pariuri sportive’ (sportsbetting); ‘pronosticuri sportive online’ (sport picks online); ‘biletul zilei’ (ticket of the day); ‘biletul zilei pariuri’ (betting ticket of the day); ‘pariuri sportive online’ (online sports betting); and ‘bonus pariuri’ (bonus bet).
Casino Free casinos games, along with no deposit casino.
Poker ‘Poker online’ (online poker) and ‘free poker’ (poker gratis). Sportsbetting (namely football or tennis), poker (Texas Hold’em) and casino games such as blackjack and roulette are the most common online gambling activities in Romania and are played regularly by the Romanian people. This suggests to all operators and affiliates considering
1) ‘Pariuri sportive’ (sports betting)
2) ‘Biletul zilei’ (ticket of the day)
3) ‘Biletul zilei pariuri’ (betting
ticket of the day) 4) ‘Pariuri sportive online’ (online
sports betting) ●
Total: 244,200 searches over 30 days resulting in and average of 8,140 visitors per day.
If a Romanian site can rank in Google’s top search results using one of the four keywords mentioned above, it can achieve around 5,000 unique visitors per day, with a CTR (click through rate) of two percent. In the case of sportsbetting reaching an average of 100 betting players per day, a webmaster’s potential daily commission earnings can sit anywhere between €800 and €1,000.
Opportunity for foreign operators to invest in the Romanian market
iGB Affiliate APRIL/MAY 2011
Move your visitors from awareness to action.
MOST MARKETERS TODAY are familiar with the AIDA model that describes consumer behaviour as four stages: attention, interest, desire and action. While consumers and the marketplace have drastically changed since the model was developed 100 years ago, the way people make purchase decisions, even online, is still the same. For anyone involved in marketing a product or service online, the key to properly applying the AIDA model from awareness through to action is to ensure there is continuity and flow to support a web visitor’s progression through each of the steps. None of the steps can be skipped, and all of them must happen in sequence. Ultimately, you must help to answer two questions for a visitor to pass through all of the AIDA stages. ● Do you have what I want? ● Why should I get it from you?
Step 1: Awareness Visitors who have just arrived at your site have a very low level of commitment and may click away at any moment. They are looking for reassurance, recognition of their needs and a clear path to follow. If something catches their eye, they may stay and explore further. The rules of web awareness are: ● If the visitor can’t find something easily, it does not exist. ● If you emphasise too many items, all of them lose importance. ● Any delay increases frustration.
Unfortunately, many companies use their landing page to scream, shout, and demand the visitor’s attention. They do this through the use of bold colour blocks, bright images and graphics, and large font headlines – all trumpeting different items to click on. To move your visitor from awareness to interest, help them find what they are looking for easily. Resist the temptation to include banner ads, entry pop-ups or other visual distractions, and eliminate unnecessary choices that clutter up the page and confuse your visitors.
Step 2: Interest On the web, interest is very fleeting. A world of other websites is just a mouse click away. People at this stage are in an ‘If it’s interesting, I’ll check it out’ mindset, and their level of commitment is still very low. Interest can be viewed as a transient pull and concentration of the attention on a particular object. Often, interest on the web is expressed in a split-second decision to click on something. If the attention surge is strong enough, your visitors will make the action of clicking. The key to creating interest is to focus on the visitors’ needs and mindset. Elements of your landing page must be relevant to them, and they must self-select because they recognise this relevance. The rules of web interest are: ● Understand who the visitor is. ● Understand what the visitor is trying to accomplish.
Web interest is developed when a user can either identify with a group of people who your website is targeting, or recognise that they have a need that your site is solving. In order for users to self-select, or identify with, your site, they must be given a discrete choice of specific classes of visitors to your site, and the appropriate path to follow. For example, a university website might include labels for ‘Prospective Students’, ‘Alumni’, ‘Parents’ and ‘Current Students’. This allows users to virtually raise their hand and say, ‘Yes, I identify with this label’. Similarly, interest can be built when your site identifies a specific need that your visitors have. The Southwest Airlines homepage is a good example of a site that prominently features a needs-based navigation section. To the right of the large photo, visitors are invited to select from the following choices: ● Book a Flight ● Check in Online ● Check your Flight Status ● View or Change your Flight Think about how you might use a similar approach on your site.
Step 3: Desire The mindset and attention span of the visitor in the desire stage is different from those in the preceding stages. While the attention and interest stages may have lasted only a few seconds, visitors in the desire stage may give you their full attention for minutes or even hours. They
iGB Affiliate APRIL/MAY 2011
are in research mode and are willing to take more time. With visitors in the desire stage, you get the precious gift of having them spend time on your landing page or website. You have piqued their interest and they are now going to check you out. This is when visitors begin seeking to answer the question ‘do you have what I want?’ It’s important not to rush your visitors through this stage. You can’t move too fast without seeming off-putting. Yet, we see this all the time on the web. Have you ever visited an e-tailer website and after being shown some random featured product on the home page, been instructed to ‘Buy it Now’? This can be seen as premature and inappropriate. So what should you do instead? Follow these basic rules for building desire: ● Make the visitor feel appreciated. ● Make the visitor feel safe. ● Understand that the visitor is in control.
Make the visitor feel appreciated The web allows you to provide your visitors with all kinds of useful information at minimal cost to you. This information, if properly used, can make them feel knowledgeable, powerful, and understood.
“Even if your website can answer the ‘do you have what I want?’ question in the affirmative, you still have to get past the ‘should I get it from you?’ hurdle.” and begin envisioning themselves making the purchase.
Step 4: Action Desire and action are not really distinct stages but, rather, a continuing give-andtake. Increasing desire pulls your visitors successively through larger steps toward the ultimate conversion goal. Each of these steps is, in itself, an action. After each action, we build on its momentum to create enough desire to jump to the next level of action and commitment. Even if your website can answer the ‘do you have what I want?’ question in the affirmative, you still have to get past the ‘should I get it from you?’ hurdle. Some additional desire is usually needed to propel us through the ultimate conversion transaction. The rules of web action are: ● Get out of the visitor’s way. ● Make it easy for the visitor. ● Don’t surprise the visitor.
Get out of their way Make the visitor feel safe The web is a scary place and your landing page or website is often a total stranger to your visitors. You must do everything you can to help them get to know you better. It is important to be completely open, honest and transparent. You must also do everything in your power to alleviate their fears by transferring credibility from others in the form of testimonials, awards and trust symbols.
Understand that the visitor is in control Visitors should be able to dictate the terms of the relationship with you. This includes the timescale of the interaction, the order in which things get done, the option to stay anonymous for as long as possible and the ability to look for information in whatever format is easiest and most appropriate for them. In the decision stage, your visitors may engage in research, review alternative products or services, gather more details
Once your visitors are considering taking action, the worst thing you could do is redirect their focus on unnecessary tasks or distractions. One of the most egregious is making them register before checking out. Even seemingly minor transactional friction, such as filling out the email and password, may significantly lower your conversion rates.
Eliminate surprises Some examples of unwelcome surprises include: ● Introducing pop-ups. ● Making peripheral or unrelated special offers. ● Including extra terms and conditions. ● Asking for information in a non-standard order. ● Not warning people about the supporting information that they will need to have on hand in order to complete the transaction. ● Not specifying all acceptable payment methods up-front. ● Using non-standard or unclear text captions on your buttons. It’s important to remember that, even when you carefully walk your visitors through each step of the decision making process, they will not all act at this stage. They may not be able to afford your product. They may want to continue their search for alternatives. They may need the approval of another person (such as a coworker or spouse). They may not have the proper payment method, or the necessary supporting information to complete the transaction. But for those who are ready, you will surely see a higher rate of conversion when you understand how to leverage the AIDA principles to make your website understand and support the needs of your visitors at every stage.
Make it easy for the visitor Make the user experience as easy as possible by removing choices and the transaction process. An easy way to do this is to change the navigation information available on the page. The main menu that is used during the earlier stages of the decision process is no longer applicable during the action stage. Forms should also be ruthlessly edited. A long and imposing form will turn many people away. Clarify forms with a headline or description, organise form fields into logical groups, and most important, minimise the number and complexity of form input fields.
TIM ASH is the President and CEO of SiteTuners, a landing page optimization firm that offers consulting, fullservice guaranteed-improvement tests and state-of-the-art software tools to improve conversion rates. He is the author of the bestselling book Landing Page Optimization: The Definitive Guide to Testing and Tuning for Conversions (John Wiley & Sons Press, 2008) LandingPageOptimizationBook.com. Tim can be reached by email at tim@SiteTuners.com.
iGB Affiliate APRIL/MAY 2011
Liat Fuchs, Marketing Director at AffiliatePLY.com, assesses the current statistics with regards to online video consumption to provide affiliates with an insight into this growing area of opportunity. Online video has grown impressively over the past few years. Indeed, 2007 saw a growth rate of over 39 percent while in 2008, this increased to upwards of 46 percent. However, the real explosion occurred in 2009, when year-over-year growth hit a remarkable 124 percent, accounting for over 18.4 billion views. Currently, online video has over 80
percent penetrate rate among Internet users in the UK and US. Delving further into this data, we can see that a daily average of more than 88.6 million people watched online video in December 2010, which was up 32 percent from December 2009, while viewing sessions totalled 5.8 billion for the month (up 13 percent). Americans also spent
a significantly higher number of hours viewing online video in 2010 versus the prior year, primarily due to increased content consumption and more video ad streams. The world of online video has also seen a continued increase in the adoption of media content that was originally scripted for TV. This strongly growing market
Online video reach among Internet users in the UK, US and Japan Online Video from a PC/Mac: Reach among Internet users in UK, US and Japan
n Online Video viewers n Non-Viewers (Source: comScore Video Metrix, October 2010)
Online Video is BIG â€“ 80%+ penetration among Internet uders in UK & US
Video Vs display: more effective with fewer exposures: UK .FOX Online Vio case study Absolute Percentage Point Lift in SIte Visitation Exposed Group v.s Control display ONLY
video ONLY 4.3%
Campaign Breakout: Video Only: Financial Display only: Travel, Utilities & Public Sector (Source: comScore .FOX UK study, 2010)
iGB Affiliate april/may 2011
represents one of the most significant opportunities for advertisers, as it generates both high engagement from viewers and high CPMs (Cost per thousand impressions) for publishers. Video has a more immediate effect than display ads (measured on site visitation after exposure) and creates a more personal and active interaction between a business and its customers. People are familiar with video from the TV world. For example, ‘as seen on TV’ is moving to the online arena, and converting TV ads to video ads that are presented online, so the video becomes a substantial part of the sale. It keeps both the advertisers and the publishers in the game and gives you an advantage versus your competition. People want fast and easy information. It has high engagement, so the CTR and the conversion into sale are much higher than those of display ads. A recent study conducted by the Online Publishers Association, found that 69 percent of online users have watched a video online, and 24 percent do so at least once a week. Out of that 69 percent, it
was found that 66 percent have viewed an online video ad, with 40 percent of those visiting a website mentioned in the video ad, and 15 percent requesting product information. This sale can be yours! Some points to think about: ●●Online video and video ads capture the attention of users. ●●Online video ads generate higher CTRs and conversion rates. ●●They invite clicks and action resulting in higher eCPM (effective cost per thousand impressions) and revenues. ●●Video content engages your users and increases time spent on the site. ●●Online video improves SEO and page rank (video was found to be 53 times more likely to appear on the first page of a search result than a standard text page).
Summary Online video viewing continues to account for an increasing amount of consumers’ time online as content options, quality and convenience drive people to this channel. Video ads will continue to offer advertisers
and publishers an engaging venue to reach their target audience and will be an important aspect of the development of the online video industry. In 2011, look for cross media relationships to take centre stage as the convergence of traditional TV and online video viewing continues to blur the lines between media channels.
Liat Fuchs is a Marketing Director at AffiliatePLY.com, a global video-based advertising network that specialises in video monetisation and video ads. Liat has been working in the online marketing, advertising and affiliate industry since 2005. She has a deep understanding of the affiliate’s work, needs and expectations, and has experience with all the aspects of the online advertising and marketing industry (media buying, SEO, PPC, social and viral marketing). Liat holds a BA Degree in Political Science and East Asia Studies from Tel Aviv University, and an MBA with a marketing orientation.
iGB Affiliate april/may 2011
…Going back to my roots (yeah). MOST ARTICLES in this magazine will help you become smarter marketers. This one won’t. Or maybe it will, indirectly, as there is no smartness without a sense of context. Close that spreadsheet you’re working on, grab a coffee, sit back and join me on a trip down memory lane, back to our roots, back to the origins of online affiliate marketing.
asked CDNOW to build a system whereby CDNOW would handle orders and provide tracking links to external websites listing the albums. The BuyWeb affiliate program was born shortly after that. A few other companies, including Autoweb, KBKids/KB Toys’ and Epage, also started offering affiliate services between 1994 and 1996.
The founding father?
You’ve probably heard the anecdote: at a cocktail party, Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, was chatting with a woman who wanted to sell books about divorce on her website. Following that exchange, he thought about tracking hyperlinks to allow her to link to Amazon.com and get a commission on the book sales she would help drive. In July 1996, the Amazon.com Associates Program was born, and along with it, the industry we’re all living from. Case closed… or is it?
Before patents existed, intellectual property meant nothing. The man who invented the wheel got nothing out of it. No luxury cave dwelling, no racing mammoth, nothing. He probably jumped under his own invention out of frustration. Luckily, by the mid 1990s, things had changed. According to the US patent office, a William J Tobin applied for a patent on tracking/affiliate marketing in January 1996, six months before Amazon filed its own. Four years later, Tobin was issued US Patent number 6,141,666 for his trouble (now we know how Einstein found time to formulate the special theory of relativity while employed as a clerk at a Swiss Patent office). Mr Tobin, founder of PC Flowers & Gifts, is widely credited with conceiving, implementing and patenting the online affiliate marketing model. It was first launched under the Prodigy online service in 1989 and migrated to the web in 1993. That year, PC Flowers & Gifts generated sales over $6 million dollars on the Prodigy service alone.
The unsung heroes While there’s little doubt Amazon did it bigger and better than anyone else, thus, creating a template for the industry, a handful of websites were already offering affiliate services before 1996. Online marketing being heavily indebted to the adult industry for so many technological advances, it’s no surprise that Cybererotica, an aptly named provider of adult content, is listed among the first companies to run an affiliate scheme. It launched its CPC program as early as 1994, two years before Amazon set up shop. That same year, Geffen records, a music label, met up with CDNOW to discuss advertising CDs on external websites. Geffen didn’t want to implement e-commerce functionalities on its site, and
And that’s that. “How can I pay a tribute to my peers for creating this industry?” I hear you say, as the mist of nostalgia slowly dispels. Simple: go online and buy your mum a bunch of flowers.
PIERRICK LEVEQUE is Head of Acquisition at Virgin Games, managing the homegrown affiliate program as part of the overall customer acquisition strategy. “Affiliate Program of the Year” EGR Awards 2010 and 2009; “Best Casino/ Gaming Affiliate Program” A4U Awards 2008; “Best Bingo Affiliate Manager” CAP/IGB Awards 2009. W: www.virgingames.com/affiliates E: firstname.lastname@example.org B: www.pierrickprk.wordpress.com T: (+44) 208 237 1563
iGB Affiliate APRIL/MAY 2011
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AFFILIATE LANDING PAGES THAT CONVERT Most operators will offer affiliates dedicated landing pages. The general idea is that focused landing pages will convert better than sending the visitor to the home page or a product page, but there are a number of pitfalls that easily get in the way. This article will walk you through some of the key factors of landing pages that convert, as well as some of the most common mistakes. THE DESIGN of operator landing pages is extremely important to the affiliate’s success. Even though this is a task that falls on the operator, affiliates should have a thorough understanding of the choices involved in order to better appreciate which pages and sites will convert, which won’t and why. Let’s start with understanding what a Landing Page is. It’s a page that: ● Is focused on a single conversion goal. ● Is ‘stand-alone’ in the sense that it normally lacks the global navigation of the site, so it’s really a ‘page’ and not a ‘site’. ● Is targeted towards a segment of visitors coming from a particular affiliate or campaign. By creating a page that is hyper-focused, you will leave the visitor no other option than to perform the conversion action, improving the conversion rate.
Or, too much too soon? The landing page approach is considered ‘best practice’ and normally outperforms home page alternatives in split testing. The downside is that it gives visitors one option only. If they are not ready to perform the desired conversion action, drop-offs will be huge. User research clearly shows that if you ask a user to make a commitment
and the user feels that he or she doesn’t have enough information to base that commitment on, then they have one preferred method of dealing with that situation. It’s called the ‘back button’. So the overall challenge in landing page design is to create a page that is both clearly focused on the conversion goal and provides enough assurance, sample content and trust factors in order to make the visitor comfortable enough commit to the conversion action.
The solution: the mixed landing page If you’re asking yourself, ‘should we go with the landing page or the home page alternative?’, you’re looking in the wrong direction. It’s actually quite simple. Instead of making it ‘either/or’ make it ‘a bit of both’. A landing page in this context should be designed to clearly indicate the preferred action you want the user to take. In addition to this, there must be ‘escape routes’ so that the visitor feels he or she is in control and that the visitor will be able to find the additional information he or she needs in order to commit. The advantage of this approach is that you get ‘the best of both worlds’ – a focused, targeted offer plus the ability to let the visitors browse on their own and gather enough knowledge in order to be able to commit.
Key components of an affiliate landing page The first aspect of a landing page is ‘relevancy’. The tighter a bond you can create between what the visitor expected when clicking and what you deliver, the better. So, if a visitor has clicked on a casino bonus banner, you want the user to land on a page that is (1) casino-focused and (2) displays the bonus prominently. This first impression basically gives the visitor a feeling of ‘Yes, I’ve come to the right place’. If you cannot establish this basic level of relevancy, you haven’t even gotten off the ground in terms of conversion rate optimisation. Conversion rate experts call this factor ‘scent’ – think of your visitor like a blood hound who’s on a fresh trail. You must NEVER let your newly found canine friend get the feeling that he’s lost the trail. If he does, it means he’ll head back to wherever he came from and start going down another trail (to a competitor). If the operator at hand is a big trusted online gaming brand, many visitors will feel comfortable with ‘going with the flow’, and they feel assured that the site will be able to deliver a fun and safe gaming experience. But the smaller the operator is, the more they will need to show, explain and convince in order to get that registration. This uncertainty can even be seen on the
iGB Affiliate APRIL/MAY 2011
“I often fell victim to my own creativity and wrote witty calls-to-action which, in hindsight, just confused the users. Over time, we found that concise and descriptive calls-to-action worked much better than creative ones.”
product level. A well-known and trusted betting brand might have to do a fair bit of work in convincing prospects that their casino is worth considering.
Getting the registration: what do you need? Let’s say you did a good job at maintaining the scent and establishing relevancy – now what? First of all, you need a clearly distinguishable call-to-action. It should be seen above-the-fold on the page and have visual contrast so that it stands out. Secondly, it should have a relevant callto-action. If you’re sending prospects to a registration form, DO NOT have a button saying ‘play now’. This will put visitors off since the page you serve will not meet their expectations. When I was a Casino Manager at CasinoEuro (part of Betsson), I often fell victim to my own creativity and wrote witty calls-to-action which, in hindsight, just confused the users. Over time, we found that concise and descriptive calls-toaction worked much better than creative ones. If the user is not ready to make the commitment you should display supporting content such as: ● Being able to sample and play games in ‘for fun’ mode ● Size of jackpots ● Winner testimonials ● Trust logos Defining the best mix in acquiring the registration, allowing escape routes and learning more options, can only be found by using split testing methods. After the registration: what now? One of the most important pages on a gambling site is the post-registration page. At CasinoEuro, we called it the ‘deposit push page’, which describes the job this
page must perform. How you craft and test this page will be crucial to your conversion rate. Unfortunately, this is one of the more overlooked areas of a gambling website. Whereas the home page is subjected to immense design and redesign efforts, the post-registration page often looks like it’s been hastily assembled by some design agnostics in the IT department. At CasinoEuro, we put a lot of effort into the design of this page. The most important component was a clear call-to-action which reiterated the promised bonus and encouraged instant deposit. Something like: ‘Here’s the bonus you came for in the first place, deposit right now and you’ll get it, otherwise it might be gone when you come back’, but shorter, of course. Typical mistakes on this page are: ● The ‘Smörgåsbord’ approach: - ‘here’s a bunch of stuff you can do, we don’t care which one’. ● The opposite to that – just a plain payment page with no reminder about the offer/bonuses and no ‘escape routes’. ● Failure to display a correct bonus/offer which is specific and tied to the visitors expectations. Let me elaborate on the third point. The user has come to your site because of a specific offer, is now considering depositing and wants to feel reassured that the bonus will be delivered upon depositing. To quote usability guru, Steve Krug, “Don’t make me think”. There shouldn’t be a single opportunity for even the smallest hesitation on the part of the visitor. At CasinoEuro, I put so much effort into just securing the correct terminology. If the affiliate banner advertised a €100 welcome bonus, I’d personally go through the whole registration/deposit flow to make sure that this bonus was called just that, and
not ‘registration bonus’, ‘deposit bonus’ or anything else. Unfortunately, I see a lot of operators missing conversions just because of sloppy copywriting and lack of understanding of transactional assurance factors.
Where do we start testing? All of what I’ve written so far provides general recommendations. If you want to find out what works for you there’s only one way to find out: start split testing. The end goal is to optimise the whole conversion funnel from start to finish. If you are not in control of that funnel or just not ready, start with some easier experiments: ● Split test the landing page Vs the home or product page. ● Test calls-to-action on the landing page: ‘play now’ Vs ‘register’ Vs ‘sign up’ Vs ‘claim bonus’, etc. ● Test which combination of ‘escape routes’ is the most effective. These are just examples of things that are easy to change but can have a huge impact on conversion rates. Considering how cheap and user-friendly testing technology is today, there really is no excuse for not getting into landing page testing.
JOHN EKMAN is the Founder and CEO of Conversionista!, the leading conversion consulting company in Sweden. You will find inspiration about Conversion Rate Optimisation on Johns’ blog at www.conversionista. com. According to John, a Conversionista is someone deeply and crazily passionate about improving conversion rates. John previously held senior management positions at Net Entertainment and Betsson.
iGB Affiliate APRIL/MAY 2011
Google’s new Panda update (or ‘Farmer’ if you’re a webmaster) is squarely in the crosshair of our trusted columnist, Dominique, this month, as the Games and Casino founder runs the rule over the latest algorithmic development from the search giant. The buzz is on about the new Google update – named ‘Panda’ by Google, nicknamed ‘Farmer’ by webmasters. It was first implemented in the US, and by the time you read this, it is also likely to be live in the UK. It all started with an announcement in the Google Blog: Posted by Amit Singhal, Google Fellow, and Matt Cutts, Principal Engineer: “...in the last day or so we launched a pretty big algorithmic improvement to our ranking – a change that noticeably impacts 11.8% of our queries – and we wanted to let people know what’s going on. This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites – sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites – sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.” In an interview with Wired.com, we find Matt Cutts and Amit Singhal further explaining the development. “Singhal: ‘So we did Caffeine [a major update that improved Google’s indexing process] in late 2009. Our index grew so quickly, and we were just crawling at a much faster speed. When that happened, we basically got a lot of good fresh content, and some not so good. The problem had shifted from random gibberish, which the spam team had nicely taken care of, into somewhat more like written prose. But the content was shallow’.” “Matt Cutts: ‘It was like, ‘What’s the bare minimum that I can do that’s not spam?’ It sort of fell between our respective groups. And then we decided, ‘okay, we’ve got to come together and figure out how to address this’.” In addition to this, Google’s Wysz posted in Google Webmaster Help: “If you believe you’ve been impacted by this change you should evaluate all the content on your site and do your best to improve the overall quality of the pages on your domain. Removing low quality pages or moving them to a different domain could help your rankings for the higher quality content.”
Google’s JohnMu (John Mueller) gave very similar advice: “If you do have such high-quality, unique and compelling content, I’d recommend separating it from the auto-generated rest of the site, and making sure that the auto-generated part is blocked from crawling and indexing, so that search engines can focus on what makes your site unique and valuable to users world-wide.” What you don’t hear a lot about from Google is that this update also goes after copied content. In January, prior to the update release, Matt Cutts said that Google was “evaluating multiple changes that should help drive spam levels even lower, including one change that primarily affects sites that copy others’ content and sites with low levels of original content.” A few weeks later, Panda/Farmer made its debut. So we can assume that it also targets duplicate content and copied content. This, of course, is something most webmasters welcome with open arms. Content thieves are a never ending nuisance; let’s hope this new algorithm puts them out of business.
Article marketing So what do you do if you have relied heavily on article marketing? Looks like a lot of the directories are pretty much worthless now. The days of creating cheap content for a link and some traffic are over. Autoblogs, $3 articles and non-informative basic overwiews of a broad topic are not going to help you anymore. To get links, you will need to create high quality content with images and even video and find niche websites that will display the content after serious editorial review. Article marketing is not dead; quality articles on quality sites will still be beneficial. What is ‘dead’ is the type of article that has no value to readers and the sites that accept such articles. Consequently, links from these places are also useless. To see whether this has hurt you, read on.
How to check if you were affected: Wordtracker.com published a survival guide. To see if you were affected, Wordtracker suggests you follow these steps:
●● 1. Go to your Google analytics dashboard. ●● 2. Check the graph, but even if all looks
well, go to the next steps to make sure. ●● 3. Go to the Search Engines report in
the Traffic Sources menu, and there you choose ‘non-paid’. ●● 4. Now click on ‘Google’. ●● 5. Click the ‘Keyword’ column heading above the list of keywords. ●● 6. On the large sub menu, click ‘Country/Territory’. ●● 7. Now enter ‘United States’, or alternately, if the algorithm has been rolled out in the UK by the time you see this, ‘United Kingdom’ into the filter. ●● 8. Find the 24th of February on the resulting graph. Do you see a dip? Ouch! Wordtracker also has a series of suggested steps to help you get out from under that Panda. These are some of the ones most likely to help: ●● Find the pages and page types hit worst on your site. ●●Isolate differences between those hit and those not. ●●Make a list of your different types of pages, for example, forum, quality article, low quality article, light category, quality category, product, blog post, etc. Put the list in a column in a spreadsheet and start building a table. ●● Add columns for relevant factors like ‘lots of ads’, little content, some dupe, all dupe, etc, and also number of pages and percentage drop in Google US organic visits. Fill in the values for each type of page. ●● Look at how much of your site (percentage of pages) is taken up by your lowest quality pages and improve that. ●● If you have lots of pages that dupe your own copy (e.g., as happens with some content management systems and on a lot of ecommerce sites that build new URLs for ‘faceted’ pages) then add ‘rel=canonical’ tags to the ‘duped’ pages. This stops Google seeing those pages as dupes. ●● Edit any ‘over-optimised’ pages. ●● Improve anything that might make the user’s experience better. ●● Offer users more when they first enter
iGB Affiliate april/may 2011
a page, for example, images, videos, attractive text and pages linking to your best, related editorial content. ●● Make as many of these changes as you can at once in the hope of shaking off the penalty quickly. With editorial content improving, you can then add back any marketing you are missing, in steps, checking to see you don’t get slapped again.
This, of course, only helps if some of your pages are affected, and others are fine. If your whole site is tanked, you’ll just have to figure out what all the offensive parts are and replace them with quality content.
So then who was adversely affected by this? Barry Schwartz from SEO Roundtable says: “I ran a poll about five days after Farmer/Panda was rolled out asking ‘how did this update impact you?’ We’ve had 313 responses to date, which isn’t a bad sampling size. Of course, you have to consider those who were impacted are more likely to respond, but anyway, let me share the results with you. ●● 40% said Less Google Traffic (Negative Impact) (128)
Visibility Index Loss
●● 25% said Same Google Traffic (No
Impact) (80) ●● 18% said More Google Traffic (Positive Impact) (56) ●● 14% said Don’t Know Yet (44) ●● 1.6% gave Another Answer... (5)”
The biggest losers Sixtrix published figures of the hardest hit sites, and Search Engine Land published an easy to understand version. Table 1 shows the ten hardest hit sites: Personally, I am happy to see this
update. Content thieves… who needs them? Good riddance I say! As far as the article marketing goes, I don’t see why thoughtless gibberish should rank as well as quality, researched, unique articles anyway. Why should some of us work hard while the rest coasts on what is mostly BS? If people would put the time they spend coming up with ways to game Google towards creating quality, I think they would do a lot better anyway. (Ok, SEO guys, you can beat me up now.)
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With ever growing Internet penetration rates, higher yearly online operator profits and emerging markets becoming more Internet savvy, an online marketer can easily forget about offline marketing as the urge to increase their online revenues assumes that ever-growing tunnel vision that online results only come from online marketing. There is no argument against achieving results for your Internet business from online marketing alone, but there is a valid argument for converging both offline and online efforts in order to maximise profits and results. The use of offline marketing can help to engineer a better presence in both consumer and business-digital relations, and marketers who understand this complete marketing strategy will profit over those that don’t.
Consumer-digital In terms of building better consumerdigital results, there are many ways to increase online consumer affinity via offline marketing techniques. Some of the best examples used by offline companies include hiring agents to place ‘no deposit’ coupons at local offline gambling establishments such as bingo halls, poker rooms and even casinos in an effort to invite players to try their luck online. Other examples can be seen in the ever-growing presence of TV commercials for online gaming products, public transport advertising and even taking popular television game shows like X Factor and placing them in an online gambling environment (branded gaming). The reason that the aforementioned marketing campaigns have been successful is that the marketer can not only increase player affinity, they can seal that affinity by physically ‘touching’ the consumer at a time when he/she is outside of the digital arena. This pre-planned and predetermined offline contact addresses the consumer in a state where their thought process and rational are not being stimulated by online activities, thus, when the consumer returns to the online environment and arrives at
the marketer’s target, they subconsciously have a deeper level of relationship with the target brand than if they came across it solely online.
Business-digital Offline marketing can also make a huge difference in the business-digital world. In the ever-competitive online business environment, there is still a need for eyeto-eye contact, corporate meetings and attendance at social gatherings (such as conventions and expos) to get one’s foot
raffles for those potential business partners who visited a marketers brand’s booth (the raffle being drawn upon the user visiting the affiliate site and, thus, aiding the process of acquiring a potential affiliate). Affiliate programs have even handed out branded debit cards to help affiliates attain their hard-earned commissions in a simpler way. From the hand of the affiliate manager to the hand of the affiliate, trust is laid down for an online business partnership. David Ogilvy (the late advertising guru) once said, “Every advertisement should be
“The use of offline marketing can help to engineer a better presence in both consumer and business-digital relations, and marketers who understand this complete marketing strategy will profit over those that don’t.” in the door – because, if you are not there taking advantage of business opportunities, your competitors will be. One of the best examples of this combination of offline and online strategies in attaining business partners can be found in the iGaming affiliate world. The average affiliate program spends a significant amount of time and money in order to claim their territory in affiliate real estate. After all the emails, telephone calls, Skype conversations, acquisitions and commissions earned, there is still an underlying need for both affiliates and their affiliate managers to meet eyeto-eye, shake hands, drink a beer and, as mentioned before, seal the affinity and trust in the business relationship. The use of offline marketing in B2B communication in the business-digital environment also encompasses the use of
thought of as a contribution to the complex symbol which is the brand image”. This said, there is no doubt that companies who use both online and offline advertising methods will enjoy the fruits of their labour as, at the end of the day, consumers all need to voyage out of the cyber realm that they inhabit. Should a marketer be smart and calculated enough to catch the consumer when they least expect it, as well as interacting with them, they will increase the brand’s presence, image, revenue and, ultimately, the brand’s personality.
Joshua Krimberg is currently the affiliate director for AffStars.com, and has over six years of marketing experience in the online gaming industry
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Show Me the Money Metrics! If you’re an iGaming affiliate that is consistently earning income, chances are you are doing something right with your business. Conversely, if you’re not earning money in affiliate marketing or are falling short on your income goals, the question remains: what are you doing wrong?
The answer to this question is vital, not only to your long-term success as an affiliate, but also to your ability to increase your earnings and, ultimately, make more money. Information is your gateway to improved marketing campaigns, a better understanding and recruitment of players, the ability to focus on what works best for your business and, most importantly, avoiding costly mistakes. Leveraging information is important to your growth as an affiliate and it’s also the key to improved relationships with your affiliate programs. Information speaks louder than monthly earnings when it comes to negotiating bonuses and higher commission structures. In this piece, we’ll explore some strategies for creating a strong marketing mix, how to evaluate which methods work best (and worst) for you and then, how to leverage that information to become an even more successful affiliate.
Invest in a varied marketing mix You’ve heard the adage: ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket’, and the same is true for your marketing mix. Your marketing strategy for your affiliate business should combine a careful mix of online and offline campaigns that work in harmony to promote your site and the brands/products that you advertise. As the online arena expands, so do your options, so choice now goes far beyond simple banners on your website to include a much broader range of campaigns. Popular online marketing campaign options in the iGaming industry include email campaigns, PPC ads, social networking, search, blogs and tenancy deals, just to name a few. And while the goal is to bring people online, including your exposure offline is equally important. Your local newspaper, industry magazines, radio, TV, billboards and other direct mail pieces can
be very effective, especially when you can target a specific audience. One of the most important reasons to have a varied marketing mix is because you have a varied group of customers that you are targeting. Your players are as different as the games they play, and the unique gaming features that excite them to play in the first place. Ideally, you will be segmenting your target market so you are able to cater to different needs, preferences, age brackets, genders and behaviours. You may be a poker affiliate, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that all poker players will be interested in what you have to offer. Are you targeting advanced players, newbies, frequent players, social players or high bettors? Once you’ve segmented your target audience, you will be more adept at choosing the right medium, copy, design and landing page that best answers those specific needs and, as an ultimate goal, increases your conversions.
Measurability = profitability Creating successful marketing campaigns that are targeted towards growth is based on the ease with which you can leverage analytical information and turn statistics into strategic business decisions. Without evaluating your budget, a desired marketing campaign with no advanced planning may cost you thousands. No smart business wants to waste that kind of money. The right formula looks more like: track and measure to (a) tweak (b) repeat or (c) drop. Having one platform that showcases your affiliate activity alongside your online and offline campaigns allows you to begin to see how your marketing endeavours are positively (i.e. you have a lucrative ROI) or negatively (i.e. you have a small ROI or worse, a negative one) affecting your business.
iGB Affiliate april/may 2011
To truly understand your marketing campaigns, it’s a good idea to set up your metrics in a way that allows you to measure your performance on a large scale and, from there, allows you to drill down to see the microcosm of the full picture. For example, this may mean you look at your software analytics and see that online campaigns are more effective for your business than offline campaigns. From there, you can compare all your online campaigns to see which are specifically delivering the highest performance. Based on this information you can see, for example, that PPC ads offer you the greatest bang for your buck. Now that you know that, start testing your PPC ads with different keywords to see if this has any effect on clicks and conversions. Do the same with your graphics and copy to test out the best formula. Here’s one more example: you look at your marketing campaigns from last month, where you invested in a number of different magazine ad spots. When you set up your campaigns, you strategically used different bonus codes, each one representing a different magazine. Now you’re ready to compare apples to apples and when next month comes along and you’re ready to reinvest, you’ll know exactly where to turn (and where not to).
Leverage your information When you set up your affiliate business with the goal of gaining valuable information, as opposed to just high earnings, you are creating an infrastructure for success. Information will provide you with direction, and it will also give you confidence. Knowing, without hesitation, that your marketing spend is providing you with a strong ROI is powerful. When decisions are done in the dark, that’s when costly mistakes can be made and
valuable time, lost. Once you’ve determined a specific campaign that works well for you, your online and offline marketing information will also help you evaluate the kind of players you are attracting. Are your players promotion hunters and/or infrequent players? Are they from a specific country or region? Do they provide you with a steady stream of income or is their expertise too high? Knowing your players allows you to better meet their needs and expectations, and by using rotating banners, for example, you can more successfully engage your players, simply because you know them better. Information can also help you increase the quality of your relationships with your affiliate programs, and enable you to negotiate new deals, bonuses and higher commissions. Information allows you to do so from a point of strength. You can demonstrate the quality of your players, your consistency as an affiliate and the overall value that you bring to the program. A quick screenshot of your stats and performance over a six-month period can be far more effective than your earnings in one month – even if they are high. For affiliates who are just starting out, when you can show that you are demonstrating growth, it speaks volumes in terms of your potential. Affiliate managers are always on the lookout for new affiliates who are dedicated to their business, and are eager to invest time and training to help them reach their potential. At the end of the day, it’s so important to know your business and, most importantly, what works and doesn’t work for you. Business intelligence allows you to become a savvier affiliate, making strong investments that help to move your business forward. Too many affiliates base the success of their business on money earned – I say, show me the metrics!
“Without evaluating your budget, a desired marketing campaign with no advanced planning may cost you thousands. No smart business wants to waste that kind of money.”
“Your marketing strategy for your affiliate business should combine a careful mix of online and offline campaigns that work in harmony to promote your site and the brands/ products that you advertise.”
nicKy SenyArD is ceo of income Access, overseeing their independent iGaming afﬁliate network, market-leading afﬁliate software and expert afﬁliate management services.
iGB Affiliate april/may 2011
Each newly pursued enterprise comes with a set of guidelines that, when adhered to, helps to ensure one remains competitive, successful and confident in their endeavours. To none does this apply more than the new generation of young and ambitious goal-setters trying to map out a course for themselves in affiliate marketing.
Bristling with brash new ideas that could revolutionise their respective fields and professions, this new generation must also remember to remain grounded and mindful of the knowledge possessed by those that came before. All the zeal and desire in the world does not change the fact that, at the core, they are still students. It is for this reason that the business of being an affiliate requires a suitably studious approach.
Find a mentor Everyone benefits from the tutelage of those experienced and willing enough to offer guidance. Consider how many inventions might never have come to fruition had there not been someone in the background to supply the necessary support and encouragement to their creators. It is not unreasonable to suggest that, had it not been for several other prominent figures in his life, Alexander Graham Bell might never have become the man who invented the telephone. In other words, take the time to speak to someone, or several ‘someones’, who can offer valuable industry insight. Choosing to ignore this veritable banquet of knowledge may result in both immediate and future struggles when trying to communicate to your target audience and markets. Although your campaigns could turn a profit without any form of mentoring, they will never be assured of reaching their full potential unless you swallow your pride and ask someone who knows better than you. The most important thing to remember is that you are not supposed to know everything. If you are just coming out of school, you are not too far removed from the reluctance of raising your hand to ask
what you fear might be perceived as a stupid question. Just remember: there are no stupid questions.
Be humble You know that you don’t know everything after six months on the job but, of course, admitting this is far easier said than done. The good news is that if you have already followed the first step and found yourself a mentor, then you are on the right track. The important thing now is to stay on it. Once you have gone through the initial mentoring stage, you need to remember that you are, by no means, a hardened veteran of the affiliate industry. Just as no one is qualified to perform open-heart surgery the first day out of medical school, as an affiliate, there is still a way to go before becoming the best, most successful version of yourself. But you are getting closer. Being humble also means not thinking that you are above the community now available to you. You have received some top-notch mentoring from someone you respect but now is the time to get to know some of your peers. Think of it as pursuing an education where your mentor is the teacher and everyone out on the forums are your fellow students. Don’t be an introverted affiliate who eats lunch at their locker, get out there and socialise.
Stay focused Unlike cooking classes, workout programmes or learning a new language, pursuing success as an affiliate is more than just a hobby; at least it certainly has the potential to be. For best results, your campaign should be afforded a longer lifetime than the typical New Year’s resolution.
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Too often, students hit a proverbial wall in their studies. This is due to everything from stress, adoption of a party lifestyle or a sheer lack of motivation. These could all apply to an affiliate and the management of their campaigns – and they would all make perfect sense. As a younger affiliate, you may have enjoyed your progress of being mentored by older, wiser and more experienced members of the community. Hopefully, you have also started to engage the community and are even beginning to enjoy a certain degree of success. With all the progress that you have made, the key is to remember the reason why you got into the industry in the first place and stay focused.
Respect the possibilities Once you have achieved success as a profitable, confident and highly focused young affiliate, the next step is to acknowledge the potential that your new found status affords you. Anyone new to an industry as dynamic as affiliate marketing, needs to appreciate that the experience gained in the field can translate into a more lucrative management of forthcoming business ventures as well as one’s own personal life. The networking skills that you will develop alone will teach you to be better at building and maintaining relationships in all aspects of life. If you are a younger member of the community, then it is likely that you are already well-versed in the importance of sound networking strategies and how to take advantage of social media tools such as Facebook, LinkedIn and message boards. These tools have become integral in the evolution of corporate culture in the 21st Century.
“The most important thing to remember is that you are not supposed to know everything. If you are just coming out of school, you are not too far removed from the reluctance of raising your hand to ask what you fear might be perceived as a stupid question… there are no stupid questions.” Furthermore, your potential for countless interactions will provide you with an opportunity to learn what else is out there for you to take advantage of. Whether it be making contacts with future business partners, gaining knowledge of the industry from an operator’s perspective or, perhaps, another route that you had not considered before, the resources are now available for you to grow and branch out should you so choose.
Diversify your portfolio It may be a worn-out cliché, but if variety is the spice of life, then why shouldn’t the same cliché apply to your affiliate program? Hopefully, you have been taking advantage of the communicative tools available to you because it is these tools that are going to provide you with access to new ideas and strategies to drive successful campaigns. Whether it is looking at using different types of creatives on your sites, negotiating different commission structures or reconsidering the branding of your site as a whole, it is important that you never feel afraid to experiment. The question has been asked whether ‘Generation Y’ is the next great generation or whether it just thinks it is. The tone of this query has a lot to do with the fact that younger people today place a lofty premium
on their individualism and being unique. There is no reason that this philosophy should not translate into the way you manage your business. By daring to be unique and memorable you drastically increase your potential for standing out from the crowd. Even if you are already successful, there is always room for improvement in such areas as the management of your search engine optimisation and methods for attracting potential players to your site. It could even start with something as simple as choosing a distinct and memorable domain name. As you grow into a mature and wellweathered affiliate, you will eventually see yourself taking over the role of mentor to other young affiliates. Following the steps that have been laid out above will ensure not only your own continued success as an affiliate but also your status as a well-respected member of the community. Justin Way is an Account Manager at Income Access. In this role, Justin assists with the integration and training of new clients, as well as providing support on a daily basis to an existing roster of partners.
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Welcome to the MarketPlace listings section in iGB Affiliate Magazine. All Listings below are from our iGB Affiliate Directory 2011 which is a 150 page directory of affiliate programs and services companies specifically for affiliates from translation toÂ SEOÂ services. To request a free copy of this publication or to have your company listed please contact Richard W on E: Richard@iGamingBusiness.com or T: +44 (0) 207 954 3437
advertising & PR
Rich Club Affiliates
Bingo Affiliate Programs
Content & Translation
Casino Affiliate Programs
Grande Vegas Affiliates
Jackpot Capital www.jackpotcapital.com/affiliates
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Moniker & SnapNames
search marketing (organic)
Hosting & Managed services
Moniker & SnapNames
Moniker & SnapNames
search marketing (paid)
poker affiliate programs
Moniker & SnapNames
sKIll gaming affiliate
Moniker & SnapNames
iGB Affiliate APRIL/MAY 2011
ASK CONNIE In the first part of the new ‘Ask Connie’ Q&A series, Connie Burstin, Founder of Burstin Marketing Group, explores the psychology of colour use on websites and how gaming operations can be perceived by the colours they chose to represent their brands. The questions this month come from ‘2iventures’.
2iventures: Can you explain the psychological effects that using specific colours like red, green, blue and yellow has on consumers when used on websites? I know ‘marketologists’ heavily rely on it in (physical) supermarkets like Tesco and Wal-Mart but often, it is used incorrectly online. Connie: Colours have a significant impact on people’s perception of a brand and on how they see things, whether in land-based retail or on a website. In retail, for example, red is generally related to items that are on sale. In the online space, things are a little different as colours are first chosen by the designers based on the theme of the website and how friendly these colours and colour combinations are on the eye.
“Colours have a significant impact on people’s perception of a brand and on how they see things, whether in land-based retail or on a website.” 2iventures: You know how they often use red and yellow in supermarkets for price tags and discounts, or how certain colours/ designs appeal to certain age groups? Well, considering that gaming’s biggest age group (in the US, for example) is the baby boomer generation, then websites should be styled accordingly – even though that generation is about to run out of money and go bankrupt! Connie: I can be more specific for the gambling industry. Red is more of a ‘passion colour’; it exudes excitement, impulse and adrenalin, and those are the reactions and emotions an online casino is targeting from the person who is looking at the site.
2iventures: I’m also curious about combinations of colours and how you can use them in different parts of a website to get people to make a subconscious decision, like ‘click’ or ‘agree’ with content. Connie: It has to be a balance because you don’t want the colours to drain and not have the visitors come back. For example, light blue is a colour that is used to balance, as it engenders calm and serenity. 2iventures: My idea was to use colours to get people to agree with information even if, from a logical perspective, the information would be, at best, questionable – so, to suggestively direct them to make specific decisions. Connie: At first (in my opinion), you should use vibrant colours to get people to click for more information (within the gambling industry specifically). But if you are looking to get people to agree with specific information, then the colours used should be as neutral as possible (white or light blue) so it appears more genuine. 2iventures: So action areas should use vibrant colours and areas with no anticipated action should be pale? Connie: Vibrant colours should be used for places where you want visitors to click to find out more information, or for calls-to-action. Pale colours work best in areas where you already provide as much information as the visitor/consumer requires.
If you have any questions for Connie, please email them to Connie at: email@example.com.
iGB Affiliate APRIL/MAY 2011