Interview with Thorsten Andreassen from www.casino752.com

interview with Thorsten Andreassen from www.casino752.comWe had an interview with Thorsten Andreassen from www.casino752.com, who is taking part in Affiliate Grand Slam in Tallinn this April.

Hello Thorsten, how are you?  Are you ready for the Tallinn Affiliate Grand Slam  2017?

Hi Marius, I´m great thanks! And Thanks for giving me this opportunity. Yes I´m really looking forward to see you all at AGS in Tallinn, which btw is a very nice city. And very cheap compared to Stockholm.

How did you come to enter the online casino space and set up your company?

I joined my brothers company. I was in the entertainment business for many years before I entered the affiliate and the iGaming industry. My brother has been my mentor in business terms since early years.

Can you tell us a little about how your company business is structured?

We only handle Affiliates as today.

With the recent wave of consolidation, mergers and acquisitions of affiliate sites, are you surprised at all of the changes happening in the industry?

Well I am, but my brother has been in the industry since 1998, so he’s more cool about it and seen the ups and downs. Of course this gives me a personal kick to work harder.  

A number of your competitors have gone down the real money operator route, and tried their hand at white labels. Have you also done this?

We’re not planning for the nearest future, but who knows?

Developing unique content is a key pillar of your strategy. What will be your primary focus on this front over the next 6 months?

We do as we do right now but with a few tweaks. There is one project right now which is very much based on a character and his style of content writing which will be interesting to see how it´s going to be received and convert.

Which markets do you focus on and do you see any potential in the emerging markets?

Focus is Sweden for some of the brands and Europe.
If we manage to get the manpower it would of course be interesting to go Asia and North and South America.

How do you find Scandinavian markets and competition?

As a gaming market fantastic, but lately the competition is horrific. We see an increasing competition. Lots of new luck seekers. But I think it´s the genuine affiliates that will survive in the long run.

How have Google’s algorithm updates affected the way you go about traffic generation, SEO and content at your company?

Holy Cow! Google has refined the algorithms so though now there are almost no back doors at all left to tweak. You just have to work harder and invest more hours to really work with your keywords, SEO and content has to be 100% unique.

Are there any exciting plans in the works that you can tell us about?

Hmm. Yes actually there is, but nothing I can share here right now.

What is the main thing that you’d like Sigma readers to know about your sites?

Our vision and goal is to be a trustful and reliable competitor to the big major affiliates sites out there today.

What challenges and opportunities has the move to mobile presented you with?

Our platforms have been 100% responsive since start, so the transition to the mobile devices was very smooth. I can’t really see any downsides with it. The oppertunities are massive since the Scandinavian People are picking up their phones 150 times per day in average. Mobile devices have about 70-85% today.

What do you see as the biggest challenges ahead for your business and the wider affiliate sector in 2017?

I think there will be a bigger competition, so in terms of SEO the work will be harder, and more time consuming.

What two pieces of advice would you give to any new affiliate starting today?

Stay out of it! Just kidding 😉
1. Make sure you understand the work of SEO. This takes time, so be patient!
2. Go to the conferences and meet people like SIMGA Conferences can offer. When you sign up with a casino affiliates, milk the account managers on all crusial details you need to know to promote their welcome offers etc. It’s in their interest you get a win/win scenario!

Do you play slots and what would you do with 1 million Euro from jackpot winnings?

Yes I do play slots, but not like I used to do. Got too much work these days.

If I won 1 million Euro I would definitely spend it on investing in future projects, secure some money in stocks for my kids. Get a nice and long vacation, which I haven’t had in years.

Thorsten Andreassen have been working as a Head of Projects of Intergalaxy Media Malta Ltd from 2014. Besides that he also works as an Festival Director/Artistic Director for Stockholm Street Festival.    

Interview with Dennis Dyhr-Hansen from Matching Visions

Interview with Dennis Dyhr-Hansen from Matching VisionsWe met Dennis Dyhr-Hansen, the founder of Matching Visions, who is taking part in Affiliate Grand Slam in Tallinn this April.

Hello Dennis, how are you? Are you ready for the Tallinn Affiliate Grand Slam 2017?

I’m great thanks and very excited about the upcoming event. It’s going to be an awesome few days of networking and fun and I always look forward to getting involved in these much-needed industry gatherings.

 

How did you come to enter the online gaming space and set up your company? 

Like a lot of people, I was involved in the poker industry back in the days and that’s what brought me to Malta and into the world of iGaming.

Can you tell us a little about how your company business is structured?

We run Matching Visions, which is a successful affiliate network. We act as the middle man, so we bring together thousands of affiliates and hundreds of operators all under one roof. This makes life a lot easier for the affiliate as they have everything in one place, plus it gives the operator access to a large pool of affiliates through one contact.

Dennis Dyhr-Hansen

With the recent wave of consolidation, mergers and acquisitions of affiliate sites, are you surprised at all of the changes happening in the industry?

It’s certainly been a crazy year in terms of acquisitions, but I’m not entirely surprised that this is how things have panned out. There’s a few very big players in the game nowadays and if they see something with potential or that could compete in any way with their business, they want it. Obviously for operators this is not ideal and hopefully it’s something that will slow down in the near future.

Which markets do you focus on and do you see any potential in the emerging markets ?

When we started we focused primarily on Scandinavia, which are obviously great markets. However, after a while we saw the potential with expanding into new markets, all over the world. Now we offer campaigns from over 25 countries, including some lesser known geos such as Poland, New Zealand and Canada for example. This list is growing every month and there’s certainly some countries we have a very close eye on, especially the huge South American and Japanese markets.

How do you find Nordic markets and competition?

The Nordic markets are now very saturated, with new casinos open up almost daily it seems. This gives affiliates more choice and therefore more power to negotiate with older operators, so it’s an interesting dynamic. We see so many casinos coming and going over the years and it’s quite easy to see from the start which ones will still be around in a year’s time.

Are there any exciting plans in the works that you can tell us about?

We always have exciting plans in the works. Recently we just launched our new affiliate gamification tool ‘MatchingMissions’. We’re really excited about this as it’s the first of its kind and there’s a lot of potential for us to grow this product and make it into something really cool!

What is the main thing that you’d like Sigma readers to know about Matching Visions?

We would just like the readers to know that we take a lot of pride in what we do and are very proud of what we have created so far. We have big plans for the future and we’ll continue to do things the right way and have fun whilst doing it!

What do you see as the biggest challenges ahead for your business and the wider affiliate sector in 2017?

Further consolidation is a challenge for us, as many of our affiliates who we grow with and work with for years get purchased and then can no longer work through us in most cases, which is a shame. A wider challenge is transparency with operators, especially the hundreds of new ones popping up. Knowing where and who you’re sending your traffic to and having peace of mind that you’re going to get paid.

What two pieces of advice would you give to any new affiliate starting today?

The first piece of advice I’d give is to sign up with Matching Visions, as we really do make your life easier as a new affiliate. The second thing is making sure you have something unique and exciting. With so many affiliates out there, you need to make you site and concept stand out, or you need to make your texts catchy and attractive. If you have the concept, work with the right people and put in the long hours, things will hopefully start to fall in place.

Do you play slots and what would you do with 1 million Euro from jackpot winnings?

Yes I play slots now and again and if I won the jackpot I’d probably just play more slots!

Originally from Denmark, Dennis Dyhr-Hansen has been at the forefront of the gaming industry in Malta for several years and works closely with hundreds of casinos and affiliates on a daily basis. In 2014 he founded the iGaming affiliate network Matching Visions, which has grown from strength to strength and cemented its place as one of the leading networks in the industry. As well as Matching Visions, Dennis is involved in several other projects and events within the industry.

Meet Keith Hathaway from Geeky Gambler

SiGMA met Keith Hathaway from Geeky Gambler for an interview about his business and the work as an affiliate.

Hello Keith, how are you? Are you ready for the Tallinn Affiliate Grand Slam 2017?

I was born ready Marius, it is a great country I head and a new one for me. It will be very exciting with a pure affiliate focus and the best of my peers all in one place. In a far more intimate way than the usual conference setting, I think it’s an awesome initiative.

How did you come to enter the online gaming space and set up your company?

I am one of the dinosaurs, I was first a Poker affiliate in the UK back in 2005. That lasted till around 2010 and then “Black Friday” in 2011 killed it off. I then moved to Malta as an Affiliate Manager for the next 6 years, until last year I became a full time affiliate again.

Geeky Gambler

The Geeky Gambler working his magic away from St. George’s Bay, Malta

Can you tell us a little about how your company business is structured?

I am the main face of the business, “The Geek” so to speak, working on the sites full time and day to day. But I am partnered with some strong industry veterans you will all know making a strong and experienced team.

With the recent wave of consolidation, mergers and acquisitions of affiliate sites, are you surprised at all of the changes happening in the industry?

I learnt not to be surprised long ago, the industry works in waves and is cyclical but I do not believe we have reached the end of the acquisition cycle yet.

A number of your competitors have gone down the real money operator route, and tried their hand at white labels. Have you also done this?

Many have, and more will try. It is many peoples dream to have their own Casino and it has never been easier, but do not underestimate the hard work. I have no plans to go in this direction at all right now.

Developing unique content is a key pillar of your strategy. What will be your primary focus on this front over the next 6 months?

Very simple, high volume of content without compromising in the quality of what is published. You never stop learning on the SEO side and it is evolving all the time.

Which markets do you focus on and do you see any potential in the emerging markets ?

All of our sites are English language only, so Google keeps us strong in the UK but we like traffic from all markets if we can get it. I am fascinated by regulated markets and in theory every newly regulated market can be an emerging market on it’s own. Either that or the regulation kills it. But I believe Latin America and Africa will explode in the next 12-24 months.

How do you find UK market and competition?

The UK is and always will be tough, it has 10x the population that the Nordic markets have and huge player value. It is tough as you are always competing with some very experienced and big budget competition.

How have Google’s algorithm updates affected the way you go about traffic generation, SEO and content at your company?

I don’t believe, being under a year live, we have reached close to our SEO and ranking highs yet, so in reality we haven’t suffered at all to date.

Are there any exciting plans in the works that you can tell us about?

Nothing groundbreaking, just a lot of hard work and activity so you will hopefully see us around for a lot longer yet!

What is the main thing that you’d like Sigma readers to know about your sites?

We like to think our sites are fun and informative, we focus heavily and in equal measures on sports and casino, quite rare now as most are firmly one camp or the other. We even sprinkle some Lotto and Bingo in for variety! Oh, and our tips that we run in partnership with friends of Sigma, and partners of AGS Bettinggods.com are flying. Follow us and see for yourselves!

What challenges and opportunities has the move to mobile presented you with?

We are such a new company and sites that we have always had mobile in mind, so unlike some of the more established sites we haven’t had to make changes as we launched with mobile in mind.

What do you see as the biggest challenges ahead for your business and the wider affiliate sector in 2017?

Traffic, good content and surviving Tallinn! It’s going to be a whole lot of fun but may need a health warning before we check in to the Hilton!

What two pieces of advice would you give to any new affiliate starting today?

Work hard, be smart, network well and never give up.

Do you play slots and what would you do with 1 million Euro from jackpot winnings?

I play slots occasionally, I am more of a sports bettor and social poker player. Every now and then I will have a go on Mega Fortune or other jackpots if they get big. I am not sure what I would do, but I can promise there would be one hell of a party!

Originally from the United Kingdom, Keith Hathaway has been involved in Online Gaming since 2005 and based in Malta since 2010. Having roles in operators from Affiliate Manager, Head of Affiliates, Head of Acquisition and multiple consultancy roles as well as now being in his second spell as a full time affiliate, making Keith somewhat an all rounder in the industry.

Interview with John Wright from GaffG.com

We met John Wright from GaffG.com for an interview to ask few questions about his business and the work as an affiliate.

Interview with John WrightHello John, how are you? Are you ready for the Tallinn Affiliate Grand Slam  2017 or SiGMA Affiliate Conference 2017 or SiGMA 2017?

Hi Marius, I am very well thanks for asking buddy. If I was in Europe I’d be in Tallinn in a heartbeat for AGS but if it returns to the same place next year, Estonia would be a cool place to visit. SiGMA 2017 of course but lets hope for the sunny weather I hear about and see on Facebook.

What was your impression of SiGMA 2016?

I was surprised at how big it was and how many people there were there. Of course Malta is the capital of gaming so that certainly helps. It was nice to see all the companies located there and visit their offices, it gives you a sense of what goes on behind the scenes for some operators.

How did you come to enter the online casino space and set up your company?

It’s too long of a story, it started with professional gambling but I knew the future of the business was the marketing side of things. I tell people that content and websites are like virtual currency, maybe the outside world had a hard time understanding it’s true value but we all know it’s real. I’ve been working mostly with gaffg.com for 7 years and have a network of casino and sportsbetting portals.

With the recent wave of consolidation, mergers and acquisitions of affiliate sites, are you surprised at all of the changes happening in the industry?

I’m not entirely surprised other than the rapid acceleration of M&A happening as it went from zero to max and now it seems every few months there is a major acquisition happening. There are good and bad aspects to this situation where the good aspects of this are that affiliates are getting offers to sell their sites and cash out. The good part of this is that you can quickly sell a site, cash out and retire early or move onto the next project. The downsides of this trend are that these companies doing the buying are getting bigger and using their size to leverage better deals for themselves. It makes it more challenging for smaller affiliates to compete against bigger companies that have every resource in their arsenal.

It all leads to a complicated situation where these bigger groups are able to swallow up smaller affiliates and operators are starting to see these bigger groups representing more of the affiliate marketing base which gives them more power. I think one of the biggest issues at hand is that it is going to make it even more challenging for new affiliates to enter into the markets.

Are there any exciting plans in the works that you can tell us about?

I have been quietly working on adventures.io which is I think a unique site and service. I have done consulting work in design and SEO along with affiliate coaching and adventures.io is combining all of this to offer these services in the form of partnerships for other affiliates that are looking to accelerate their business whether they are new in gaming or existing and wanting to get to the next level. As much as I say it is possible to be successful launching a site on the smallest budget, it’s better to launch with a custom design and custom backend to have a unique website. Our job is to focus on the SEO, design, programming and aspects of marketing while the other partner can focus on doing their job which is all about content.

Every year I like to make changes and see what I can do different to get better both in terms of skill set as well as improve my websites. I think 2017 will be filled with the most change to date.

I have another project that I’m working on which is top secret and you’ll hear about it very soon.

What advice would you give to any new affiliate starting today?

I think it’s becoming harder and harder for new affiliates to break through without any help on their own. It is still possible to go from rags to riches in this industry but just know there are not any get rich quick schemes going on. Finding mentors isn’t easy as most affiliates don’t really want to help their competitors get stronger without anything in return.

Aside from that I recommend any new affiliate put together any type of business plan whether short and simple or one with further detail. You can ask other affiliates for their opinion but if you feel your ideas are unique then maybe you don’t want to share them. Experienced affiliate managers will give you the honest feedback you need and give you an idea if your business plan will work or not. Create a plan, focus on results and track your progress. Keep yourself on a tight budget and don’t think you need to buy your way into success. Write down notes of what you want to accomplish in a day, week or month and make sure almost every day you are contributing something to your project.

Meet Sebastian Agerskov from Traffic Lab

Meet Sebastian Agerskov from Traffic Lab ApsSiGMA met Sebastian Agerskov from Traffic Lab ApS, who is participating in Affiliate Grand Slam in Tallinn this April.

Hello Sebastian, how are you? Are you ready for the Tallinn Affiliate Grand Slam 2017?

Hey Marius, I’m fine thanks. Busy as always…which is good. I think I’m ready, but the heavy drinking taking place at such events always make me rethink that. Under any circumstances it’s a good place to socialize with other affiliates and in general meet great people in the industry.

How did you come to enter the online gaming space and set up your company?

It’s quiet a long story. I started studying law and at the same time I worked for an affiliate agency where I met my beloved business partner, Tuomas Jauhiainen, who in the meantime was working as an affiliate (only 16 years old). He actually started out when he was 14 years old because he was tired of picking strawberries on a cold field in Finland, whereafter he went home and wrote “how to make money on the Internet”, but that’s a whole other story. He was selling magazines, loans etc. as an affiliate, but primary only in Finland. When we met we thought why not do it in many other countries, which we did and soon after we began doing casino as well. At that time we had separate companies and some years later we merged into what is now Traffic Lab. We also dropped everything else besides casino and focused solely on that, since we noticed many of our old accounts from the beginning were still generating very good revenues and we had to sell shitloads of magazines in order to make the same money, hence it was natural to focus on casino which we don’t regret for one moment.

Can you tell us a little about how your company business is structured?

There isn’t that much to tell. Tuomas and I founded the company and nowadays we have an office in Finland and Denmark full of great people having different roles. The bar and Xbox is in the lounge area 🙂

With the recent wave of consolidation, mergers and acquisitions of affiliate sites, are you surprised at all of the changes happening in the industry?

No. As the business grows there will be ever more acquisitions and mergers.

A number of your competitors have gone down the real money operator route, and tried their hand at white labels. Have you also done this?

Well…We had our own lottery brand, but we sold it off quiet fast after we realized this is not what we are good at. Otherwise we have not been operators.

Developing unique content is a key pillar of your strategy. What will be your primary focus on this front over the next 6 months?

I don’t know if it’s a key pillar of our strategy, but we definitely think about it. We have made some quiet fucked up sites (sorry for swearing), such as: www.gratischancer.dk in Denmark, but I personally think its quiet funny and original. Our primary focus is of course to differentiate from other sites.

Which markets do you focus on and do you see any potential in the emerging markets ?

We focus on Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany, but we also get players from United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand. When it comes to emerging markets Brazil, Japan and South Africa are interesting.

How do you find Scandinavian markets and competition?

As for SEO, yes there is more competition. It’s natural that more competition follows along, as long as there is money to be made, but for other marketing channels not really. UK and US are much harder I think, but of course in these countries you have some advantages such as more search volume on long tail keywords which are easy to rank on, but try to go for “online casino” its harder definitely than in Scandinavia.

How have Google’s algorithm updates affected the way you go about traffic generation, SEO and content at your company?

Not much, but of course we keep an eye out for what the Big G wants and we adjust accordingly.

Are there any exciting plans in the works that you can tell us about?

I wish I could.

What is the main thing that you’d like Sigma readers to know about your sites?

Nothing special to be honest. There are many other affiliates that have better SEO sites than us, since we are more focused on media buying and other channels.

What do you see as the biggest challenges ahead for your business and the wider affiliate sector in 2017?

Well… there is always challenges ahead which can be frustrating but also part of the fun. In general I think the challenge is to find new ways of obtaining players and also really think about whom you are working with. There is constantly coming new operators on the market and when multiple countries begin to implement their license systems will all operators get the license? Maybe they are not going to apply if it is not their main market, maybe they can’t get it, maybe the tax will cut profits etc. It’s something to think about, although I don’t think a national license system is necessarily a bad thing.

What two pieces of advice would you give to any new affiliate starting today?

Like many of the other affiliates have said, it requires patience, focus and shitloads of hard work. Although I also think you have to work smart and find your own ways of doing things. Also it’s a huge advantage if you have a background in qualities you need in this industry like programming, SEO etc.

Do you play slots and what would you do with 1 million Euro from jackpot winnings?

I don’t gamble at all since I want the odds on my side, but of course I have done some “product testing”. NetEnt games are clearly my favorites, but if I had to choose one it would be Gonzo’s Quest. If you had asked me years ago what I would do if I won 1 million it would be a different answer, but now, I would give it to charity. It’s much more fun and enjoyable to make it yourself.

Sebastian Agerskov runs the affiliate company Traffic Lab ApS, which started in 2014 with sites like www.kasinohai.com, www.gratischancer.dk and www.gratispengespil.com but which main focus is Media Buying.

A brand-new perspective on iGaming industry by Ionut Marin

A brand-new perspective on iGaming industry by Ionut MarinSiGMA spoke with Romanian owner of ZZZSlots and TakeBonusIonut Marin.

How did your projects begin?

They started out as a simple idea: to create a place where all kinds of players can join and have a unique gaming experience. Even though we are at the beginning of our road, we are confident that we will manage to grow and develop in time. This industry requires an enormous amount of resources, experience and dedication, which is why we are working with some of the best specialist in the field that can provide the optimal solutions for our needs and a different perspective and approach on this industry based on their expertise.

We would like to learn more about your business.

Well, both ZZZSlots and TakeBonus are addressed to casino lovers. ZZZSlots is one-stop platform of ultimate online slots with more than 4000 slots from more than 120 providers. You can think of it as a tremendous collection of slot machines that can be played every time you desire. This wide range of games is diverse, from classic slots with a simple graphic design to complex themed slots with fantastic features. TakeBonus is an independent directory and guide to casino bonuses with the purpose of helping players finding the best casino bonuses. In this regard, each player can search through an extensive list of bonuses, that is updated on a regular basis, the most rewarding or tempting bonus from their favorite casino. Our team is working constantly so all our players can have a unique experience.

Have you ever attended SiGMA before?

Unfortunately, no, but this year we will! I believe it is extremely important to attend to this type of events especially if you are new in this industry. In this regard, the Malta iGaming summit represents one of the best opportunities for networking and discussion with other affiliates, operators, regulators or vendors.

What is your favorite part when attending to this kind of events?

First of all, I think it’s great that such an event it’s able to bring together the entire gaming community. You can receive feedback in real time from so many experts in the field who are gathered in one place. I am also interested in joining in insightful conferences where you can learn so much from other’s experience. Secondly, needless to say, I love Malta! It’s an amazing place for business but also for leisure.

What are your future plans for ZZZSlots and TakeBonus?

In order to develop and grow, we are planning to invest in research and innovation departments. Our main goal is to consolidate our projects, which is why our next step will be to allocate sufficient time and resources into research and find new ideas. We are focusing in developing our projects so that all players can find exactly what they want. If you want to play free slots from your favorite provider you can simply visit https://zzzslots.com/ and search that specific game that fits all your preferences. If you want a rewarding bonus or you are interested in finding out which casino offers the most, you can check https://takebonus.com/ and find all your answers regarding this industry.

TakeBonus is a brand new independent directory and a comprehensive guide to online casino bonuses. This complete and extensive guide was thoroughly composed and is constantly updated. Not only they offer players a wide variety of rewarding bonuses, trusted casinos and popular providers, but they also guide them through the entire process, providing all the needed information in order to take an informed decision.

Meet Jan Möller from LuckyLabz

Meet Jan Möller from LuckyLabzWe met Jan Möller, the co-owner of LuckyLabz, who is taking part in Affiliate Grand Slam 2017 in Tallinn this April.

Hello Jan, how are you? Are you ready for the Tallinn Affiliate Grand Slam 2017?

Hello Marius, first of all I would like to say thank you for the interview. Yes, of course I am ready, it’s an honour for me to be invited to this kind of event, because it tells me that the work we do and our company is recognized as well as being appreciated by the operators.

How did you come to enter the online gaming space and set up your company?

Well it all started when I was a student. I created my first ice hockey tipster website as a hobby, just because there were no ice hockey tipster site in Germany. Later my best friend Jeton helped me to start more sites about football and other sports. While doing my university internship at bet-at-home I got promoted to Head of Affiliates. Jeton continued working on the sites and then one day while playing poker the idea for LuckyLabz was born. We worked one year remotely establishing our business. After that one year together in a little office in Hamburg (lovingly called the chicken box) we were ready to hire people to support us and moved to Varna, Bulgaria – where our headquarters is still based.

Can you tell us a little about how your company and how is the business structured in terms of offices/locations, employees and their specialisms ?

Of course! Our main office is in Varna, Bulgaria, but we also have employees in Germany as well. At first we were 5-6 people, and actually some of them are still working for us. Presently we now have over 50 employees, and from what I see, all of them are motivated, ready to learn and develop their skills.

With the recent wave of consolidation, mergers and acquisitions of affiliate sites, are you surprised at all of the changes happening in the industry?

Actually not. Our field is quickly developing and changing a lot. Merger and acquisition is an inevitable part of any business, it is natural to expect it in our field as well.

A number of your competitors have gone down the real money operator route, and tried their hand at white labels. Have you also done this?

We are always open to new opportunities and consider new things all the time, but let me keep those a secret for now.

Developing unique content is a key pillar of your strategy. What will be your primary focus on this front over the next 6 months?

The content is not just a text it is more complex, and it is a process which requires attention to details. When I say that the content is not only text, I mean that it can involve many different things like, videos, images etc. – all adding to and improving the user experience. That’s why our primary focus for the next 6 months is exactly that – improving the content beyond just text, which is going to lead to a better user experience.

Which markets do you focus on and do you see any potential in the emerging markets ?

Our main focus is the German speaking world, but we also work in the UK market, and of course we are always seeking new opportunities.

How do you find UK market and competition?

Our first English project started really well in the UK, of course we did the needed research and preparation. We are still figuring out how the UK market is working and we are improving our sites daily.

How have Google’s algorithm updates affected the way you go about traffic generation, SEO and content at your company?

They have not and do not affect us too much, because we try to make everything clean and follow up all the changes of Google’s algorithm, implementing the changes on time in our websites. We actually look forward to each new Google Update.

Approximately, how much of your revenue is driven by sportbook compared to the other products?

Back in 2011 when we created the company, our main focus was Sports Betting, but three years ago we started with Casino as well, which generates really good results. So let’s just say that they both bringing us equally good revenues.

Are there any exciting plans in the works that you can tell us about?

We are always trying to produce something new, but let me surprise you when the time is right.

What is the main thing that you’d like Sigma readers to know about your sites?

LuckyLabz owns some of the best websites on the DACH market. We are doing our best to provide our visitors with all their information needs. As I said earlier our content is high quality and unique, but we are still trying to improve and keep it updated. I am very proud to see the popularity that our websites have gained, good examples being casinobonus.de in the Casino market and wettbonus.info in the Sport market.

What challenges and opportunities has the move to mobile presented you with?

We have been prepared from the outset for the challenges that the mobile market presents, as our key aspect to designs has always been mobile first. All our sites have a responsive design and have been tested on different mobile devices and platforms. We even have sites which contain valuable information for mobile casino and sports apps – casino-apps.com and sportwettenapp.net, for example.

What do you see as the biggest challenges ahead for your business and the wider affiliate sector in 2017?

To be better than our competitors. To be TOP in the mobile friendly market, and to be always aware of the Google Updates. As professionalists we are always striving for perfection.

What two pieces of advice would you give to any new affiliate starting today?

What I would like to advise any new affiliate is to be ambitious, do thorough research and select only trustworthy partners to work with.

Do you bet or play slots and what would you do with 1 million Euro from sport or jackpot winnings?

Part of the winnings I would use for an around the world trip and the other part I would donate to different causes like “International Fund for Animal Welfare” or “Water.org”. Both causes deal with world problems that I actually care about.

Jan Möller is a young businessman and the co-owner of LuckyLabz, an iGaming affiliate company. He originates from Schwerin, Germany, but now resides in Varna, Bulgaria, where LuckyLabz is based.  Previously he was employed as head of affiliates at bet-at-home.com.

Meet Stefan Stamgren from Betsmart.se

Meet Stefan Stamgren from Betsmart.seWe met Stefan Stamgren from Betsmart.se for an interview about the company and working as an affiliate.

Hello Stefan, how are you? Are you ready for the Summit of Igaming at Malta 2017?

Hi Marius, I’m fine thanks! I’m really looking forward to Summit of Igaming at Malta. I haven’t been at the conference before but I have heard many good things about it. The weather in Sweden in November isn’t that good so that’s another good reason to go to Sigma ’17.

How did you first enter the online gaming business?

Well me and my friend Robert started to do some basic HTML coding back in 2007. We were not aware of SEO at that point and when we created the site Betsmart.se we were amazed the people actually found it. Somehow they did and after a while we started to earn some money. Three years later we quit our jobs and started to work full time as affiliates. That was a great day!

Can you tell us a little about how your company business is structured?

We are four people today working full time with our sites. We do most of the work ourselves but hire for some tasks that we don’t have time to fix. We work from home but we are structured and have a clear agenda so we know what we should do every day.

How do you find Scandinavian markets and competition?

I find the Scandinavian market still is great to work with. Well the competition is a lot tougher now, then it has been the last couple of years. When we started 2007 it was a whole different story. Now it is BIG competition but I still think there is a good possibility to earn money if you are dedicated and patient.

What do you see as the biggest challenges ahead for your business and the wider affiliate sector in 2017?

Well most of our business is still in Sweden and it will most likely be a regulated market 2018. If so we hope that it is still possible to make money as an affiliate. If the regulation means a lot worse situation for Swedish affiliates we will have to adapt and that could be a huge challenge.

What two pieces of advice would you give to any new affiliate starting today?

Well first of all I think it’s wise to start small and not take so much costs before you earn any money. If it fails you have only lost your time. I also think you need to learn basic HTML and basic SEO. If you do you have a good chance of finding your own way into the affiliate business.

Do you like slots or sports betting?

I like sports betting a lot more then casino and slots.  The main reason we became affiliates were the fact that we like to bet on sports. Today I don’t have time to bet so much but I still like it.

When I play casino it’s mostly black jack and roulette. If I play slots it’s almost always on a jackpot slot.

Interview with Duncan Garvie from ThePOGG

We met Duncan Garvie, the Manager and ADR Official for ThePOGG Network, to ask him a couple of questions about the company and his thoughts about the industry.

Hello Duncan, how are you? Are you ready for the Tallinn Affiliate Grand Slam 2017?

I’m very well – thanks for asking.

Unfortunately I’m not going to make it out to the Grand Slam due to commitments with the UK Gambling Commission related to our status as an Alternative Dispute Resolution service, but it sounds like a fantastic event and I’m sure it’ll be a huge success for everyone attending!

Of course I will be delighted to attend future events including Sigma 2017. That Marius Filip involved in these events is a huge plus – he’s always been one of our favorite affiliate managers.

How did you come to enter the online gaming space and set up your company?

After qualifying from university in Mathematics I developed an interest in gambling. I subsequently spent several years playing both off and online in various verticals. Having collected and read close to a hundred of the best books on various forms of advantage gambling alongside having a wealth of experience playing I felt I had a strong grounding in the sector and decided to apply that knowledge in a way that would help players. As such I set up ThePOGG with the intention of only recommending the most reputable operator and assisting players with any complaints that do arise.

Can you tell us a little about how your company business is structured?

Not much to tell really. I founded and manage the day-to-day operation of the network including dealing with the complaint management. We have another team member in charge of the reviewing process for listing new operators. John Wright (Gaffg.com) takes care of our design work and SEO. Finally we’re starting to build a team of copy writers to help increase the content output in the less critical sectors of the site (outside of reviews and complaints).

With the recent wave of consolidation, mergers and acquisitions of affiliate sites, are you surprised at all of the changes happening in the industry?

Surprised and a little concerned. With the rapid consolidation that’s been occurring recently I do worry that the smaller affiliate is likely to come under growing pressure to compete in an increasingly tough market. The reduction in diversity can only be a negative for consumer as the market homogenizes and less creative and unique projects can gain space.

A number of your competitors have gone down the real money operator route, and tried their hand at white labels. Have you also done this?

Absolutely not. We have had several white label platforms try to encourage us to do so, but it would be a massive and inexcusable conflict of interests to be both reviewing operator and running our own operation. Any claims of impartiality would be absolutely undermined and I do feel that this sort of activity discredits the affiliate industry.

Developing unique content is a key pillar of your strategy. What will be your primary focus on this front over the next 6 months?

I’m currently putting together the content for an entirely new bonus rating system for ThePOGG. This will be unlike anything any other site has in place and will look to simulate every bonus based on the play of the average low, mid and high rolling play, providing a currency value after all terms and conditions have been taken into consideration. So far I’ve put together around 300 reports (close to 250k words of content) and the programming work is currently ongoing. I’d hope to have this in place before the end of March, but we all know how slippage occurs on this type of project.

Which markets do you focus on and do you see any potential in the emerging markets?

There’s a lot of potential in any market that is legal but given our English language base I look to focus our efforts in the legal English language markets, namely the UK and Canada. We’re always happy to help any player regardless of where they’re located, but it’s far easier to deal with complaints where both participants are speaking the same language.

How do you find UK markets and competition?

It’s extremely competitive, but I like to think that we’re offering a number of unique services and content that simply isn’t equaled anywhere else. By ensuring that our content is of a high quality we generate a large number of natural links and ensure return custom. Offering something that your competitors cannot is the best way to stand out in a competitive market.

How have Google’s algorithm updates affected the way you go about traffic generation, SEO and content at your company?

We’ve always had a pretty natural approach to SEO and this has been reflected in the algorithm updates we’ve seen so far. At every update we either see little change or a small improvement in traffic. I take that to mean that we’re largely getting things right.

Of course there are always things you can do to improve. For example we’re in the process of implementing the switch to https and last year’s relaunch saw us significantly improve the responsiveness of ThePOGG. Anytime you can do something that Google is pushing for it’s usually a good idea.

As far as content goes, I try to ensure we never create content specifically for SEO reasons. Today’s internet users are growing more and more savvy when it comes to picking out bs content that’s just been written for the purposes of ranking or selling. Of course we work hard to ensure our content will rank and will convert, but when writing any content for the site our team is well briefed to ensure that there is a purpose behind the content for the reader rather than us. If you can’t justify why a reader would find the content useful it’s unlikely to make it as far as publication.

Are there any exciting plans in the works that you can tell us about?

In the immediate future we have the launch of the new bonus rating system. I’m really excited about this. All affiliates advertise the “best” bonuses, but this is all really subjective opinion. Our system will actually give players a $ value that a bonus is worth to them based on the approximate bet size they play and some other basic criteria. In short, opinion will no longer be part of the process and when we rate a casino’s bonus as ‘Best of High Rollers’ there will be figures and simulations to back this up.

Alongside the benefits to our users we’ve always avoided writing bonus related content specifically because I couldn’t find a way of doing this that didn’t just read like spam advertisements that you see everywhere else. This new system has allowed me to construct rich, detailed content that is both useful to users and should allow us to rank for a lot of high value terms that we’ve previously missed out on.

Immediately after this we’ll be looking to complete a full rebuild of POGGStrategies. While the content on that site is good I’ve never been completely happy with the construction of the site. This will be the next major job as I believe that site has huge potential to do far better than it is.

After that we’ve got another redesign of ThePOGG we want to complete. While I’m far happier with this site than the other sites in the network, we’d like to shift away from the WordPress platform and the last round of design work has taught us a lot in terms of CRO. I feel we could improve this site still further in terms of but usability and conversion.

Finally, at the same time as the redesign of ThePOGG we’ll look to rebuild POGGWebmasters. This site was a quick rip of the complaints system from ThePOGG and it’s not worked nearly as well as I hoped. It’s very buggy.

My hope would be to have all of the above done within the next 18 months, so there’s plenty going on!

What is the main thing that you’d like Sigma readers to know about your sites?

The main impressions that I’d like Sigma readers to walk away with are the same as the impressions that I’d want any user to walk away with. We’ve worked very hard to build and maintain a reputation for knowledge and credibility and if I was asked for one word I’d hope readers will associate with ThePOGG network I’d hope it would be “integrity”.

What challenges and opportunities has the move to mobile presented you with?

Mobile is a funny thing. The lack of space compared to a desktop presents challenges in terms of making what works on desktop viable. I would actually say that designing for mobile has been the most significant factor in improving our understanding of what good design is. The lack of space forces you to really think about what needs to be included and how your users use your site. For someone who doesn’t come from a design background working with John Wright on this has been a real eye opener. This has been especially apparent in our work for the upcoming bonus system. A lot of complex technical information has had to be condensed and made useable in a mobile context.

As to opportunities – these speak for themselves. If you’re not putting serious consideration into how your site functions for mobile users you’re throwing away significant revenue. The market is move more and more towards small devices.

What do you see as the biggest challenges ahead for your business and the wider affiliate sector in 2017?

The challenges really depend on who you are. For small affiliates the challenges are competing in an increasingly limited market against some large groups that have swallowed up significant portions of the diversity, homogenizing it and pumping in huge volumes of cash to ensure their properties dominate the market. They swallow up domains that have developed strength due to unique quality content but have not fully exploited that strength in marketing terms and pump out generic sales material they know will rank due to the strength of the domain. For the average small to mid-size affiliate competing against this is a real challenge.

For operators the challenges are different. With an increasingly regulated market it’s a big job to ensure you’re compliant in every market you are active in. If you fail you face sanctions or fines and perhaps more significantly damage to your reputation.

What two pieces of advice would you give to any new affiliate starting today?

The first thing I’d say is make sure that you actually have something unique to offer. If you don’t have something genuinely unique and useful you’re going to find it very difficult to compete against all the generic sites that are owned by the consolidated groups that have very deep pockets. Only by offering something that isn’t available anywhere else will you give yourself an advantage that they can’t simply out spend.

Secondly, if you don’t have a background in web design you need to get someone with experience in to help you. You can write the best content in the world or put together the most useful tools, but if you can’t package them right and make both Google and your readers appreciate them you still won’t make it. As much as I hate it, having a background in web design probably gives you a better launching platform in this industry than having a background in gambling.

Do you play slots and what would you do with 1 million Euro from jackpot winnings?

Unfortunately in the last few years my time has become so consumed in the operation of ThePOGG that I get no time to play these days. As we grow and expand the team, allowing me to delegate more, I would hope that would change and I’ll have a little more time for recreational activities.

With regard to €1 million jackpot, as big as it sounds it’s not that much in today’s world. Chances are I’d look to invest it in a new project. Had ThePOGG started with that kind of bankroll we’d be in a very different position today.

Duncan Garvie is the Manager and ADR Official for ThePOGG Network. ThePOGG is the only affiliate based UKGC accredited Alternative Dispute Resolution service. Duncan has managed ThePOGG for 6 years and prior to that has many years’ experience as a player and mathematician in both the on and offline gaming fields.

 

Meet Ermin Rajic from Media Clever Sweden

We met Ermin Rajic from Media Clever Sweden AB, who is taking part in Affiliate Grand Slam in Tallinn this April.Ermin Rajic

Hello Ermin, how are you? Are you ready for the Tallinn Affiliate Grand Slam  2017?

Hi Marius, im great thank you for asking. Actually no, i would love to be there but i want be able to this time.

How did you come to enter the online casino space and set up your company?

Well, i live in small town where the opportunities are not that big and i wanted to start my own business so at that time it seemed that internet was the best choice to make good money plus you could start with small investment.

Anyway i tried a lot of niches and when i finally tried casino i feel in love with it. Everything is different for an affiliate when you work with casino. The people are great, there is always big news and of course the commission is the best. So since then its been all about casino for me!

Can you tell us a little about how your company business is structured?

Well its quiet simply really. I built the company on my own so i did everything from SEO, websites and so on. Nowadays i use content writers, website developers and sometimes some SEO services which i buy as a service. Also the accountant of course who takes care of all the paperwork.

With the recent wave of consolidation, mergers and acquisitions of affiliate sites, are you surprised at all of the changes happening in the industry?

Well I’m not surprised actually, i have been in this industry for a while so i know its growing and everything is constantly changing. I can for example work with one manger this week and next with somebody else cause the first changed to a different casino. The acquisitions of affiliate sites are not a surprise either i always thought that the best thing the big guys could do is acquisition good affiliate sites so for me it was only a mater of when. I also think its a good thing with all the changes in the industry cause changes mostly means that something is developing.

A number of your competitors have gone down the real money operator route, and tried their hand at white labels. Have you also done this?

No i haven’t! I have been close to a couple of times you just out of curiosity but it always ended with me realizing it was actually better to be an affiliate then a brand owner. Just to be clear here, i mean better for me!

Developing unique content is a key pillar of your strategy. What will be your primary focus on this front over the next 6 months?

Well first of all there is going to be a lot of focus in improvement on content like for example casinopro.se which we in the end of this month (hopefully) will launch as a completely new site and this means as well we have to change and improve all content on it. What exactly that means is make it more readable, have better information + right information and simply write the best possible content.

Which markets do you focus on and do you see any potential in the emerging markets ?

I think “casino” is no longer just one market but can be divided in many. Like for example mobile casino is one market now, new brands are one market, live casino, betting and so on and since many brands nowadays offer many of these products i se it as i am in just one market which is gambling online. With that said i focus mostly on casino but if you are asking me if i have sites that are not focused on casino then yes i have lotto online, betting, scratch, bingo, virtual sport and so on. Yes i see a lot of potential in this industry, and the acquisitions of so many affiliate sites feels like a good sign from other affiliates believing it as well. One market that is small compared to casino in Sweden which i believe will become really big in future is lotto online.

How do you find Scandic & UK markets and competition?

To be honest i never saw competition! It sounds cocky but i do not mean like that. What I’m trying to say is i started this so i could get a better life for me and my family and to that i had to get good result in Google. So i do not think so much of the competition or if somebody ranks better i only think about my business. Because of that i can not say so much about other Scandinavian affiliates more then that everybody i spoked to or met is really nice people with different strategies and technics. Uk market is still new for me but in the short period of time i have been working with the Uk market i found it much easier to work with then the Scandinavian market. Im not sure if Scandinavian affiliates are harder competition or if the UK market has much many words to rank for and therefor easier to get visibility but I’m pretty sure i will be working much more with the UK market in future.

How have Google’s algorithm updates affected the way you go about traffic generation, SEO and content at your company?

To start with i have not been affected negatively by any of Googles updates so for me this means im doing something  good and that’s what i will continue to do but just as mentioned before when you asked me about content – i will continue improve as much i can. One thing i had to do with old sites recently is to make them mobile friendly.

Are there any exciting plans in the works that you can tell us about?

Actually there is =). I already mentioned it above but just in case you missed it we are developing a completely new casinopro.se which we hope will be live in a month or less. Also we are building ElitCasinon.com which is meant to be one of the best casino guides in Sweden where only the best Swedish brands are listed.

What is the main thing that you’d like Sigma readers to know about your sites?

They are created with love! I never think about making money when i build or work with a site. Its always about improvements. How can i make it more interesting, how can i help the reader or how can i get others to trust my site.

What challenges and opportunities has the move to mobile presented you with?

Going mobile has been a problem for me for some of my older sites, but not a to big problem. Just a problem that took some time i could have spent on much funnier things. Opportunities – well yes a lot of the traffic comes from mobile nowadays and Google focusing more on mobile friendly sites made me to make my sites more mobile friendly which resulted in better results.

What do you see as the biggest challenges ahead for your business and the wider affiliate sector in 2017?

The biggest challenge i think will be quality. Until now quality has played a big role in SEO but im getting the feeling that quality is going to be even more important in 2017. So to create the best quality site takes both time, resources, and knowledge. It is a challenge i think google created to make us create the best sites possible.

What two pieces of advice would you give to any new affiliate starting today?

Work every day and focus on writing good content.

Do you play slots and what would you do with 1 million Euro from jackpot winnings?

Yes of course i do sometimes. I like playing NetEnt slots like Jack and the Beanstalk, Mega Fortune Dreams and Twin Spin. However, i must admit videopoker is my absolutely favourite game in all casinos. I would probably take the whole family on a nice vacation plus give some of it to each member of my family.

Ermin Rajic runs the affiliate company Media Clever Sweden AB, which started in 2015 with sites like www.casinopro.se, www.elitcasinon.com and www.freespins24h.se in its portfolio.