Meet Milica and Bane from AskGamblers

SiGMA met Milica and Bane from AskGamblers for an interview about the company and their thoughts about the industry.

Hello Milica and Bane, how are you? Are you ready for the Tallin Affiliate Grand Slam 2017 and SiGMA17?

Hi Marius, we are beyond excited to be visiting Tallinn and Malta. Meeting people from the industry and having the opportunity to talk to them face-to-face is always a rewarding experience, so we are greatly looking forward to both conferences.

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

AskGamblers is an award-winning casino affiliate website and a prominent name in the iGaming industry. Last year it was acquired by Catena Media, a rapidly growing multi-brand performance marketing company. We are proud to say that AskGamblers has remained an inextricable and important member of the company, and a product that will only continue to grow, expand and set standards in the future.

milica-slack

Milica Slack

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

We believe that these changes are highly beneficial, as can be seen from our very example. Brands are stronger when they’re united and we, too, have only grown stronger with the merger.

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 most certainly haven’t. AskGamblers is an affiliate website and we plan on keeping it that way. Our success is the result of carefully planned affiliate marketing strategies, high quality content and SEO and constant developing endeavors and improvements and we couldn’t be more pleased.

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

Our content team comes up with creative solutions on a daily basis and focuses on creating engaging and unique content regularly. As we intend to further expand on the internet, we constantly work on innovative ways to present promotions and harness the strength of our united brands. Furthermore, it is our goal to continue to provide players with unbiased information that will guide them towards quality casino operators and a safe gaming experience.

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

While the UK and Nordic markets are our primary focus, we do intend to become a stronger presence in Europe. From there on we eventually intend to explore other market opportunities, as well.

How do you find UK market and competition?

The competition is truly fierce and there are numerous websites trying to get ahead. We, however, try not to be as focused on the competition and, instead, make it our business to be – and stay – the best at what we do with our first-rate content and high-quality offers.

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

We invest incredible amounts of time and energy into creating high-quality content and that is what makes AskGamblers unique. We truly feel privileged to have gained such popularity in the iGaming industry through organic traffic. We’re aware of the importance and benefits of SEO and we constantly work on securing our undisputed position in the industry.

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

We’re always on the lookout for new and exciting ideas for website improvements. That said, we don’t want to spoil anything beforehand. All we can say is: keep an eye on AskGamblers, stay tuned and you won’t be disappointed!

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

Although AskGamblers is a leading website in the iGaming industry, it is also part of Catena Media, a huge machinery that is only going to become stronger and more excellent down the line. We’re proud to be member of the Catena family that, alongside JohnSlots, RightCasino, SBAT and Mr Bet, to name a few brands, is at the very heart of the industry.

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

Mobile phones, and more specifically smartphones, have undoubtedly changed the way players consume the generated content. That is why we adjusted our content to be fully accessible on mobile devices a while ago and we constantly strive to follow the latest trends. Hence, the AskGamblers mobile apps for Android and iOS devices are continually improved and updated.

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

Some of the biggest challenges are staying at the top and continuing to acquire new users in a purely organic way. Exploring and conquering new markets will surely be a challenge, too, as will the increase of high value leads that operators receive through the partnership with Catena.

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

For one, create a brand that is as different as possible from the others or find a way to improve an already existing idea. And two, give it all you have. It may be difficult and even seem downright impossible at times, but if you power through it, the whole experience will reward you with excitement and creativity and ultimately prove to be worthwhile.

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

We’d organize an unforgettable team building event on an exotic island for the entire industry. How’s that sound?

Meet Viktorija Antanaviciute from iBus Media Group

SiGMA met Viktorija Antanaviciute from iBus Media Group, for an interview about her business and thoughts about the industry.

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

Hi Marius, as it is just around the corner, I am really looking forward to attending the Tallinn Affiliate Grand Slam 2017, and spending some great time with industry colleagues. In 2016 I attended SIGMA, and it was a great overall experience.

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

PokerNews was started back in 2002 by Tony G, and at that time PokerNews was one of the early starters in online poker community. I joined the company in 2012, when iBus Media had already grown into multi-channel company with PokerNews and our affiliate network OnlineAffiliateWorld leading the way. And five years later I still enjoy every day working here together with the ever-growing team.

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

iBus Media currently has two divisions, classed as B2C and B2B.  B2C includes our Portals and Networks and PMD (Performance Marketing Dimensions), and B2B offers effective marketing solutions to our partners.

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

The industry is becoming more and more competitive and the margins are becoming smaller, so the changes as a result of this are not so surprising.

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?

This is not something that we are looking at doing in the short term, we are more concerned with concentrating on the more traditional affiliate path as opposed to going down the operator route. This may change in the medium to long term.

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

PokerNews covers a lot of live events across the world, so as usually we will be ahead of everyone else to bring our audience the freshest updates from the events. And we have some exciting ones on the way with WSOP starting in May, followed by our very own PokerNews CUP and many other events in between.

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

In 2017 our focus stays on Western Europe and Scandinavia, as well as Canada. I do see a lot of potential in LatAm region, specifically in Brazil – so this will be one of the emerging markets to focus on.

How do you find Scandic markets and competition?

I would say that for Poker Scandic markets are not that saturated as, for example, UK so there is definitely room for further growth in this niche.

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

The recent changes actually turned out to be very good for us, as we saw improvements across our rankings. Overall iBusMedia and PokerNews has always had a very strong and agile SEO team, and changes in Google algorithm updates have not had a significant impact for iBus.

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

After two years away PokerNews is back as the official live reporting partner of the World Series of Poker. It is very exciting and of course very busy times for us, as we will have more than 30 people on the ground in Las Vegas during the WSOP. Also, we are planning some exciting things with our Partners during WSOP – so keep an eye on that!

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

We always strive to be one step ahead in everything that we do in both B2C and B2B. Take a look not only at PokerNews, but also at our rapidly growing portal CasinoSmash – I promise, those guys will make you want to play!

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

For us, primarily working as an affiliate media company the main challenge is tracking and focusing on the perfect conversion funnel. Thanks to our Business Intelligence team, I am confident to say that we have a lot of innovative solutions that helps us to track live data and adjust accordingly, making sure that our audience has the best experience on PokerNews and our Clients are happy with the results.

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

As for every affiliate and advertiser across the market, I think the main challenges will be related to legal updates, happening across Europe.

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

Focus on growing your audience and knowing it inside-out, and be very proactive with the Advertisers – usually we are missing opportunities, because we simply don’t ask for them. Or just join OnlineAffiliateWorld and our team will help and guide you in every step of the way!

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

Remember me mentioning earlier that Casino Smash team will make anyone want to play? So actually, thanks to them I started playing slots in the last year! Well, if I would win 1 million Euros, I would keep on working at PokerNews, but everyone who knows me – also know that I would love to start a business in the fashion industry.

Viktorija Antanaviciute is the Commercial Director of the iBus Media Group, managing and representing PokerNews, CasinoSmash, Online Affiliate World and other projects. She is an experienced and passionate marketing and affiliate professional with a wealth of iGaming knowledge.

Meet Jens Ribacka, co-founder of the company Ribacka Group AB

We met Jens Ribacka, co-founder of Ribacka Group AB, for an interview about his business and thoughts about the industry.

Hello Jens, how are you? Are you ready for  the Tallinn Affiliate Grand Slam 2017 and SiGMA17?

Hello Marius, always a pleasure talking to you and the great people behind SIGMA. I am excited about the conference and would not miss it for the world. You guys sure know how to host amazing events and I know that the Tallinn Affiliate Grand Slam will be a blast!

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

Ironically enough it all started when my brother entered the words “How to make money online” in Google. Neither of us had any prior experience in online marketing but both of us instantly fell in love with the idea of making money online.

Jens Ribacka photo

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

Our company is called Ribacka Group and it is a family company that me and my brother founded in 2015. We both come from a background in finance so naturally our affiliate journey started in that direction. It did not take long before we found a SEO strategy that we believed in and started exploring additional markets. After spending a lot of time analyzing we chose a few markets that we knew had great potential. We started creating affiliate websites about hosting, credit cards, teeth whitening (believe it or not), unions and of course gambling. The “easy” markets didn’t take long before they started to generate a good amount of revenue, but we knew that gambling was going to take time. In the beginning of 2016 we decided to shift our main focus to gambling and basically invest all our time and effort into casino and betting because of the enormous potential.

Today we are 12 people in the company and about 75% of our revenue comes from gambling affiliation. Our main office is in Sweden where my brother works with most of our employees. I decided to move to Malta in the middle of 2016 so that we could establish better relationships and get closer to our business partners. The gambling affiliation business builds mostly on trust and living in Malta makes it easy to meet and create a mutual trust with our beloved partners.

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?

This is something that we have thought about doing but in the end decided not to. Operating an online casino and making it into a profitable business is not easy. We want to optimize the time that we have and focus on what we are good at. Affiliate marketing is our bread and butter and we will continue to do what we love and push our company in the right direction.

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

Good quality content has always been a priority for us. We intend to always keep improving and keep the focus on quality before quantity. Today we have 5 content writers that are posting content every day on our websites. Our plan for the next couple of months is to hire several in-house content writers that always strive for perfection and keep posting great content for the visitors of our websites.

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

The Swedish market was an easy choice for us since that is where my brother and I are from. We still invest a lot of time and money to develop new marketing sources in Sweden but have also started to build sites that are targeting the UK and the rest of the world. The UK is the largest market today when it comes to online gambling but I believe that this will change within the next 3 years. Markets like Brazil, Spain and the US has huge potential and they will without a doubt have the biggest amount of online casino players in the future.

How do you find Scandinavian market and competition?

The Scandinavian market is great when it comes to casino and betting. The player value is very high and there is a big demand on online gambling. These aspects have obviously made the competition tough and I would say that Sweden is one of the hardest countries in the world to succeed in the google rankings within iGaming.

We also have a gambling license coming up which is expected to take place in the beginning of the year 2019. The goal of this license is to keep the serious operators that is targeting Sweden and get rid of the less serious ones. We believe that this will be a positive change for the online gaming market in Sweden since it will most likely raise the player value of the Swedish players.

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

Our SEO strategy has always been slow-paced with a big attention to detail. We like to take our time and analyze every step of the way. If you have been in the SEO game for a long time you know that it takes time and that it is normal to bounce up and down in the search results. The key is to learn by doing and always adapt to the new algorithm. We see a bright future for us and we look forward to new updates and challenges.

We have also started to develop traffic sources that are not dependent on SEO and google to minimize the risks. 50% of our traffic today comes from those types of sources.

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

We are currently working on our biggest project yet which is an affiliate website that is going to target all the countries in the world where you can gamble online. We chose the powerful domain name GamblingAdvisor.com for this project and we are confident that it will be a huge success.

Another thing that we are doing today is a complete makeover of our two best performing sites. Spelsidor.se is our first affiliate site within casino and it is getting a new design and a new back-end which will be a lot more optimized for SEOand conversion. We are doing the same changes for Speltips.se which is our biggest affiliate site within betting.

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

We always strive to deliver high-valued customers from our affiliate sites and this means focusing on the smaller but better keywords. Our sites focus on converting visitors to players and will do so by providing useful information and guide the costumer to make the best choice.

What do you see as the biggest challenges ahead for your business?

The biggest challenge for us right now is hiring the right kind of people. This is probably something that most companies struggle with and our plan is to offer something more than just a job. We believe that inspiration and leadership is the key to attracting great employees that will want to join our affiliate family and grow together as a whole.

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

Be persistent and patient in your journey to become a successful affiliate. It is important to not just focus on the money to be made but instead to build something that has real value and that you are proud to call your own creation.

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

I never play slots online but if I would win 1 million Euro I would use it to do something fun with the people that I love the most in this world; my amazing family.

Jens Ribacka is 24 years old and is the co-founder of the company Ribacka Group AB. In approximately 2 years’ time he and his brother Jesper Ribacka have built their company which now has over 40 affiliate money sites within 10 different niches and many other innovative marketing sources.

Meet Andreas Holmsten, COO at Casino Wings

We met Andreas Holmsten, COO at Casino Wings, for an interview about his business and thoughts about the industry.

Hello Andreas! Are you ready for the Tallinn Affiliate Grand Slam 2017 and SiGMA17?

Hello Marius! Everything is great here! We are definitely excited to visit both Tallinn and the Affiliate Grand Slam for the first time. It’s always fun to see new events like these popping up and we can’t wait to meet and greet with new faces!

Earlier visits to SiGMA has proven to be fruitful for our business, and we will definitely be attending this year as well.

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

Like most great ideas, it all started while having a few innocent drinks in Malta in 2015. At that time, I was living on the island working in the iGaming sector already. I didn’t know a lot about SEO or affiliation, but Robert was no stranger to any of the concepts, having sold his first affiliate company at the age of 17. The cream of the crop was Sebastian’s insane design and developer-skills. We went to high-school together, and even back then he was a pure talent!

Adding our skill sets together, we realized we could potentially come up with something solid, and a few months later – Casino Wings was born.

Andreas Holmsten

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

As mentioned, we work in a team of 3. Robert and Sebastian are currently living in Sweden, and I am based in Malta.

Naturally we started out in Sweden and our flagship site Casino Wings is a straight up SEO site. At the moment we have sites on a variety of markets, and we’ll be launching a Finnish version of Casino Wings in time for the Affiliate Grand Slam.

We focus on quality rather than quantity, and to stay assured of that, we only partner up with casinos we’d play on ourselves.

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 strive to be on the customer’s side in the jungle of casinos that is out there today. Our content is always based on personal experience and I believe that this is where we stand out the most. Building trust is something we are working hard with as well. We want to be the source for the most accurate casino and bonus information on the market.

How do you find Scandic markets and competition?

The Swedish market is by far the trickiest one. As mentioned, the competition is tough and has been for a long time. On top of that, Swedish casino players are probably the most experienced and educated ones today. They are also a quite spoiled when it comes to preferences. We try to treat them accordingly.

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

We do a lot of work towards optimizing the user experience for our visitors. Google is updating their algorithms to give their visitors the most relevant and accurate information out there, so that is “simply” what you need to bring to the table.

An example is from 2015, when Google started giving priority to websites that displays well on smartphones. Pure logic, since the smartphone traffic was increasing significantly at that time. I guess what I am trying to say is that we try to be one step ahead at all time.

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

As previously mentioned, we are launching in Finland very soon. We have a couple of other projects that we are working on, but I can’t really give you any further information right now.

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

What’s not to love? More mobile users means that we can interact with casino players even when they are out and about. We had our site fully optimized for mobile even before we launched, and since the mobile users represent 50 % of our visitor-base, Mobile’s always been a core pillar of our business.

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

Our biggest challenges for 2017 will be entering new and exciting markets, while constantly developing new and cool features for our flagship sites.

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

  1. The classic one: Go deep rather than wide
  2. Study the market and stay up to date

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

Sometimes, but not very often. I think after a few crazy nights of drinking, we’d invest what’s left of it! 🙂

Meet Mathias, Anton and Erik from CasinoDaddy Group Ltd

SiGMA met Mathias, Anton and Erik from CasinoDaddy Group Ltd, for an interview about his business and thoughts about the industry.

Hi Mathias, are you ready for the Tallinn Affiliate Grand Slam 2017 and SiGMA17?

Hi Marius, yes very excited for both events. Major affiliate conferences are always a lot of fun, and it’s great to be able to catch up with a lot of our contacts that we don’t see very often and find out what exciting new things they’ve got planned.

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

Our company is equally owned and operated by myself and my two brothers. We have occasional assistance from friends and freelancers, but the vast majority of our work is done by the three of us.

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

We haven’t found the changes very surprising at all. The affiliate industry has become extremely saturated, and in a saturated environment not every company or site will effectively be able to carve out a profitable niche for themselves.

In situations like that mergers and consolidations make sense. Many brands quite rightly believed that they are simply stronger together.

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?

It’s something that we’ve discussed, but it’s certainly not something we’re looking at moving forwards with yet. If the right opportunity came up i’m sure it’s something that we would be interested in exploring, but for now we are just enjoying our success as an affiliate.

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

Our YouTube and Twitch.tv presence is growing every single day, and that is a testament to the amount of effort we put into creating unique and exciting content for our viewers. We are rapidly becoming one of the Internet’s top providers of live casino video content, and it has been the key to our success as affiliates.

Over the next six months we’re going to double down on both platforms. More streams, more videos, more reasons to watch, and more of the same great content that has got us where we are today.

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

We primarily serve the Nordic market, with a special focus on our home nation of Sweden.

There is undoubtedly a lot of value in the emerging markets, and it seems like we get requests for offers for new countries almost every day. We never want to turn players away without giving them something, so it would be great to be able to offer more to those coming from emerging nations. But ultimately we know where our best strengths lie as affiliates, and that’s in our home region.

How do you find Scandinavian market and competition?

There are a number of competitors operating in a very similar space to us in the region, but we are confident that we can offer value above and beyond what they do.

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

The short answer is that we now have to put a lot more effort into the creation and curation of our web content. Today, affiliates simply can’t afford to not think “SEO first” when it comes to managing their sites.

We are in a very privileged position because we generate a lot of organic traffic through platforms other than Google. Our YouTube and Twitch.tv channels attract significant audiences based on the merits of the content contained therein. Then, we use those platforms as a springboard to drive viewers towards our affiliate pages and offers.

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

We have a few things in the pipeline at the moment, but you’ll have to keep your eyes on www.dincasinobonus.se and www.aboutslots.com to see when we’re ready to go public with them!

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

The biggest thing to know about our sites is that they are just one part of our growing content and affiliate brand. Each site is able to stand alone, but because they are supported by the CasinoDaddy YouTube and Twitch.tv channels, they both attract a lot of organic traffic.

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

Mobile has presented obvious challenges regarding how we manage and optimize our websites, but it has also helped to create some amazing opportunities for us.

Mobile has changed the way players consume and browse content. As people that create the kind of on-demand and streamed video content that players now love to watch through their mobile devices, mobile has brought huge benefits for us.

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

The biggest challenge for our business is certainly going to be ensuring that we use our time effectively. As we increase the effort and time we put into creating great content, we don’t want other important affiliate responsibilities to take a back seat.

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

Firstly, if you’re just starting out as an affiliate, you need to spend a good amount of time thinking about how you’re going to set yourself and your brand apart from the rest of the affiliates out there. What is it that you can do or offer people over and above what others already provide?

Secondly, if you want to be a successful affiliate you need to throw yourself into it completely. Set a lot of time aside to maintain your site and brand, and never start viewing your affiliate responsibilities as something that you “just do on the side”.

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

We certainly do play slots, and honestly, if we hit a 1 million Euro jackpot we would share a big chunk of it with the CasinoDaddy community. Without our viewers and players we would be nothing, so we always like to give back to them whenever possible.

Mathias Joelsson is the co-founder of CasinoDaddy Group Ltd and also runs a few Scandinavian facing gambling guides including www.aboutslots.com and www.dincasinobonus.se/.

Meet Callie Dove, co-founder & director at AGS Media Group Ltd

SiGMA met Callie Dove, co-founder and director at AGS Media Group Ltd, for an interview about her business and thoughts about the industry.

Hello Callie, how are you? Are you ready for the Tallinn Affiliate Grand Slam 2017 or SiGMA17?

Hey Marius, I’m great, thanks for asking. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to make it to the Affiliate Gram Slam this year, but it looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to SIGMA 2017 of course. It’s really great to see new events growing in popularity which offer something different in the iGaming world.

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

I’ve been working in iGaming for over 10 years now, as many know I come from an affiliate management background. I did originally start out as a poker affiliate manager back in 2007. Along the way, I’d always wanted to “cross to the other side” and was very curious about it. It wasn’t until a random chat a few years back with Robert, my AGS Media Group co-founder that we decided to work together, bringing our own skill sets to the table; and AGS Media Group was created.

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

We like to keep things as simple as possible. There are 2 of us working full time. I’m running the day to day business and taking care of content, strategy, accounts and so on. Anything on the technical side is handled by Robert -that’s out of my area!

We also have a freelance content writer who has been working with us for some time too. Although we’re based in 2 separate countries, we talk a lot, plan a lot and make sure we’re meeting up face to face at least every 5 weeks.

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 surprised really, it makes sense that huge companies buy up the competition and monopolize on traffic with big budgets and resources. Although some acquisitions have surprised me, I think it will be a trend that continues and we’ll be seeing some interesting acquisitions this year 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?

No, I don’t think it’s on the cards for us. We’re happy to continue to grow our business as it is and stick to something we enjoy.

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’ll continue this strategy and provide unique content across our sites; add new sites, review new slots and casinos as they launch. I think players like to try out new casinos and it makes sense to review them and keep with the times.

Which markets do you focus on and do you see any potential in the emerging markets ? How do you find UK market and competition?

For www.allgamblingsites.com, the UK is our primary focus, and although we have sites focusing on Australia, we’re holding off working on them until the legislation situation becomes clearer. The UK market is becoming more and more competitive, especially with recent acquisitions and additional affiliates who are now targeting the UK market, who were not before.

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

There’s some kind of update almost on a monthly basis now, and I think these days it’s important to play it safe and stick to guidelines. The bottom line is that Search Engines appreciate helpful and engaging content that helps the user. If we need to adapt anything, we do and if needed, make changes and make some tests. We think it’s important to try new ideas and not get stuck in your comfort zones.

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

Just to keep on growing sites and the business in general.

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

All of our sites are mobile and AMPresponsive. We’re enjoying the shift to more and more mobile users; I definitely think conversion is higher.

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

The biggest challenges are probably what any SEO affiliate faces – staying visible in SERPS and facing stiffer competition, especially with the stronger affiliate companies who have more resources and budget.

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

I would say don’t give up; you have the chance to make a success, but give yourself time to succeed. It’s cliched, but building up traffic and sites takes time, hard work and patience. Don’t cut corners with SEO and don’t be afraid to reach out and talk to fellow affiliates for tips.

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

I play some progressive slots like Mega Fortune when the jackpot is huge but generally speaking when I’m not working, I’m not thinking about slots or playing at online casinos!

As for winning £1 Million jackpot; I’d invest in a small side business, something totally brand new, exciting and outside of iGaming. I’d also like to take some of that money and buy a (small!) apartment in the Alps somewhere.

 

Meet Björn Einarsson, the co-founder & co-owner of Beck Solutions

SiGMA met Björn Einarsson, the co-founder & co-owner of Beck Solutions, for an interview about his business and thoughts about the industry.

BjörnEinarssonHello Bjorn, how are you? Are you ready for Tallinn Affiliate Grand Slam and SiGMA17?

Hello Marius, I’m doing good thanks! I am very eager to go there now. It’s always nice to meet other people in the business, both affiliates and operators. Besides, I’ve never been to Tallinn so the Grand Slam conference in a couple of days will be interesting.

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

It probably started when I was working with R&D at a Swedish gaming company 12 years ago. I was working with casino games but also back office systems including the affiliate system. I realized you could be greatly rewarded when doing a good job. Since then I’ve been working in another industry as an employee but I’ve always been eager to start my own business. In my spare time I’ve created some websites and had an interest in SEO. A couple of years ago me and my colleague decided to quit our employments and enter this business.

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

It’s a Swedish company. It’s me and my colleague doing most of the daily work consisting of research, coding, content writing, optimization etc. We have some outsourcing when it comes to content writing as well. Although I’ve been working with gaming earlier in my career, doing affiliate marketing in the area is pretty new for our company. We also work with other businesses in the affiliate sector.

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

Not really. Perhaps more surprised of the pace and how aggressively it goes.

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 have had some first thoughts about doing that and done some research. We have decided to not do that at the moment.

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 have a lot of things to work on, not only content. When it comes to content our focus is to have value-adding and high quality information rather than focusing on number of words.

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

Currently our only market is Sweden. It would be really interesting to enter the emerging markets. I think we’ll do that rather than the traditional gaming countries.

How do you find Scandinavian market and competition?

The competition in Sweden is probably nothing to compare with the Americas for instance, but it’s not easy. For the sake of the operators and us as affiliates indirectly, we’ll see what happens here in Sweden, if the changes in the law regarding tax and monopoly comes into force.

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

We have always tried to focus on the visitors of our sites, focusing on getting returning visitors. We have done mistakes and been punished by Google updates and learned from that.

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

We have only seen benefits of the shift to mobile phone visitors. The conversion is better. The challenges is to create a good UX including the content needed on smaller devices.

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

Our primary focus is to keep happy visitors on our sites and of course keep along with the updates from google. Further on there are regulations that we must be prepared on.

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

Focus on quality. We have seen enough of spam sites on the web.
You can’t make a living of it over the night. It takes time to build up good sites.

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

It happens that I play for fun, without expectation to win. Not that much online except for when needed to write reviews of the games. Sometimes I play slots at land based casinos. If I won 1 million euros I would make the market even more consolidated 😉

Björn Einarsson (Swedish nationality) is the co-founder and co-owner of Beck Solutions running the casino affiliate website Casinofinder but also a lot of affiliate sites in other markets.

 

Meet Bryan Bailey, Director of Casinomeister

SiGMA met Bryan Bailey, Director of Casinomeister, for an interview about his business and thoughts about the industry.

Bryan BaileyHello Bryan, how are you? Are you ready for the SiGMA17?

I’m fine. And yes, I am ready to peruse the crowd and stay out of trouble.

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

For me, it was entirely serendipitous. I started Casinomeister as a semi-hobby site. In the late nineties, I was working for a small translation firm in San Diego – we translated websites and software packages. We ended up translating some online casinos which I thought was a total joke. Playing Blackjack online with your credit card – and the company is in the Caribbean? What a joke! One company (World Gaming) owed us about $3k which they never paid – so yeah, the first rogues.

About the same time, one of the local San Diego casinos approached us – they had a Cryptologic site – and they want to have it translated in four European languages, but they had their reservations. “Translations are expensive. How will the public know that we are the good guys? That we aren’t shady crooks from the Caribbean?” And that’s when I suggested that I could make a website – have some casino news on it, maybe have a guestbook or forum (this was 1998), and a list of good casinos (like theirs), and a list of bad casinos (like the jerks who didn’t pay us). And since I was planning to eventually move to Germany, I could call it “Casinomeister” – I could use it to practice my German.

Casinomeister

Well, that worked. I launched the site in June 98, and within a few months, we were getting about 35 – 50 people on the site per day. In November, I published our first newsletter to about 60 people. We had a forum (html flat files), and around this time we started getting people to complain about their treatment at certain online casinos. I had no clue on casino games, frankly I couldn’t care less about them, but I liked interacting with people and I would do what I could to find points of contact at whatever casino the person was complaining about. Most of these casino managers were grateful, and they would subscribe to my newsletter, or join our forum. That’s about the time they offered to buy advertising space at Casinomeister, or pay revenue share – 5-10%. “Wow!” I thought, “10% is more than twice you’d get at Amazon.com – how awesome is that?!” So at this time, I was able to monetize on my hobby website.

I moved to Germany in November 99, still working for the translation company – but that company went bust within months – and I soon found myself jobless in a foreign country. At this time, I was making a little bit of money from the site – enough to pay half of the bills, and I figured if I put 100% of my effort into the site, it should work out.

I had already set up standards for advertisers (I would not take just anybody on), and the Rogue Casino section was launched in 2000. In December 2000, I decided to attend my first conference, the ICE 2001 in London – and that was a turning point of Casinomeister.

I discovered that most of the iGaming industry folks had been using my site as a reference – on what players were thinking and how they behaved. Most everyone knew the site Casinomeister, and this is when I was able to establish my contacts and professional relationships with the online casino industry pioneers.

That was then – this is now.

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

It’s me, Max (our venerable complaints manager), Vortran007 (our warning robot), Protecto, a couple of content writers, and a couple of back end developers to assist with the new awesome website. That’s it.

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

Nope, I’m not at all surprised. Surviving in this industry is tough – it’s easier by a consolidation of resources.

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?

I would never want to be an operator. Too much work – and it’s got to be excruciatingly boring.

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

To keep working.

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

I focus primarily on the English speaking market mainly because I can’t be bothered with foreign languages. German is hard enough.

How do you find UK markets and competition?

I find them in London when I go there each year for the LAC and ICE. We have a pretty good time together. Their beer is good, but not as good as Germany’s.

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

I’ve never paid too much attention to Google algorithms. For me it’s content – as long as there is enough original content being produced on the site, and your HTML is sound, then you should be good to go. It’s only recently that I’ve switched to HTTPS, and made the majority of the site “phone friendly” so people can look at the site with their phones without too much aggravation.

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

I’m considering marketing action figures, Casinomeister (me), Madman Max, and Vortran007.  Produce a few thousand, and then mass dump them from C-130s across Europe and the US. It’ll probably piss a lot of people off, but just imagine the viral marketing prospects. There’s no such thing as bad publicity, y’ know. Oops, cat’s out of the bag.

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

That I make the best videos. My jokes are so funny, I even crack myself up.

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

It was a real PITA converting thousands of pages into mobile friendly pages just to appease these young folk that have to have everything on their damn phones. I can’t be bothered with playing any casino game on my phone – I need a big wide screen and a proper PC if and when I do play. We did a survey about five years ago and 25% of or members didn’t even have smart phones. But times change, and you have to roll with the punches I guess.

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

To make affiliate programs understand that there is the right way and the wrong way of doing business. There are quite a number of affiliate programs that think that implementing retroactive predatory terms is acceptable and it’s par for the course. It’s not – it’s unethical and should not be tolerated by anyone. Affiliates don’t realize that they are being screwed over by these affiliate programs. Casinomeister reports on not only rogue casino operations, but on those affiliate programs who take the same dodgy path.

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

Actually – I’m giving three:

Number one, be very careful who you do business with. Generally speaking, most of the larger affiliate programs (William Hill, Ladbrokes, etc.) don’t give a care about the affiliate. They are there only for the money and will throw you under the bus in a New York minute. So do your due diligence – read the terms and conditions carefully – beware of anything predatory like “if you are not able to produce more than x amount of players per quarter your rev share will be reduced to 10%” or something of that nature. That’s a bullshit rogue term. What happens if you become incapacitated, or you are unable to work in that jurisdiction? Terms like that are unnecessary and stem from thoughtless greed.  Additionally, affiliate programs that market casinos that rip off players will in turn rip you off. So be careful who you do business with.

Number two: join the casinos, play the games, understand how the casinos work. Players are looking for an knowledgeable voice – be that voice and care what about you are promoting.

Number three: you are not selling shoes online – you are promoting gambling and you should never forget that. Take problem gambling seriously, and always try to assist others in their time of need. Make sure you abide by proper standards of marketing.

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

I would probably invest it into my dream of making a Tiki head factory. That’s one of my plans for when I retire.

Bryan Bailey has been running Casinomeister for over eighteen years. He provides the direction of the site, writes most of its content, produces three newsletters, the occasional video, and provides consultations to players, affiliates, and operators via the forum or other means of communication.

Affiliates & hosts to feast at Olde Hansa after conference

We picked a cosy restaurant in the heart of this charming old town in Tallinn for our 200+ affiliates. After a busy day discussing Nordic traffic, we feast like vikings!olde-hansa-5

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Meet Jarkko Hyttinen, the manager of Pokerisivut.com

SiGMA met Jarkko Hyttinen, the manager of Pokerisivut.com, for an interview about his business and thoughts about the industry.

Hello Jarkko, how are you? Are you ready for the Tallinn Affiliate Grand Slam and SiGMA17?

Hello Marius! I’m very well thank you for asking. It’s the busiest time of the year here, so we are heading towards summer with a full throttle. Unfortunately we have so much going on this spring, that I have to skip that Grand Slam event in Tallinn, but of course coming to Sigma once again.

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

Well this is a long story but I will tell you a short version of it. I think it was Christmas 2013 when I was still living and working in Finland, and got a very good friend of mine to visit me for a holiday. This friend was Ville Sissonen, who was a head of Pokerisivut back then. Then – like it usually goes in Finland – we were having a sauna and couple of beers, one thing led to another, and soon we have agreed that I will be joining the Pokerisivut team in Malta. I came to sunny Malta in march 2014 and the same trip is still going on. So couple of years I had a chance to learn from the best all about this industry and now Ville is MD in Good Game ltd, and I’m running Pokerisivut business.

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

There has been quite a lot of changes during my time here in Pokerisivut. When I came here, Pokerisivut was a part of the company called Plus one Dreams. Then at some point Plus one Dreams was merged with iGame and we came a part of iGame Group. 2015 Unibet made an huge acquisition of whole iGame group and after that we have been a part of Unibet / Kindred Group.

Pokerisivut office, where the magic happens with our two main websites, pokerisivut.com and pokeritieto.com is located in St Julian’s here in Malta. We have a team of 3 people here and in addition to this we have a bunch of freelancers working for us around the world. Of course we have a huge amount of different kind of talent in the Kindred Group, and Pokerisivut is using resources from several other teams in the group.

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 really not surprised about that. In my experience it’s just the nature of the business, regardless of the industry. Big and ambitious companies obviously want to grow and take a big bite of the market. Mergers and acquisitions is just one way to get growth.

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, as we are a part of Kindred Group, there is enough operators in da house and we don’t need to put our spoon in that soup. Of course it’s very nice that I have a chance to see close how our operator side professionals are working and time to time have a chat and cup of coffee and exchange some ideas with them.

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 have been actively researching what kind of unique content we should produce to keep our content the best in the market. Lately we have produced for example “Pokeripaneeli” talk show with poker professionals and that is going to have next episode during summer. In next 6 months we are publishing very unique and rare content in the form of high quality and professional strategy videos – in Finnish language, and for free.

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

We are focusing 100% for a Finnish market. For sure there is a lot of potential in the emerging markets, but for now we keep our focus in Finnish market only.

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

Basically it haven’t affected at all. We have very strong know-how regarding SEO in our company so there hasn’t been any surprises.

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

Yes we have exciting plans going on! At the moment we have site renewal project under production for both of our main websites, and what can I tell you for now – those are going to be super cool! Plenty of new functionalities and technology combined to kick ass content. Pokerisivut won the Best Poker Website trophy in LAC this year, and after this site renewal I guess that 2018 trophy is going to end to my desk as well.

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

Our sites are based on high quality, unique content. We want to give our site visitors the best possible user experience and on the other hand we want to deliver best possible quality traffic for our partners.

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

For innovative and creative affiliate, this just offers fantastic opportunities.

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

As a poker website, main challenges has been the same many years; market is just decreasing all the time. But even it is a challenge, at the same time it is also an opportunity. Once again, smart and innovative dudes can make big changes – so let’s just make poker great again!

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

Come to Sigma for socializing and networking, that’s a good start!

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

Yeah. Actually I love to play some slots once in a while. If I win a million, I would probably invest most of that, but for sure I would arrange something super fun for my family and friends!

Jarkko Hyttinen is the manager of Pokerisivut.com, which is the Best Poker Website winner at the iGB Affiliate Awards 2017.