Meet Shino B, Operations manager Japan at Game Lounge

We met Shino B, Operations manager Japan at Game Lounge Ltd, for an interview about www.japanesecasino.com and thoughts about the industry.

Hello Shino, how are you? Are you ready for SiGMA17?

Hi Marius! Yes, I am very excited to find out more about the new style casinos, payment methods and regulations.

Despite the fact that Japanese Market is very unique, I like to get inspiration and new ideas from various operators all over the world.

Last but not the least, I always loved meeting interesting people who work for different casino operators and who are interested in Japanese and Asian markets.  It is very exciting to discuss the situation on the Japanese market, its prospects and make comparisons between Europe, Japan and other Asian markets.

This mixture of cultures and different styles of business management always makes me very excited. I like positive ambitious people and conversations so it is never boring!

Shino B, Game Lounge

How did you enter the online gaming sector and set up your market?

I was working for one of the Forex brokers as an operations manager for Japan. At that time, online casino was not that popular in Japan like it is nowadays.

However, I was always interested in the online casino industry since affiliate is the biggest key to get traffic for all these industries, online Forex, binary options and casino market.

It is well known that casino players and binary option traders are in a very similar market segment. So I was often seeing the casino affiliate sites when I was looking for new affiliates for Forex.

As time passed the Japanese market started getting more attention and I had an opportunity to jump in the online casino market so I joined one of the casino operators.

When working for a casino operator I was always working close to affiliates, and I wanted to see the industry from an affiliate point of view, wanted to learn how to promote the casinos that are interested in the Japanese market. So now I am working in the right place, Game Lounge Ltd.

Can you tell us a little bit about Game Lounge strategy regarding the Japanese online gaming market?

Game Lounge is very strong in Europe especially in the Nordic market.

Our management got interested in the Japanese market, and we are taking it very seriously. For example, Game Lounge pays attention to a small but extremely important detail such as Japanese style graphic design.

Japanese style graphic design is very different but very important for marketing purposes for both operators and affiliates. If it is not properly done, your site might end up looking very dodgy.

To build trust with Japanese players is the hardest part of our job and it might take longer than you expect but no one can skip these details if you want to achieve success in this market.

When it comes to the design, we have our own experienced Japanese designer. If you check our website, you can tell that we are not only relying on SEO but also giving a lot of importance to content, which really helps our readers and potential players.

I believe in SEO but I think that high-quality content is equally important for the Japanese market. This might take time but it allows to build a long-term, closer relationship with players.

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

Considering the enormous number of affiliates in existence, it is not surprising at all. Game Lounge Ltd operates under the Cherry group.

However, we hold full independency regarding out marketing strategy or contents policy. Rest assured that players can get objective and fair reviews from our site.

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

We are aiming to make our site more interactive and we have a detailed plan about how to make it happen.

What is your view on the competition on the Japanese market?

Recently we realized that the number of European affiliates who open Japanese sites have increased a lot and I am very interested their growth.

Am I worried about the competition? Not at all. We have great strengths.

Firstly, it’s the fact that we are located in Malta. We can release information about operators and industry news in real time.

Secondly, we have good variety of content writers including actual players and online casino customer support experienced writers. This means our content covers all the potential queries or interest of the casino players.

This makes us stand out from many other affiliates.

Also, Game Lounge is a very strong and experienced in an online marketing company, which gives us a strong advantage in all the markets that we operate in.

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

We have just launched a European style site called Japanesecasino.com. We are planning to launch a few more sites in the upcoming months.

The second site will be focused on very experienced players, so it will be challenging but we have full confidence in this project.

The third one, I cannot tell you too many details about, but it will be a first unique trial on Japanese market. Let’s say it’s going to be a hybrid of European and Japanese styles. And I strongly believe this could start a new trend on the Japanese market.

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

You can watch great unique video content on our site, which gives strong impression and provides good branding and entertainment for our visitors. We are not just an affiliate but we are proud of being true partners of different casinos.

What challenges and opportunities have you experienced when it comes to mobile affiliate websites?

Our sites are fully responsive on mobile and tablet, and we have a good reputation in this respect. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you the details, but we have a plan to provide unique features for Japanese mobile users.

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

Currently, Japanese market has lower competition compared to the European markets. However, we believe that more affiliates will start entering the Japanese and Asian markets as we have seen the new websites opening already.

I would focus on both strengthening our advantages and catching up with the competition. In other words, we will be working with casinos closer and setting up interactive communication with players – these are our goals and challenges for growing big in the market.

What two pieces of advice would you give to any new casinos starting on the Japanese market today?

As I mentioned above, a wide variety of payment methods is the first priority. It’s a bit like a cat-and-mouse game because it’s rather complicated for the payment providers to operate in Japan. So when the new payment methods come to Japan, the casinos need be patient and catch up as soon as possible.

Also, the Japanese customer support. High quality support for the Japanese players cannot be covered by just using templates, copy and paste. Accurate information and quality customer support is the fastest way to get the trust. This will strengthen the casino’s reputation dramatically.

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

Yes, I do sometimes. Recently Game Lounge team went on the company trip to Las Vegas. Obviously, I played slots and table games. Well… with that money, I would like take all my colleagues to Japan in 2020 to watch Olympic games and bet online!

Relive the highlights from our last show and stay tuned for this year’s SiGMA. Watch out for what we’re branding as the ‘iGaming Village’ this year.

Are you an operator looking for top affiliates? Are you a top affiliate looking for a nice treat with like-minded affiliates playing at the same level?

Meet Dan Bara, pioneer of the sportsbetting news and affiliate industry in Romania

We met Dan Bara, pioneer of the sportsbetting news and affiliate industry in Romania, for an interview about the company and thoughts about the industry.

Hello Dan, how are you? Are you ready for SiGMA17?

Hi Marius! Yes, after the last year success I can definitely say that i wait very much the 2017 edition. Not only that it takes place in the cradle of the gambling industry, but also the landscape and Malta is impressive.

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

It was more than 12 years ago. I started as a sports journalist for a big media group where I had very good people from where to “steal” knowledge in this field.

Combined with my passion for sportsbetting I quickly became in charge with the biggest community for betting in Romania. Then we started the first TV show for betting in Romania and first radio show for many years.

Across the time I have lead multiple websites and betting projects for big media groups. Without modesty I can say that probably I am the person that most of the people who bet in Romania know.  Almost 2 years ago I decided to start my own project – www.pariuri1x2.ro, a decision that I will never regret.

dan-poza

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

The business is structured on multiple levels and is continuously expanding. On very short: we have more than 25 persons in the team, we produce the only 2 TV shows for betting in Romania on 2 channels with national audience, we produce the only online show for betting and on the website you can find innovative products.

In less than 2 years we reached same level as websites that are on the market for more than 10 years. All the focus is on development and expansion and we have incredible things coming up.

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

This does not happen only in affiliate industry or in gambling industry. It is a global trend and for now seems to be the future along with massive investments in technology.

This trend is 100% accurate in our small world and it only confirms that it is a industry which has a future. Still – to give my 2c the M&A’s successes depend a lot in possibility to keep/secure the oldteams in order to ensure a proper management and transfer of the business.

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?

Yes, some of them have taken this route and all I can say it is that they have a hard route ahead. The competition and innovation of the big brands makes any launch of this kind to be incredible hard and sustainable in the long term unless there is a solid investment available. This is not something that we consider doing.

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

As I said in the beginning, we have over 25 people in the team. Most of them are former journalists or have a solid experience in this industry. Our indicators show that our content is best on the market now and we always try to improve.

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

At the moment we only do  business in the Romanian market. In the future we might expand in other countries in Eastern Europe, but this is a long term plan. Any emergent market is something very tempting but we believe that this kind of business cannot succeed without a local partner and finding the right partner is the key for every new market.

How do you findRomanian market and competition?

Romanian market is still a “virgin” market i could say. Only 2 years ago the online gambling was licensed and allowed, after a dark-grey period. 12-18 months before legalizing massive advertising bans and restrictions made almost everybody to forget about online gambling and the recreational players disappeared.

The market is still under rebuilt phase and it is increasing from one month to another. Affiliate market is not very competitive, with only few big brands which rely mostly on inertia that they have historically.

End of the day, it is a very good market and potential is high, especially given the fact that it has fastest growing economy in the EU.

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

In less than 2 years we become leaders for most of the kw which are relevant for the Romanian betting industry ranking on most of them in positions 1-3. Our SEO strategy is a very clean and solid one which will ensure continuous growth and consolidation.

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

We don’t want to disclose much about our plans, but this summer will bring very big development and additions both in innovation and in expansion. We will continue to do what we do best – performance.

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

Approx. 60% of our traffic is mobile. This is a standard and will continue to go in this direction. Mobile is one of the key components that will suffer important changes in the next period and starting 2018 mobile will be number 1 priority for all developments on our side.

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

I think the biggest challenges for the affiliate sector are the same as for the gambling operators because they are connected and grow/shrink together. Fast adoption and development of adblockers make the acquisition harder and harder every day.

In same time regulatory frameworks across the world develop more and sometimes impose unnecessary restrictions that increase the expenses of the industry, leaving less space for innovation, marketing and development.

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

The market has become very competitive and is not so easy to start from 0 like few years ago. They need to be prepared for sleepless nights.In the early phases they need to read everything they find about the business, join affiliate conferences and discuss with affiliate managers + other affiliates, analyze all competitors and steal as much knowledge as possible.

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

I play slots from time to time but not at a level to win 1 million EUR. Still if I would win that amount I think I would invest it all next day.

Dan Bara is the pioneer of the sportsbetting news and affiliate industry in Romania. He is the most recognizable figure in the industry and has presented numerous sports and betting themed TV shows and radio shows while being in charge of big media teams and projects. Since 2015 he started it’s own affiliate business in Romania.

Relive the highlights from our last show and stay tuned for this year’s SiGMA. Watch out for what we’re branding as the ‘iGaming Village’ this year.

Are you an operator looking for top affiliates? Are you a top affiliate looking for a nice treat with like-minded affiliates playing at the same level?

Meet Gael Teva, Head of Marketing at Blue Window

We met Gael Teva, Head of Marketing at Blue Window, for an interview about the company and thoughts about the industry.

Hello Gael, how are you? Are you ready for SiGMA17 ?

More than ready, we are actually really looking forward to seeing what the 2017 edition of SIGMA will look like! The SIGMA conference grew up a lot within the past 2 years and we are looking forward also to what the event will bring us this year with this new venue, more opportunities and a bigger vibe.

How did you come to enter the online gaming space and join Blue Window as a Head of Marketing?

Well that’s very straight forward. I have occupied various roles within the industry since 2009, which is when I moved to Malta. From VIP manager, to marketing campaign manager to Head of B2B and finally head of affiliates for a well-known operator. It was during my last role that I got fascinated by the affiliate industry, and even more to be honest by the affiliates themselves.  I admired the way they always move forward, expanding their knowledge and capabilities in order to drive more traffic.  When I was presented with an interesting opportunity from Blue Window, I decided to cross the border and move into the affiliate landscape.

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

Just like most other startups, Blue Window was at the beginning ran by its founder and one employee. We were working with a lot of Freelancers, especially with copywriters. We slowly realized that this solution was not the best in the long run as you can’t expect the same dedication from freelancers as from employees working by your side. Blue Window Ltd. has grown steadily over the last 10 years, expanding into new markets and developing some very competitive brands thanks to a renewed strategy where all the departments are run in house by some very creative and innovative people.  Everyone is trained in-house; with specialized roles developed for the needs of each market. We have our own web/graphic designers and web developers too, which makes a big difference in terms of project management.

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 because it’s like that in every industry; bigger companies buy the smaller ones and so on.  What it does mean is that now a lot of work has to be done to remain competitive, you can’t be only one guy behind a computer screen these days. The biggest change to the industry is probably the level of professionalism you see now. Take SiGMA for example, as fun as it is, it’s a professional conference which can make a real impact on someone’s business, whereas 10 years ago industry conferences were just a big show with no substance.

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 we prefer focusing on what we are good at which is driving quality traffic to our partners. Another reason is that we like being independent, our destiny is in our hands. As soon as you start working with a white label, you, your business and therefore your success depend on a partner who sometimes has other priorities than developing your brand.

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

Unique content will always feature heavily in our strategies. The next 6 months will see us focus on creating a more immersive user experience and further developing this side of our brands. That being said, the unique content is mainly important for SEO which I believe will be over taken by other channels in the near future. The next 6 months will also be dedicated to finding new and alternative channels in order to develop and cement the future of Blue Window Ltd.

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

We focus mainly on Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Nordic and English speaking territories.  For emerging markets it’s always fun to try out new strategies because your approach for each market is unique in terms of strategy, or there is some unique selling points to take into consideration.

How do you find Scandic market and competition?

Initially we were focusing on Finland but found that the player value was actually very far from what we expected. Now we focus more of our energy on Sweden and Norway and we are enjoying some interesting results. The competition is obviously very high in terms of quantity and quality so we develop new strategies to build upon the success we’re already having, the goal being to become as important on the Nordic markets as we are on DACH.

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

Google keeps all affiliates on their toes with the way their updates work but with that being said we have a very sound strategy that doesn’t employ shady tactics or black hat that would be affected by googles updates.  This is a long game, so to do it right you play by the rules and develop something that’s going to generate a large but steady revenue over a long period. Sure you can make a quick buck in 2 months by flaunting googles rules but then you’re just dust in the wind after that.

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

A lot of our more exciting plans are always kept under wraps as you might expect but more generally it would include expanding into some new and very interesting markets with some very innovative new brand ideas. We’re also exploring some new channels which we firmly believe are part of the future for affiliates.

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

We strive to make each site a complete resource for what ever subject it deals with, like the go to guide so to speak.  For us it’s very important for players to find everything they need in one place and to really enjoy the experience too.

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

The trend has been there for many years and we anticipated this.  In the end as more and more traffic shifted across to mobile platforms, we made the transition smoothly, creating sites that were mobile friendly form the outset. Optimization and traffic conversion works differently so once we got past that we then found that there is always room to build exciting new features for mobile players and in turn make our UX more and more mobile friendly as part of the ongoing process.

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

Well the idea is to become more and more competitive in a wider range of markets.  The biggest challenge is then to identify the next channel(s) with the biggest potential and be a pioneer in order to put a big gap between ourselves and the competition early on.

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

The most important two bits of advice, well firstly don’t try to do it alone, always surround yourself with enough capable people to fully realize the idea. Second, don’t expect results before 1 or 2 years.  Good strategy and being prepared to play the long game is the key.

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

I don’t play slots, I’m more a “table game guy”: Blackjack and sometimes roulette, but if I had to win a 1 million Euro jackpot I’d probably split it! You know that saying “Work hard, party hard”? So the first split would be spent on organizing an insane party for the Blue Window gang! Why not a trip all together? That’s for the “party hard”, and regarding the “work hard” part, I’d probably invest the 2nd share into developing some very specific tools for Blue Window that would make us even more competitive.

 

Relive the highlights from our last show and stay tuned for this year’s SiGMA. Watch out for what we’re branding as the ‘iGaming Village’ this year.

Are you an operator looking for top affiliates? Are you a top affiliate looking for a nice treat with like-minded affiliates playing at the same level?

Meet Pierre Mallia, Managing Director at iMovo

We met Pierre Mallia, Managing Director at iMovo, for an interview about the company and thoughts about the industry.

Hello Pierre, how are you? Are you ready for SiGMA17?

Hi there, sure we’re all really revved up and raring to go at iMovo for what we are sure will be a very successful SiGMA17! I mean 16 was good, but we’ve got far higher expectations this year.

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

Well actually in our case it was the other way round, we started up in 2010, as a boutique firm specializing in CRM and Analytics, and quite by accident we learned that this was a pillar for gaming companies to be successful. We’ve never looked back and working with our partners Zendesk, Salesforce, Qlik, Tableau and Talend we are helping players in the industry right across the board.

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

Well as I said before, we’re 100% focused on CRM and Analytics which are the mainstay of any gaming operation. We have an Advisory and Projects team which provides advisory services such as process design and best practice in key areas such as sales, marketing and customer service. Our team is heavily certified in the solutions we provide and has experience of working with companies right across the world. We bring our customers a blend of experienced business advisors and deep technology competence.

Pierre Mallia, iMovo

How do you think technology is driving business forward? What are the little secrets that help iMovo in innovating yet again?

I’ll turn that question around a bit if I may: Where do you think the business would be without technology? Pretty rhetorical right? So yes technology is not just driving it forward, but also radically evolving and changing the way the business works. As to our “secret sauce”, well that’s a secret! But let’s just say we do 2 things well – “eat our own dogfood” and keep looking out at the distant horizon of digitalization and adopting approaches and new technologies that will take us that way. For instance, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is going to be a major disruptor in the Gaming Sector and we’re making investments to be ready for that.

What makes iMovo unique? What do you have that will make you succeed that some of the other companies maybe don’t have?

Well I guess the answer to that is pretty apparent, first off we have great people in the team! If it weren’t for the team we’d just be a run of the mill technology shop. There’s energy and verve and the fact that we’re playing in a global marketplace not just domestic really drives our collective will to compete aggressively against players who are a lot bigger than us.  The second aspect is our razor sharp focus on customer success. We’re not content to simply sell solutions to our customers, we’re totally customer centric and go more than the extra mile to ensure our customers succeed – their success is our success.

Thirdly, I guess it’s also down to our partners. When you’re working with the best in class global players, this forces you to learn from them and grow up fast.

Finally, I’d say it’s the kind of customers we have and the relationships. Yes all companies have customers – but with a very high proportion of repeat business and much coming from global blue chip customers, this really makes it worthwhile.

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

Well apart from Malta, we’ve done projects in countries like the US, UK, Italy, France, Greece, Romania, Mauritius and Dubai. So as you can see we have a diverse area of operations and the industries are also extremely varied. For instance we operate in the retail and government sector in the UK, the utilities sector in Greece and France and of course financial services and gaming here in Malta.

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

Mobile is a great opportunity. One of our key customers locally was an early adopter and has one of the most downloaded mobile apps locally as a core part of its business today. I don’t think companies have really rethought their business in terms of the part that mobile can play – we see a lot of gaming firms working in mobile and gradually also quite a few onboarding their customer service operations to mobile , which is a key space we play in. Mind you, I believe that we ought to be re-inventing our business in terms of other non-conventional channels as well such as social and here I am talking about the broader scenario beyond the Facebook, Twitter sphere.

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

I think we’ll do a rain check on this point 🙂 … otherwise we’d be pre-empting what we are planning for SiGMA17. So just one word to your readers; if you’re interested in learning how to leverage your customer data and improve your operations, come by and visit us at SiGMA17.

What sort of gaming-specific technology services do iMovo offer online gaming firms?

As mentioned before, we’re heavily into CRM technologies where we have a close relationship with Salesforce and Zendesk. I need not elaborate much about what these two do for gaming companies as we’ve been helping a variety of firms in the industry. We also provide self-service analytics and visualization services through our Tableau and Qlik practice to many of the major operators in the industry in a variety of use case scenarios.

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

We’re not a big bureaucratic company – we love to work with customers and help them increase their customer lifetime value proposition. We are pretty unique, particularly to Malta, because we’re the only firm that specializes in the fields we cover and so can bring so much value to your business.

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

Look for “white-space” in the market, don’t start a company which is providing precisely what other established firms are doing. Look at bringing something new to market. You also should really understand business. Too many bright ideas have fallen by the wayside because the focus was on technology and no thought went into how to bring that technology to the market.

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

I’m a terrible gambler, so sorry I don’t play slots! What would I do with a million – well four things:

  1. Buy a sailing yacht
  2. See kids thru college
  3. Invest some of it in iMovo
  4. Donate to a charity that works with disadvantaged kids
Relive the highlights from our last show and stay tuned for this year’s SiGMA. Watch out for what we’re branding as the ‘iGaming Village’ this year.

Are you an operator looking for top affiliates? Are you a top affiliate looking for a nice treat with like-minded affiliates playing at the same level?

Meet Christophe Sikita owner of Slots4play and Slots4play UK

We met Christophe Sikita, owner of Slots4play and Slots4play UK, for an interview about his company and thoughts about the industry.

Hello Christophe, how are you?  Are you ready for SiGMA17 ?

Hi Marius, yes, I am ready!

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

I was always interested in gambling and was advised by a friend to form the company.

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

It is a relatively small company, comprising of 2 full time developers, 1 full time writer and 1 full time social media coordinator.

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, not surprised at all.

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 have considered it, but still undecided… Well I think not. Affiliate business is taking a lot of my time so the final answer is NO 🙂

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

Reviews, Promotions, Releases, Strategies and Tips and Updates.

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

UK, Europe and USA.

How do you find UK market and competition?

UK market is indeed competitive, especially with more new casino sites being released every year. It’s not easy to stay up to date, but we’ll manage anyway 🙂

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

I’m focusing increasingly on unique content to rank organically and, to be honest, I don’t really care much about Google updates.

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

Not really… I am preparing myself for a long holiday – that’s all about it, haha!

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

Well, if they do look for a long partnership then that’s all they need to know, I am open and looking forward to meet trustworthy and long-term partners!

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

Great chance to increase player database and income, haha!

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

Having to focus on What I do now, trying not to get angry at some affiliate managers, watching my income grow.

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

The first one will be: Be Patient. It takes time to do it properly and focus on one aspect of gaming and go for it.  The second thing will be: Don’t believe all the crap you read on the Affiliate Forums.

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

Just managed to quit haha, but I don’t know… I’m a simple guy, trying not to get much attention on me, haha!

Relive the highlights from our last show and stay tuned for this year’s SiGMA. Watch out for what we’re branding as the ‘iGaming Village’ this year.

Are you an operator looking for top affiliates? Are you a top affiliate looking for a nice treat with like-minded affiliates playing at the same level?

Meet Lord Brar, VP Business Development at Adaptive

We met Lord Brar, VP Business Development at Adaptive for an interview about his company and thoughts about the industry.

Hello Lord, how are you? Are you ready for SiGMA17?

Hi Marius, I am good, thanks! And yes, I am absolutely ready for SiGMA17.

During my last trip to SiGMA16, it was raining all the time I was there. So, looking forward to (hopefully) enjoy Malta’s legendary 300 days of sunshine and the country itself.

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

I stumbled upon online gaming space completely by accident. As a performance marketing agency, we operate in a lot of verticals and are constantly being recommended offers by affiliate networks to test.

One of the affiliate managers who I really trust and respect, recommended me to try this casino offer that was performing well. Because I know he never asks me to promote average or under-performing offers, I decided to give it a try.

Since then, casino industry has been good for us and become one of our main verticals.

Lord Brar

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

We consider us a data and technology company more than an advertising company. We use a lot of proprietary technology to manage large scale media buying across many verticals and countries.

As for the structure, we work with a team who specialize in various aspects of the game. We have teams of media buyers who specialize in a specific traffic source. Other members of our team include – copywriters, graphics designers, programmers and data analytics specialists.

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, it doesn’t surprise me at all. Business cycles always work this way. I have seen it happen over and over again in different verticals. Consolidation is a sign of market maturity.

In a way, it is a good thing. Once companies grow really big, they are not able to innovate at the same pace. This gives perfect opening for a “new guy” to come up with something really innovative and market disruptive.

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 is something that we have given a serious thought to. However, there are lot more elements that go into making a casino successful and we are not sure that it is the best route for us right now.

We are currently focusing on doing what we do best – media buying and driving new customers to our partners’ brands.

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

A more appropriate description of our strategy would be unique and innovative ways to advertise. Media buying is a really competitive game and you have to be on the cutting edge of innovation to make a profit.

Over next 6 months, our primary focus will definitely be finding newer ways and channels to advertise.

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

Our current focus, in gaming industry, is UK, CA and NL.

We want to start testing Latin America as we have had a lot of success in those markets in other verticals. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to yet find partners who have successful brands that convert for us in those markets. But I see a lot of potential there…

How do you find UK market and competition?

We love the UK market. As a matter of fact, it is one of our main markets. Yes, the competition is really high there, but it has performed really well for us and our partners.

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

Right now, we are working on scaling our business.

On one hand, you can think of it as really exciting. On the other hand, it is extremely boring routine work. However, it is extremely exciting from the point of view that in future we will have capability to deliver more player for our partners and work with more partners.

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

The move to mobile has been one of the best things to happen to us. Over 80% of our traffic is mobile traffic, and the more casinos that support mobile the more partners we can work with.

Think about it – mobile is the way people use internet now. This is not going to change anytime soon. As a matter of fact, this is the way things will grow in emerging markets. We can only look at it as a positive opportunity.

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

The first and most important advice that I will give to split-test everything. Test, test and test everything – if you think you have tested everything, I am sure I can think of a few more things to test.  Try to squeeze every penny that you can from each click.

To give one example, once we tested the placement of offer in first half of the page and second half. We were getting a lot more clicks by having the link in first half, but those links were not converting. The clicks from links in second half of the page were performing WAY better. It’s not something we would have assumed if we didn’t test this hypothesis.

The secondly. treat your affiliate business like a real business. With the amount of competition now, you have no choice but to treat it like a real business.

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

No, I don’t. I am more of a poker and roulette player. I like to play people – and, I feel more energetic in presence of people rather than stare at screens. As a matter of fact, during AGS Tallinn, it took me a grand total of 2 minutes to lose all money I had for playing slots.

If I do somehow end up winning 1 million euros from jackpot, I’d go straight to roulette table and bet it all on number 13. I can only imagine the kind of rush it will give me…

Passionate about results-oriented advertising and an avid student of consumer behaviour, Lord has been acquiring, building and growing e-commerce and media companies since 1999.

Relive the highlights from our last show and stay tuned for this year’s SiGMA. Watch out for what we’re branding as the ‘iGaming Village’ this year.

Are you an operator looking for top affiliates? Are you a top affiliate looking for a nice treat with like-minded affiliates playing at the same level?

Meet Dorin Cechea from Gambling Judge

We met Dorin Cechea from Gambling Judge for an interview about his company and thoughts about the industry.

Hello Dorin, how are you? Are you ready for SiGMA17?

Hello Marius! I am good, thanks! I really look forward to this year’s SiGMA. I will be attending for the first time and I am very excited!

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

It all started a few years ago after working as an SEO freelancer. I was passionate about sports betting and gambling in general and it seemed only natural to build websites for this niche. I made a lot of websites and projects since then and I still like to write and talk about gambling. I currently work on GamblingJudge.com and other affiliate websites.

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

I started as a freelancer, doing one-man jobs, trying to learn a bit of everything, but I soon realized that strategy is not good for big and steady projects. So I started a company together with a business partner. We have now on our team developers, web designers, content writers, SEO consultants and server experts. Some are working from our office, some work remote, from other countries.

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 am not, to be honest. The industry is huge and I think it’s expected to see big mergers and acquisitions. I know the value of traffic and the truth is that big affiliate websites really deserve to be sold for millions of dollars.

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 sticking to building affiliate websites, since bringing organic traffic is our main expertise. We do however bring investors and partners in our team, since we are very eager to expand.That is not exactly white label but it’s already something similar that could develop even greater in the near future. Going the real money operator route is a different type of business and I don’t think we are ready for that yet.

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

Yes, that is a big part of our strategy. We finished developing our product, a website that is very versatile and customizable. We are now using that template to create more websites that are based on great content and later on, good marketing strategies. That is our plan not for the next 6 months, but for the next few years. I still don’t see enough people putting their main focus on building quality content and link building campaigns.

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

We are focusing on the sports betting and casino industries, which are huge in most of the countries. We are taking up on them little by little, trying to cover them as best as we can. We’ve been looking to enter the e-sports betting market, since it grows by day.

How do you find UK market and competition?

It is extremely tough for the sports betting and casino niche, talking from an SEO perspective, but there still are lots of long tail keywords and sub-niches that can be used to build traffic, even by the new webmasters. Just don’t expect to make any profit in the first year without a decent budget.

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

Well, we are all familiar to the golden ages of seo and marketing, when almost all tactics worked. We too, like many others had websites penalized a few years ago. That caused a shift in our thinking and strategy and since 3 or 4 years ago we started to focus only on white hat seo. It’s a lot slower and more expensive to build quality content and links but we are here for the long run and are not open to compromises. We are working now only with long term projects in our mind.

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

We are continuing to grow in size and quality our websites like GamblingJudge.com and some newer ones. We’re planning to build some exciting communities around them after we allocate the resources for this.

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

That we are working hard to provide accurate ratings for each operator, that we provide geo-targeted bonuses and promotions and that they can find genuine and honest articles on them.

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

All our websites were optimized for mobile, even before the mobile update from Google. So most likely it helped us. Mobile traffic is huge these days and we wanted to satisfy mobile users right from the beginning.

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

Our biggest challenge would be to climb in rankings for keywords with great competition. Fighting with well-established websites from UK is a difficult thing, but we’re building strong from the ground-up and I expect to see big results in the next year.

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

Any new affiliate should learn to do very good research before starting a new project. Know how to pick your battles: profitable keywords, good social media strategy and smart paid ads are the main component of a good ROI. You should be able to project the result of a marketing campaign before committing too much effort and budget. If you’re just guessing, chances are it’s not going to end good.

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

I don’t play too much, to be honest. I found out that writing about slots games is more profitable than playing them. I would invest the 1 million in a company or project that would bring me back several more millions back in 2 or 3 years.

Relive the highlights from our last show and stay tuned for this year’s SiGMA. Watch out for what we’re branding as the ‘iGaming Village’ this year.

Are you an operator looking for top affiliates? Are you a top affiliate looking for a nice treat with like-minded affiliates playing at the same level?

Meet Joris Dekkers, Managing Director of Delta Markets

We met Joris Dekkers, Managing Director of Delta Markets (www.gokkastenspeelautomaten.org, www.toplivecasino.nu, www.toplivecasino.co.uk), whose team is participating in SiGMA this November.

Hello Joris, how are you? Are you ready for SiGMA17?

Hi Marius, I’m very good thanks! Unfortunately, I can’t be present at SiGMA17. A shame, as I always love to come to Malta for a few days to network and party. However, my parents have been married for 40 years and to celebrate this, they are taking me and my girlfriend to South Africa in November. So instead of negotiating on flat fee’s and CPA’s I’ll be spotting wild life! No reason to feel sorry for me! Martijn, our executive manager, will however be present and perhaps more of our Delta Markets team will join.

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

I think in 2005 I already had setup my first online poker website, which was focused on educating American poker players. I also sold an e-book, which made it to the top 3 best sold online poker e-books on Clickbank (a sales channel) at that time. After the legislation prevented US players from depositing money on foreign online sites, I had to sell the website and decided to step out of the industry for 3-4 years. Then I started TopCasinoBonus.nl, after which we started more than 10 other affiliate ventures under the umbrella company Delta Markets.

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

Delta Markets BV stems from the consultancy company I erected in 2012 to facilitate the income and expenses of TopCasinoBonus.nl. Officially I chose the name in 2015, just after I had resigned at Unibet as Online Marketing Manager for Holland. Soon I hired Martijn Bluemink, who still is my right-hand and the manager of the team. 5 other people have joined the company after that, of which 2 also have had to leave us. So the current team is 5 people strong. We focus our efforts on Dutch focused casino, forex bingo and scratch card sites and have also started expanding into the UK, Germany and .com. 5 casino projects are 50% owned by Gaming Innovation Group’s branch Innovation Labs. Roulette.nl is owned by a private person; we manage the domain for him. The rest of the projects are fully owned by Delta.

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

As you all know I have experienced it myself. Back then I wanted to sell TopCasinoBonus.nl not just to settle financially, but also due to the upcoming regulation of the market which would have repercussions for affiliates. Frankly, the Dutch gambling market has still not regulated. But I do not regret the sale at all. To be honest, affiliate business can be risky and competition is rising every day. I do feel that today the prices paid for affiliate sites are sometimes too high. But for the Catena’s and Innovation Lab’s of this world it doesn’t matter too much, with the bonds they secure they can take risks.

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, but I have of course thought about it. The thing that keeps me from doing it, is that it is a life changer compared to the affiliate life. As an affiliate you can skip a day and you never have to wake up during the night. As an operator this changes, you’re in it 24/7. Also, it’s very hard to come up with an online casino that’s different. For me, all these whitelabels all look the same, except for the ‘theme’ they choose. So if at all I’d decide to step in, I’d want to create something unique throughout all the layers of business: product wise, CRM wise, VIP treatment, (affiliate)marketing etc.

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 are already moving forward by creating video content, integrating more rich-media in our pages and emphasize on easy to read text. Our content writers are very experienced and know exactly what players like. So it’s also a manner of keep doing what we do well. The world changes fast, but not over night.

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

Holland is our main market, after that come The UK, Germany and the .com world. We also have a big casino site in Belgium.

How do you find Dutch market and competition?

The Dutch market is a good market. It’s not too competitive, like Sweden or The UK. But it is becoming more saturated. A disadvantage is the regulation process which is tiring, also for the gaming authority; lately, they seem annoyed by the disruptive forces in the political arena which gives them a reason to start chasing affiliates on the basis of the old gaming law which clearly states Holland has a monopolized casino market. This makes it sometimes a bit edgy to focus on .nl traffic. But all in all it’s a great market.

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

We focus less effort on link building, and if we build links, it’s quality links. Our content writers stick to the changing rules of google, meaning shorter sentences, easier to read language and less keyword stuffing.

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

Yes, we are launching our UK and German live casino affiliate sites, toplivecasino.co.uk and later on toplivecasino.de. Furthermore we’ve launched this great slots content portal allonlinecasinoslots.com, it’s a giant beast with more than a 1000 pages.

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

Not sure, they’re great sites I guess : – ). On a more serious note, if you want to launch your online casino in Holland, we dominate three of the five most important niches (being online casino, casino bonus, roulette, live casino, slots). The latter three categories are our dominions so Delta can be your one stop shop to plug and play your casino in the Netherlands. And of course we hope to do this in the UK and Germany soon as well.

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

All of our sites have always been mobile optimized, because of the great wordpress theme’s we use.

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

We will have to create more compact content to cater the impatient needs of youngsters nowadays and in the future. Young people growing up in the current society don’t read books or watch 15 minute videos. They want everything to be fast and summarized, or they go somewhere else.

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

I’d tell them to look at my answer of question number 13. Second, I would advise them not to be afraid of the big companies: the creativity and ingenuity of a fast paced speedboat can always beat slow moving cruise ships.

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

Yes I have to admit I play slots sometimes. To be honest, I have no clue what I would do with that money, the good thing would be to invest it in more affiliate business :- )

Relive the highlights from our last show and stay tuned for this year’s SiGMA. Watch out for what we’re branding as the ‘iGaming Village’ this year.

Are you an operator looking for top affiliates? Are you a top affiliate looking for a nice treat with like-minded affiliates playing at the same level?

Meet Andrei Beu, Sales Manager at BetBrain

We met Andrei Beu, Sales Manager at BetBrain for an interview about his company and thoughts about the industry.

Hello Andrei, how are you? How did you find Tallinn Affiliate Grand Slam  2017?

Hello Marius, yet again it’s a pleasure meeting you on such a fine occasion. I really enjoyed this event! All of us made new contacts, new business opportunities and most of all new friends.

How did you come to enter the online gambling space and your company?

BetBrain was launched in May 2000 and it strives to stay up in the charts ever since. I have joined the company 3 years ago and with it the online gambling community which is definitely the place to be for myself.

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

Betbrain has been established in 2001 with its main focus on being an odds comparison website. Along the years we grew and now we are much more than an affiliate. We focus on becoming a top sports data provider through our new brand BetBrain4Business.

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 think everything that happens in the industry is following a natural path. Progress can be noticed on many levels and I’m sure we’ll see more of it by the end of the year.

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 part of EveryMatrixand we let them do that. We are focusing on what we know how to do best and that is affiliation.

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 always tried to innovate and we will continue to do so in the future as well. Right now we are planning on adding features such as bookmaker ratings and more content. We won`t stop improving our current content.

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

We are always looking at new markets. At the moment BetBrain is available in 19 languages. We don`t plan on going into more markets but rather to improve the ones that we have.

How do you find Scandinavian & UK markets and competition?

These two markets are very profitable but also very competitive. If you don`t have a large marketing budget or a very good SEO strategy I think going head to head with the large affiliates that target these markets is very hard.

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

We plan on improving our mobile experience and making our professional website Betonvalue.com mobile friendly as well. We also plan on improving our marketing strategy in the medium to long term.

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

Our biggest challenge when making a mobile friendly website was presenting all the desktop features in a friendly manner to mobile users.

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

I think the biggest challenge in 2017 and in the years to come is the regulations in each country. It is becoming harder and harder for affiliates to keep in line with all the different states have.

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

Follow your own ideas, stay on your path regardless of the obstacles, focus on your goals and don’t branch out too soon. I think the most effective affiliate business is one that concentrates on a single recess.

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

I used to. I think it got me closer to joining the industry, anyway I have never won anything close to 1 million Euros but if I did I would definitely travel the world and open a fine restaurant where I could cook with a great chef.

 

Relive the highlights from our last show and stay tuned for this year’s SiGMA. Watch out for what we’re branding as the ‘iGaming Village’ this year.

Are you an operator looking for top affiliates? Are you a top affiliate looking for a nice treat with like-minded affiliates playing at the same level?

Meet Adrian Sawicki, founder of FreeSpinsGratis.com

We met Adrian Sawicki, founder of FreeSpinsGratis.com for an interview about his business and thoughts about the industry.

Hello Adrian, how are you? Are you ready for SiGMA17?

Hi Marius, very well, thanks. Oh yes, I’m really looking forward to attend the conference, especially after what I have experienced in Tallinn during Affiliate Grand Slam 2017. For me as an affiliate, it’s a great opportunity to meeting new people from the industry and chance for some good deals.

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

Back in 2012, when I was a casual casino player. One day when I was browsing gaming websites with bonuses I came up with an idea to try to do the same business. The first steps were not easy because I didn’t have any background in this field, but eventually I managed to open my first website – FreeSpinsGratis.com.

Then, I met some nice people from the industry and we put our strengths together and opened other portals, namely: Freispiele.org, FreeSpins1.com, FreeSpinsBet.com, FreeSpinsInfo.com, FreeSpinsBonus.net, FreeSpinSgames.com, FreeSpinsNetent.com, MicrogamingSpins.com, FreeSpinMicrogaming.com, FreeSpinsMobileCasino.com, FreeSpinsNetentCasino.com, FreeSpinsMicrogamingCasino.com.

Adrian Sawicki

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

Currently, we are based in UK and Poland. Me and my friends do our business as freelancers. Each member of our team is strictly assigned to certain tasks such as IT, SEO and copywriting. It is very likely that we will set up a company, who knows, maybe in Malta 😊

As for our traffic, we are aimed at organic SEO. Because we like our readers and vice versa, we also do some social media buzz. In addition, we are still testing new marketing channels that we could use in the future.

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, not at all. I was rather expecting this to happen. As is well-known in the situation of fierce competition on the market:“Big can more”.

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, we haven’t tried this so far. We are focused on our current business for the time being, however “white labels” sound very tempting. We never say never.

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

Yes, definitely, fresh and quality content is the core for SEO. In this regard, nothing changes in our concept, as we are going to continue what are doing now. This means that our focus will be on reviewing new casinos in terms of bonuses and promotions for players.

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

In fact, we are focused on all English speaking users rather than on one particular country or region. But, if we had to point our target group (high profile players) it would be the UK and Scandinavia.

When it comes to emerging markets for the e-gaming, we pin our hopes on Japan, Brazil and some other countries from South America.

How do you find UK market and competition?

For us, affiliates who have all websites in English, the UK market is very important. Not only because of the language, British society love online casinos, bingo rooms and sports betting.

Of course, the UK market is very saturated, but we think it is worth competing for a slice of this cake.

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

With every Google’s algorithm update we learn new things and SEO techniques for optimal performance. In recent months, we’ve seen so much progress for our websites. All kudos to our 100% unique and user-friendly content. Even our websites get higher rank, we never fall into the lap of hysterical optimism since we know that it is very hard to keep the position in the long run. The panacea for it all seems to be common sense, hard work and patience.

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

Yes, we have a lot of new ideas, but less resources to make it all happen. One of our priorities is to launch a dedicated website for bitcoin casinos alone. With this in mind, we would like to gain some fresh traffic from the niche. Keep your fingers crossed, haha😊.

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

They all are reliable source of gaming news with loads of free spins, no deposit bonuses and other exclusive promotions. They are waiting for you guys, both business owners and players!

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

Since we have been living in “mobile” era for some time, all our websites have been designed to be mobile friendly. With this feature, we can enjoy higher Google rank, hence get more players who are “on the go”.

In fact, majority of the online casinos and affiliate portals are already in this standard. No surprise since there are officially more mobile devices than people in the world.

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

I think that my biggest challenge will be facing big competition, further Google’s algorithm updates, possible hacking attacks and negative SEO activity from poor websites. Being aware of these threats, we will be well prepared for the same.

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

If you want to be a part of this business, first you need to understand the market and its rules. Then, when you start creating content, you should put more focus on quality, not quantity. And, don’t forget to be positive and patient to achieve your goals.

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

I play slots very often to be honest. Actually this is due to the nature of my work, since I have to test new casino games to prepare reviews.

If I won 1 million euro I would buy a house and/or reinforce my current business.

Adrian Sawicki have been working as an affiliate since 2012. He is the webmaster and owner of 14 gaming portals, including Free Spins Gratis, Free Spins Bet, and Free Spins Games.

Adrian has a master degree in Marketing and Management from the Rzeszow University of Technology, Poland.

Apart from e-gaming business, passionate football fan.

Relive the highlights from our last show and stay tuned for this year’s SiGMA. Watch out for what we’re branding as the ‘iGaming Village’ this year.

Are you an operator looking for top affiliates? Are you a top affiliate looking for a nice treat with like-minded affiliates playing at the same level?