“I always try to think in the same way as the players think, trying to predict what they would want to learn, search for, find exciting and, most importantly, useful and entertaining.” We talked with Lena Sciberras, Content and SEO Manager at Casino Hawks, about the challenges of running and affiliate website and the fierce competition in the industry.
Hello Lena, hope you are well in this hot summer weather?
Hi Marius, I’m great, the summer is finally here in Malta, and I’m ready to enjoy it in full.
How did you come to enter the online gaming space and your current workplace?
I have a background in journalism, copywriting, marketing and website management for different industries so it was only natural that after a few years of living in Malta I joined iGaming industry. There are so many opportunities to learn, grow and meet the most interesting and passionate people. And it’s fun! I started at Game Lounge Ltd. in the beginning of 2016, and it’s been the best time of my life ever since. We honestly have the most helpful, professional and friendly team.
Can you tell us a little about how your company business is structured? Which markets do you focus on and do you see any potential in the emerging markets?
Game Lounge is a very strong affiliate company with a lot of experience and 10 different markets. Our best-known brands are so far the Scandinavian affiliate websites. But in the last few years, we’ve been expanding and adding more markets, languages, countries. One of them is the UK market, and the website that I manage for this market is called casinohawks.com. My project is one of the newer ones, but the best thing is that I can use all the knowledge and experience that the company has gained from operating in all the other markets.
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 wouldn’t call it surprising, as bigger companies at a certain point will always try to acquire smaller successful brands. That’s exactly what happened to Game Lounge, which sold 51% of shares to Cherry Group in 2015. Being part of a bigger player helps a lot, but we also have quite a bit of independence and our own unique culture and business strategy.
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, Game Lounge has a couple of white label casinos, but they’re not part of the market that I handle personally, so maybe one day some of my colleagues can tell you more about it.
Developing unique content is a key pillar of your strategy. What will be your primary focus on this front over the next 6 months?
For me, it’s always trying to think in the same way as a player thinks, trying to predict what they would want to learn, search for, find exciting and, most importantly, useful and entertaining. So apart from the typical reviews, news and promotions, I like to concentrate on some useful guides, how-to’s and even shorter articles that just answer one specific player’s questions.
How do you find UK market and competition?
I won’t exaggerate if I say that it is probably the toughest, hardest markets to compete, at least from the ones that Game Lounge operates in right now. But the extreme level of competition also indicates that the market is not only massive in size already, but also still has a lot of potential for growth in the future. So while admitting the fierce challenges, I certainly see the bright future.
How have Google’s algorithm updates affected the way you go about traffic generation, SEO and content at your company?
Of course, we are constantly adjusting our ways and strategies, not only after the Google’s updates but as the market changes and grows in general. Being on top of your game is crucial, and that’s what defines a good affiliate.
Are there any exciting plans in the works that you can tell us about? What is the main thing that you’d like SiGMA readers to know about your site?
Recently we’ve added an in-house video production department, so we are creating and publishing unique video content on our websites and social media. And it’s not just the game reviews, but more exclusive, behind the scenes videos that can show our readers and players how the iGaming industry works from within. So far we’ve had great feedback, and people are liking it a lot. So concentrating a bit more on the videos will be one of the key points in the next few months.
What challenges and opportunities has the move to mobile presented you with?
All our affiliate websites are fully compatible and responsive and work perfectly well on mobile, but let’s face it, this is more of a technical side of our business. And I can only say that I am grateful to our awesome IT team who is always on it, making the life of more creative people much easier.
What two pieces of advice would you give to any new affiliate starting today?
Firstly, think if you have enough patience and budget to deal with the competition. Secondly, try to be unique, even though it’s getting more and more impossible. If you don’t think you can handle these two key components, maybe there is not that much point in entering this market right now.
Do you play slots and what would you do with 1 million Euro from jackpot winnings?
I play online slots as part of my job, but recently I had a pure pleasure of trying the best land-based slot machines in the best casinos of Las Vegas. The whole Game Lounge team went there for a team-building trip, and it was the best adventure.
If I hit the jackpot… I wouldn’t do anything crazy, that’s for sure. Maybe I’d buy my own small place and have a good month-long trip. Then I would go back to my normal life and invest the rest of the money.
Are you ready for Affiliate Grand Slam Bucharest and SiGMA17?
SiGMA is always one of the biggest events of the year, and we are preparing for that. But going to Romania and seeing Bucharest, meeting people in perhaps a bit less formal environment is truly exciting. I can’t wait!
|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?|