Meet Lena Sciberras, Content and SEO Manager at Casino Hawks

“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?

Meet Maria Petkovic, Project Manager at Casinocountdown.com

“In the business world, Profit is Prince and Cash is King, and nobody can deny it. We follow the principle Content is King, Content is Prince, as long as it’s kept fresh and accurate.” We met Maria Petkovic, Project Manager at Casinocountdown.com, for an interview about the importance of good content and her experience in the industry.

Hello Maria, hope you are keeping well this festive season?
Hi Marius Yes, I am, thanks for asking.

Can you tell us a little about how your company business is structured?
Casino Countdown, or Casino Bonuses Countdown, is a one stop destination for any online casino player, regardless of what the player is looking for. We try to deliver the latest news and updates, accurately and in a timely fashion. After all, the information provided is only as good as its accuracy and the time when it’s provided. We think these two are the biggest issues casino players have to deal with. Of course, this calls for long hours and extra effort.

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 big fish eats the little one. The online gaming industry is like any other. It’s a dynamic market, and as such, events like these are inevitable. As long as there’s a win-win outcome, there’s nothing bad about them. Both affiliates and operators are always on the lookout for what’s going to be the next big thing. Brexit certainly is going to have a notable impact.

Developing unique content is a key pillar of your strategy. What will be your primary focus on this front over the next 6 months?Let’s put it this way. In the business world, Profit is Prince and Cash is King, and nobody can deny it. We follow the principle Content is King, Content is Prince, as long as it’s kept fresh and accurate. Over the past 2 years, we’ve carefully listened to what our visitors have to say. We try to keep things simple, yet we want to be thorough. It’s a never ending battle to be honest. Moreover, we don’t like to fix things if they’re not broken. However, changes are inevitable. We do not think we’re going to make any drastic changes, but they’re inevitable, and if we feel our visitors will benefit from them, we’re up for anything!

Which markets do you focus on and do you see any potential in the emerging markets?
We can’t exactly put a finger on what a few markets. Players from Australia, Canada and New Zealand are pretty important. The Scandinavian trio, Sweden,  Norway and Finland are also of great importance, but it takes time, resources and a lot of effort to penetrate these markets. Our sister site, Spielhallen is dedicated to casino players from Germany, Austria and Switzerland, which we have to admit are huge markets!

How do you find UK market and competition?
Ever growing. Both of them, to be honest. It’s a big, profitable market and everybody is trying to get a share of the pie. Fortunately, the number of casino players grows as well. Affiliates who are going to pick the right niche can expect returns sooner, but they too need to put in extra hours of work. Penetrating the UK markets is a marathon. New affiliate should simply finish the first race, the first year. Otherwise, you burn out and you quit.

How have Google’s algorithm updates affected the way you go about traffic generation, SEO and content at your company?
Considering our strategy and what we provide, we had to make minor adjustments. Many of our competitors have had detrimental issues. Nonetheless, Google has definitely rewarded webmasters who have paid greater attention to the content. Design is also important, but for the player. Trying to catch the attention of a crawler with the intelligence of a 5 year old child that sees nothing but content can be a double edged sword. For what it’s worth, players are now taken to webpages with fresh and thorough information. This is probably the best time to become an affiliate.

Are there any exciting plans in the works that you can tell us about?
I can’t tell you anything in detail, but, the answer is yes. We’re going to work more on delivering a custom experience to any of our visitors. A few other upgrades are also scheduled, and I’ll be happy to discuss about them with you once they’re live. Maybe next year, before SiGMA18!

What is the main thing that you’d like SiGMA readers to know about your sites?
If you want to find out more about any online casino, learn about them, inside out, there’s no better place than Casino Countdown. The content, the information we provide, spiced up with the minimal, user-friendly design will get you coming back for more. It’s as simple as that. This might sound arrogant, but it’s what we’ve been told.

What challenges and opportunities has the move to mobile presented you with?
Mobile visitors are a totally different target group. A desktop visitor will come and look around, literally explore. Individuals that browse the net with a smartphone is onto something. If you don’t provide them with what they’re looking for in the first few seconds, you’re going to lose them. Design is the biggest problem. There’s just so much information that needs to be displayed on such a small screen. Furthermore, not every visitor is in a comfortable state. There are people who look for a new game, new online casino while they’re on the bus, or they’re drinking their coffee. These are the people who know what they’re looking for, and we have to give it to them in a matter of seconds.

What do you see as the biggest challenges ahead for your business and the wider affiliate sector in 2017?
Growing restrictions. In the past few years, key operators have moved away from big markets. Whenever this happens, affiliates lose significant share of their player base. This is why it’s important to diversify your porfolio. If you focus on one or two markets only, sure, you’ll be successful. But if something radical happens in the legislation of the said markets, the affiliate has to start from scratch, well almost.

What two pieces of advice would you give to any new affiliate starting today?
Know where you’re headed. There are affiliates who start without any strategy. After a few months, they’re basically lost. It sounds simple, but it’s better to get things right the first time, than to go back through your entire webpage to fix something. The second advice, it’s an uphill ride. Do not expect any returns in the first year. Otherwise, you just might be disappointed. Conversions in this period should be reinvested immediately.

Do you play slots and what would you do with 1 million Euro from jackpot winnings?
As a matter of fact, yes! To be honest, i’m not fond of the latest additions. I tend to be nostalgic for the “aged” slots, like Immortal Romance and Starburst. Not that I have anything against any new slots. No two players alike.
€1,000,000 is a lot! I’ll probably get myself more free spins, play my favorite games, while i’m sitting on the balcony of my recently bought new house, looking at my brand new car, while I’m planning what country to visit next. I’m modest.

Are you ready for Affiliate Grand Slam Bucharest and SiGMA17?
Yes I’m very excited to attend both events. Affiliate Grand Slam Tallinn and SiGMA16 were amazing! We have already started with the preparations for this year’s Affiliate Grand Slam and SiGMA17 events. I am positive Affiliate Grand Slam and SiGMA17 will set the bar even higher, considering it’s moving to a different, more spacious location.

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 Håkan Klingén, Owner of Nicerodds.co.uk

“Focus on what you do best and take help with the other things. And always think long term.” We met Håkan Klingén, the owner of nicerodds.co.uk to talk about his extensive experience in sportsbook business.

Hello Hakan, hope you are well in this festive season?

Hi Marius! Yes, I work with my biggest hobby – the life can’t be better.

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

In 1987 I was 18 years and opened betting accounts in London. I placed my bets by email, fax or phone. I got coupons from three bookmakers every week, so the odds comparison work was very manually. After 16 years I started to doing my living from my betting and also started my odds comparison site.

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

I had worked on a temporary service company since 1988 so for me outsourcing is something very natural. I don’t have any employees but many consultants and freelancers.

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’s the same in all new businesses.

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 have the money to compete with the biggest bookmakers, so I continue to focus on what I do best.

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 already have odds comparisons on like everything, but will have even more pages about next manager in different football clubs.

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

Well, my English site has visitors from the whole world and many people in the emerging markets speak English – that’s the boring answer you got from me… But of course gambling on internet has just started…

How do you find Scandic market and competition?

Well, I live in Sweden and since 4 years I am biggest in Sweden on odds comparisons, but to be honest it is not so many competitors.

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

Nothing. We focus on good content.

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

Next step will be odds comparisons on the transfer windows.

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

That you can compare odds on the matches everywhere, so we focus on special bets, outrights and novelty bets.

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

I am 48 years old, so for me a computer is something you have on a desk… But I have help with developing the mobile sites.

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

I understand what you mean. But my answer is preparing for the winter Olympics and football World Cup 2018.

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

Focus on what you do best and take help with the other things.

And always think long term – it took me some years to get trust from Google but after 14 years…

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

Sorry. My focus is on odds.

Are you ready for Affiliate Grand Slam Bucharest and SiGMA17?

Yes, I had been on many conferences but not this two, so I am very excited.

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 Bertan Baytekin, CEO at Baytekin Media

“Focus on your product and deliver the best quality. Forget about money – if you are in it to make a living, you need to be the best in what you do first.” We met Bertan Baytekin, CEO at Baytekin Media for an interview about ProTipster and the company’s approach to different markets.

Hello Bertan, how are you?

Hi Marius, all good. Business is thriving and I’m happy to lead one of the most magnificent teams in the market.

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

I was one of the founding managers of Runningball Sports Information GmbH. Since we changed the online betting landscape with our product, I had business relationship with top representatives of European and Asian online gaming companies. After that I worked at Global Sports Media and Perform Group to polish my B2B skills and learn the affiliate industry. I was ready to setup my own venture in 2011 and I started developing different projects with my partners.

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

I have an excellent team in Katowice that helps me build technical platforms and market them. We are getting better and better at cost-effective user acquisition and conversion. My partners are in Istanbul, Stockholm, Lisbon, Tblisi and Zurich so I’m involved in several projects but the team in Katowice is baking the bread at the end of the day.

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 I’m not. I always thought the value stays with the brand that has the loyalty of players. Lots of gaming and payment platforms emerged during the past 10 years thanks to the computing technology that lowered transaction costs. Add on top the local regulations on online gambling and the increasing turn-key capabilities, it’s only natural that the players sides with the affiliate sites that understand their value, which means proposing them some sort of value apart from just offering them content to consume. In a world that’s full of online gambling operators with nearly the same content, the value is with those who have the loyalty of the players and those are smart affiliates that offer players a product experience.

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 haven’t practically done it but I consulted several white labels. I prefer to take full responsibility in only what I enjoy and what I’m good at.

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 focus a lot on video content. It’s not only because it’s more engaging, it’s also because it goes hand-in-hand with offering a product – video is harder to produce but it’s way more rewarding thanks to the branding spillover effect.

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

We approach markets per language so our primary targets are markets where people speak English, Turkish, Polish, Romanian, Czech, Slovakian, Croatian, Spanish, Portuguese, Brazilian, Latin American Spanish and Russian languages. We also aim to launch our German and Italian versions before the new year.

When it comes to emerging markets, Latam is definitely interesting. On top of this, there are a few newly regulated markets like Poland that are full of opportunities for those who understand how to do their business properly.

How do you find Turkish market and competition?

It’s a unique market. It looks tasty and easy from outside but the competition is fierce and corners are mostly taken. It’s impossible to do business within Turkish-speaking countries without having a reliable Turkish partner because business is an integral part of culture in those lands. Therefore, I strongly recommend joining forces with the right people before entering an adventure in that market.

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

We are only affected by it positively because we are producing unique and good quality content in multiple languages. We don’t do translations of our English content and we go the extra mile. I believe companies with this kind of long-term mentality always get rewarded in the end.

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

We are focusing on Protipster at the moment and our aim is to make it the largest social tipping community until the 2018 World Cup begins. We are also developing Appjobs and it’s one of the strongest projects we’ve ever been involved in. On top of this, we will keep our position in the current markets with our existing brands. All in all, next 10 months will be busy and exciting for us.

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

We focus on user satisfaction. It’s not about making money fast, it’s about creating brand value on long-term. I always believed financial success finds those who prioritize their principles over short-term cash and our principle is creating quality and happy users.

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

We’ve foreseen this a while ago and adopted a responsive strategy in our brands. I think the main challenge is to think mobile-first because my generation is quite used to desktop view. Since we are the ones with capital now, it’s sometimes hard to adopt this strategy but it works. The main opportunity is creating totally different revenue streams by diversifying the core product in a mobile app – I believe apps should represent the brand value but should offer a different product experience and value to the end user.

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

I think the main challenge is overregulation. Online gambling is an entertainment industry and it provides jobs to hundreds of thousands. Governments must understand that the entertainment is simply killed when players are up against impossible odds to make returns. When operators aren’t happy, they will reflect it to affiliates sooner or later.

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

Focus on your product and deliver the best quality. Forget about money – if you are in it to make a living, you need to be the best in what you do first. What’s the point of all that cash if you aren’t doing what you are good at and what you love doing?

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

I never spent a single cent on slots but I do play them in fun mode. If I won a million, I would invest it in my team by giving them much better working conditions so I would invest it in my business.

Are you ready for Affiliate Grand Slam Bucharest and SiGMA17?

I’m always ready to meet new people and understand their perspectives. I am where I am thanks to what I learnt from the experiences people shared with me during these conferences for the past 13 years and I cannot afford to skip any.

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 Henrik Olsson, co-owner of NorskCasinoguide.com

“A lot of new brands pop up all the time and you have to choose carefully which one of them you want to work closer with.” We met  Henrik Olsson, co-owner of Norsk Casino Guide for an interview about his affiliate activity and his company’s strategy.

Hello Henrik, how are you?

Hi Marius, I’m very good, thanks.

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

We are a team that is working with several sites. In areas like travel, retail, investing, forex and of course casino, bingo and poker. I haven’t worked so much in the casino area until recently, but I enjoy it a lot.

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, I am 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?

We have considered it, but affiliate business is our thing and I’m pretty sure we will not go that way.

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

Write long articles about relevant themes will be important and to continue to make honest reviews.

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

We are focusing on unique content to rank organically and we even have been hit of some of the updates we believe unique and honest content is the way to go.

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

To be honest we have mainly focused on the content and not so much on the technology. That have made us back on mobile, but we are getting there and the sites are getting better day by day in this areas as well.

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

The industry is developing fast. The competition gets harder every day, and new regulations come up that you have to follow closely. A lot of new brands pop up all the time and you have to choose carefully which one of them you want to work closer with. And of course you have to follow what Google wants and be a close friend.

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

Be patient and don’t give up. Work hard and find your niche.

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

I enjoy playing slots from time to time. If I won a million Euro I would invest them. I enjoy investing in the stock markets and we also find it exciting to invest in start-up companies.

Are you ready for Affiliate Grand Slam Bucharest and SiGMA17?

I hope to attend Affiliate Grand Slam and  SiGMA Conference this year, I have heard a lot of great things about it.

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 Marcos Oliveira, Business Manager at Clever Media

“Affiliate platforms still don’t have good tracking systems for mobile. 2017 is a good year to update them.” We met Marcos Oliveira, Business Manager at Clever Media, for an interview about the company and challenges for mobile traffic.

Hello Marcos, how are you?

Hello Marius, I’m very well thank you!

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

The company started very early in the gaming industry, but it was in 2010 when Clever Advertising was created starting with PPC investments and then switching to a media buying company.

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

We are growing everyday, but at the moment we have about 150 employees spread on all our projects from Media buying, Social Media managing to SEO Content Websites

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 at all, regulation created a number of small / medium size affiliates to become very aggressive on specific markets where the big boys of the affiliate industry have more difficulty to enter, so it makes sense for them to be acquired!

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 think of this every time that we review our monthly numbers! Why are we giving traffic to multiple operators and only get a piece of the game when we could be doing that by ourselves and take it all, well we strongly believe that we are very good on what we do and we have great relations with operators, each one should do what they do the best!

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 will continue to focus on our core business and continue to create new websites and new content in different market focus.

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

We are a worldwide marketing operation, but we do focus heavily on licensed markets, as an affiliate emerging markets represent a great opportunity for us to keep growing and developing new partnerships.

How do you find UK market and competition?

UK is a key market that keeps growing and growing, you see. Every year new operators and new affiliates coming to this market. Our data shows that UK is still an amazing market and there is still room for everyone that has a good strategy and product.

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

We take Google very seriously and try to always keep updated as the algorithm grows and develops, our main focus its creating amazing content and deliver the best content to our readers.

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

The industry its always at super speed, we are working in multiple projects and markets and we will let everyone know as we launch them.

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

Clever Advertsing is a power house on lead generation, its our goal to deliver the best traffic to our operators partners.

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

It’s on mobile where the gaming industry its still behind to affiliates. Affiliate platforms still don’t have good tracking systems for mobile. 2017 is a good year to update them.

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

Regulation is still an unknown process. We are waiting for Poland and Czech Republic to have more operators in the game, and we never know what is the next market to close for regulation, and mobile tracking is challenging.

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

Focus on the market that you know well and keep your product always on the next level of innovation and interaction with the traffic that you drive.

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

Now a lot less than I used to play, but with a jackpot I would buy whatever my lady would want and the rest save it.

Are you ready for SiGMA17?

Here in Clever we are very excited with this year’s SiGMA since last year we had an amazing time there!

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 Daniel Stensio, owner of Casinofeber.se

“We see many competitors who – when reaching the top in the SERP – stop innovating and developing their sites. We believe that it is a crucial mistake and one that probably will cost them dearly in the long run.” We met Daniel Stensio, owner at Casino Feber to talk about the developing his affiliate website and the increasing competition on the market.

Hello Daniel, how are you?

Hi Marius! I’m great, thanks. Just celebrated my Birthday.

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

I’ve been in the affiliate business for about 10 years and gambling was a natural step for me after a couple of other verticals. The competition – and of course the potential earnings – are intriguing.

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

At the moment we are a two man team running our company, me and my colleague Lukas. We both have different skill sets and complement each other very well. We run the business like a normal start up. We barely sleep and love our job so much that we forget to eat.

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 surprised, but a bit impressed that everything is moving so fast. There are no signs of the speed of change declining either. We are also going towards a license system in Sweden within a couple of years. That will require a lot of adjustments, and I think it will fuel more changes.

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

Not yet, but in the long term that is one of our goals. We are open for suggestions.

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 written content with our primary focus on the end user – the reader – and will continue to do so. The competition only pushes us to do better, and that is one of the things that we love with the gaming affiliate industry. We are planning some really cool stuff where content is blended with unique functions to increase usability and engagement.

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

Currently we are focusing on the Scandinavian market and have our goal sets for the usual suspects of countries. However, when the time is right there is a thought about entering markets that the competition is easier, but of course I won’t tell you which ones yet.

How do you find Scandic market and competition?

The competition in the Scandinavian market is insane. Almost every competitor in the SERP top 10 has been acquired with a strong team and big bags of money in their backpacks. However the competition is what strives us to do even better and work harder. Of course we don’t have the budget of the giants, but we are hungrier!

“If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.” – Napoleon  Hill

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

Well. Google has – for sure – updated their algorithms. But they haven’t changed their stance or view on how important the end user experience is. Their algorithm is only getting better at making decisions that are more and more like how humans would decide on a web page.  With that in mind, and some other factors of course, we have only gained from the algorithm changes. We will continue to develop sites for the end user and not for Google.  This way require a lot of patience, which of course isn’t always that fun when living the life of an entrepreneur.

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

We are shortly launching our primary site CasinoFeber in Norway.

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

If you are a competitor: We hope you have a good rear view mirror, because we are right behind you, accelerating. Anyone else: CasinoFeber.se has the best casino bonuses available, and our reviews are great!

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

Mostly challenges with optimizing the design and call to actions for a smaller screen as we got a lot of content, which not always are what you are looking for when you are on the go.

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

The competition won’t stop increasing. Therefore it is imperative to never relax nor be satisfied with keyword positions, content or any other parameter. We see many competitors who – when reaching the top in the SERP – stop innovating and developing their sites. We believe that is a crucial mistake and one that probably will cost them dearly in the long run.

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

Never stop believing in that it will work in the long run and be patient. As soon as the doubt sets in, so does your decline of moral. Don’t think too much. Just do it, review and redo it.

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

I mostly play for fun money when a new slot is released to be up to date. With a big jackpot win I would probably host an epic party and buy casino stocks.

Are you ready for Affiliate Grand Slam Bucharest and SiGMA?

Hell yeah!

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 Atte Sarantila, CEO at Podium North

“A lot of new online operators are coming in and some of them won’t make it. Affiliates must be more careful in choosing the right partners.” We met Atte Sarantila, CEO at Podium North, to talk about his affiliate activity and how he sees the future of the industry.

Hello Atte, how are you?

Hey Marius, excellent. Summer has just arrived in Tallinn.

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

All started, when I found sportsbetting as a high schooler. Online gambling was then taking first steps and profitable sportsbetting was easy even for beginners.

Many years later in 2012 I started to work full time in the gaming industry. I founded affiliate business 2015 with my good friend Tommi Lindeman

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

At the moment our company has over 50 employees. Our business is divided between media, sportsbetting affiliate and casino affiliate business.

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

It’s not surprising at all, but expected.

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 haven’t yet taken that path. It’s possible in the future, but if we do this it’ll be totally divided from our core business.

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’re already huge in Finnish sports media. Primary focus is the grow in entertainment in Finland and find grow globally market by market.

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

Finland and a couple of other lucrative markets. We’ll expand to other markets in near future.

How do you find Finish market and competition?

In media side we don’t really have big competitors. Affiliate competition is good. Couldn’t find better guys to compete with.

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

Our main objective is to produce relevant, valid and interesting content to our readers. We like it and Google likes it. Updates have only strengthened our position.

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

Many exciting projects are starting, but unfortunately we can’t reveal them.

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

We’ve become one of the biggest players in Finnish markets in one and a half years. We build our sites and business on an honest and open approach. Sometimes we fail, mostly we overperform, but we’re always honest to a performance.

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

We have put a remarkably big focus not only in the quality of our content but also into visuality and aesthetics. As the mobile usage has been constantly increasing, we aim to put the main focus on user experience on mobile.

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

Growing in a focused way will be our biggest challenge in 2017. We want to grow and develop strongly and steadily, which means that it requires a lot of experimentations.

A lot of new online operators are coming in and some of them won’t make it. Affiliates must be more careful in choosing the right partners.

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

Stay hungry. Stay focused.

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

Yes, I do. I’d probably buy some apartments in Tallinn for Airbnb business.

Are you ready for SiGMA17 Affiliate Conference?

Of course!

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 NovaCorp Net team

“As a new affiliate, do not expect to make a living from this in the first year – start it as a hobby if you like and dedicate time. Perseverance in this industry, as in many other parts of life, will show results a bit later.” We met NovaCorp Net team to talk about their strategy and challenges within the industry.

Hello, how are you?

Hi Marius, we’re good, thank you, glad to talk to you!

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

There is not much of a structure per se here, as everyone does almost the same things. This way we handle from new development ideas up to content to SEO. This way we avoid doing the same thing every day and have much boredom among us. There are also many services outsourced, so this is another task that we manage.

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

It is the circle of life that when you grow, you do get to buy other projects that are already established – you do not want to waste time anymore on developing something on your own and grow it. So from this point of view, we are not surprised by these consolidations. However at the same time, these acquisitions are also risky, as any of the acquired projects carry the risk of not returning the value, with the possibility of getting penalized in search engines or simply not keeping up with the market trend.

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 done this yet, but it is something we consider for some time now. However, with all the local regulations in the European market, setting up an operator and working in limited markets made it even less profitable than previous years – and this trend will continue.

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 and valuable content is important of course. However, SEO is also something of huge value, as regardless of how good of a product you offer, if you do not get it in front of the right audience, you will simply not get the most of it.

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

We’re focused mainly on European markets, and now especially on regulated ones. In terms of emerging markets, we have carried pout tests on other regions as we have traffic from all over the world, but for example we find little value in Africa and Asian markets at this moment, so we’re focusing our efforts on this.

How do you find International market and competition?

Every market has its own particularities: you need to know what brands to promote and what strategies to use to better convert in each country. When you deal locally, you can still find value, but this comes with costs and language barriers. Trying to operate in English language to access a wider International audience is however more difficult, as the competition in this area is higher.

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

It is an important task for us to keep generating valuable content and offering freebies that otherwise you would have to pay for to access them somewhere else, and this in return generates traffic and links to our services.

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

We are always tweaking our services, trying to improve them all the time. So there is always something new happening, some new projects in works, but we can’t talk about them until they’re completely launched.

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

The main challenge in mobile for affiliates is conversions. While most operators offer a mobile optimized website or mobile apps for their services, conversions on these services through an affiliate is limited compared with PC traffic. A way to improve this would be to offer affiliate tracking to mobile apps downloads, as there is a better chance to convert when the app is installed on a user’s phone – but many operators do not offer this sort of tracking at the moment.

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

Over-regulated markets in Europe is the main challenge – this affects many operators as well from offering their services in certain countries, and therefore limits your options as well in offering marketing services to them. In the past few years we have seen many countries introducing local regulations, and with that many operators pulling out these markets; This trend will most likely continue, and the lack of a common approach at the European level will only make it more difficult with time to work in this industry.

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

As a new affiliate, do not expect to make a living from this in the first year – start it as a hobby if you like and dedicate time. Perseverance in this industry, as in many other parts of life, will show results a bit later.

Are you ready for Affiliate Grand Slam Bucharest and SiGMA17 Affiliate Conference?

We’re always ready for meeting with the industry fellows, and SiGMA does a great job at organizing these sort of events.

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 Henri Kukkonen, Head of Content at Game Lounge Ltd

“The industry deals largely with technology, but your contacts and relationships are always going to be your biggest assets.” We met Henri Kukkonen, the Head of Content at Game Lounge Ltd, for an interview about Suomi Casino and Game Lounge’s way of doing business.

Hello Henri, how are you? How’s the summer looking like for you?

Hi Marius, I’m great. I’m lucky as my summer is bookended this year with the Affiliate Grand Slams in Tallinn in April and in Bucharest in September. Also, the whole Game Lounge team just got back from Vegas where we soaked in some of that Big World Casino Atmosphere!

How did you come to enter the online gaming space?

My background is in Journalism and I’m a big sports fan so it felt natural for me to enter online gaming through Sportsbook. I started with a big British operator, but quickly moved to a Scandinavian company where the company culture and the challenges were more suitable for me.

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

Game Lounge has an office in Malta and soon we’ll be opening another one in Poland. We have strong casino sites in around 10 markets and we are looking to open more market areas all the time. We also co-own a couple of white label brands. The online gaming space evolves all the time and Game Lounge wants to be at the forefront of that development.

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 was very much expected. Other industries have gone through similar cycles of rapid growth and the following consolidation. Game Lounge was, of course, in on the action early on – we acquired nettikasinovertailu.info and Cherry bought a 51% stake in Game Lounge back in 2015. Both deals made our operations stronger and helped us grow significantly.

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, we have. We got stakes in a couple of white labels in the Cherry deal. Adding the white labels into our portfolio was a great eye opener to us and helped us to be better affiliates too.

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’re strengthening our content strategies across the board – every player has unique needs and we’re working really hard to answer those. Our content writers are 100% casino professionals, but it’s almost as important for them to know the culture and people of their market area. We’re also really excited about a video project that we’re working on with some key partners.

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

At the moment we are live in Sweden, Finland, Norway, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Japan and Netherlands. We’re more than excited about a couple of new markets that we can tell you about very soon.

How do you find the Nordic markets and the competition?

The Nordic casino markets are booming, but the years of exponential growth are starting to be behind us. The competition is fierce and upcoming changes in legislation make the risks greater. But the player value is there, you just need to be able to unlock it. And we at Game Lounge know how to do that.

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

I would guess that most SiGMA readers already know at least our Swedish site Sveacasino.se. It represents our sites beautifully – strong organic rankings on some of the biggest keywords, robust but flexible database to keep our data in order combined with beautiful graphics and an in-house content writing team that writes a novel’s worth of text every day. If you have good campaigns for us, we have the tools to push them globally.

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

It obviously creates a lot of extra work as designers and programmers have to tailor our products for different devices. We follow our users behaviour all the time and basically never take our products off the assembly line.

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

The industry deals largely with technology, but your contacts and relationships are always going to be your biggest assets. So the first advice is: Respect others by keeping your promises.

The second advice is specialisation – you need to find your niche. What can you do better than the competitors? Do you know your market better than others or do you have new, superior technology at your disposal? Should you do casino, sportsbook, bingo, lotto or all of them? You need to find an edge against the big, established players and that happens if you can do things better than them. The latest example of this is streaming, where new fresh companies are showing the older ones the way.

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

I have played a ton of slots at work in the last three to four years. Vikings are the new vampires in TV and the same trend is clearly visible in the casino lobbies.

I would probably invest a big jackpot win in an index fund and enjoy the modest proceeds for the rest of my life like it was a second salary; here’s hoping!

Are you ready for Affiliate Grand Slam Bucharest and SiGMA17?

I’m really excited to see the new SiGMA venue and I can’t wait to meet all of our old and new friends in Bucharest.

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?