Affiliate Affairs: Interview with Klas Winberg-Catena Media (EEGReport Magazine – Issue 5 – February – May 2017)
Klas Winberg is the Chief Commercial Officer at Catena Media and proud father of two. We have managed to catch Klas to pick his brain about what makes Catena Media be Catena Media.
EEGReport Magazine: Hi Klas, tell us a bit about yourself, how did you venture into the gaming industry and what are your key activities within the niche?
Klas: I’m a proud father of two with very stereotypical interests such as travelling, sports and good company. I ventured into this industry in 2004 when a good friend of mine recruited me into Expekt.com. This was back in the days when Expekt.com was enjoying market shares of probably around 60% of the Nordic market and poker was the new black. My role, however, was Head of PR and I started to feel I wanted to move into a clear marketing role. Betfair was able to provide me with that and I had seven great years with Betfair. Before coming to Catena Media I was Head of Marketing at a new brand called Luck.com.
EEGReport Magazine: In the past you’ve also worked for Expekt.com as Head of PR, and for Betfair as well! What were the main elements/take homes that you’ve gained at these companies?
Klas: Having been on the operator side for 12 years before coming over to the affiliate side is a great benefit for me as I understand how the operators reason and plan around their affiliate strategies. I think too many times people with affiliate-only experience see the relationship as a zero sum game with only one winner whereas I always try to bring a win-win perspective to the table.
EEGReport Magazine: How did you make the transition to Catena Media?!
Klas: It all started with a meeting with our CEO, Robert Andersson. I was not at all convinced that this challenge would be something that would interest me until I met with Robert. It was quickly clear to me that this was a company with the ambition to change how the affiliate industry works. Once up and running with Catena it did not take long to see what a great experience I had signed up for even though it is not always easy to keep up with the giant strides we keep taking, but that is what always keeps you on your toes.
EEGReport Magazine: In the past year you’ve been really strengthening your market positions, with a few very good acquisitions, like: Casino UK (casinouk.com), SBAT, AskGamblers, but also Playnj.com and Uspoker.com ! Do you have any new acquisitions planned?
Klas: It is no secret that we will keep looking at acquisitions aggressively. It is a central part of our strategy and as long as there remains to be interesting objects out there to buy we will consider them. The coming years will see a substantial consolidation on the igaming affiliate market, faster than it has happened among the operators.
EEGReport Magazine: It’s clear that you’ve really strengthen your position on the UK an US market, do you have any new markets insight, if yes what would be the main reason to enter those markets?
Klas: I believe that the acquisitions we do in the coming year will primarily be on markets we are currently active on rather than to get into additional markets. We need to consolidate our positions and not be a small operator on very many markets. When we think diversification it is more out of a product perspective.
EEGReport Magazine: It seems like you also would like to venture more deeper into the esports, daily fantasy sports and sports betting sectors/verticals!?!
Klas: With the acquisition of Spelbloggare.se and SBAT we have clearly shown our ambition to grow into the sports betting sector. We are very excited about expanding our product portfolio and will look to do so even further. We want to get to a place where a portfolio operator does not have to turn to five different affiliates in order to cover sports and casino in Sweden, UK and Norway but that we can provide substantial traffic in all of those boxes. In terms of e-sport and daily fantasy sports, suffice to say we are following the development closely. I think fantasy sports have yet to prove that it can be properly monetized before it becomes really interesting.
EEGReport Magazine: Does this mean that you’re really betting on the explosion of esports and daily fantasy sports in the near future?
Klas: For strategic reasons I would not like to comment on this right now.
EEGReport Magazine: With the acquisition of SBAT(UK-based social media sports news, betting and tips website) you’ve strengthen and diversified your position within Paid media by adding social media advertising too. How do you see the future is it gonna be “viral/organic” or “paid”?
Klas: I think the long game is organic. That is where our strength and background are and it is where we have an upper hand on the competition through expertise required over several years. SBAT does do paid but they also have a very good position to grow organically. Having said that I think paid may resurface in different shapes as in building brands out of our sites.
EEGReport Magazine: With a new president in the US, how do you see that market evolving…?
Klas: I think it is anyone’s guess really. I am not even sure that Trump himself has given it a proper thought yet. One fact is that he is the first US president ever to own a casino. That could indicate a protection of his positions on that market. In general, however, I think he will be open to look into the changes proposed by the American Gaming Association who are arguing for fewer regulations and the legalization of sports betting.
EEGReport Magazine: Are there any new trends that we should look out for? In which direction do you think that the European and UK markets are heading?
Klas: Unfortunately, the European markets are out of a gambling perspective becoming more isolationists in my opinion. The good news is that local licenses are to be gained in more and more countries, moving the operator’s presence from grey to white. There will be a period of adjustment between the expectations and demands from the local legislators and the commercial realities of the operators, but I think in the long run these interest will converge in a agreeable position that can work for all.
EEGReport Magazine: Next to the acquisitions, you’ve also been doing some heavy recruitment. Do you plan to open new offices or you’re just really strengthening your position?
Klas: We are not looking to add more offices for the sake of adding more offices. In reality if it was feasible to have everyone sitting in one location that is what we would have opted for. We just happen to have acquired very talented people in different locations and the success of these sites rests on the fact that they are present on those locations. But indeed, we do have a lot of open positions so we are nowhere near fully staffed meaning that we are very grateful for the interest of talented people looking for a new challenge in a very expansive and exciting company.
EEGReport Magazine: Thanks for your time, and we’d like to wish Catena Media good luck for the iGB Affiliate Awards!!!
Klas: Many thanks! We are very much looking forward to it.