EEG: Given your experience in the field of affiliate and affiliate manager relationships, do you think that there is a particular strategy which affiliate managers should follow in order to conduct face-to-face meetings during conferences that can motivate and influence partner affiliates?
TG: The absolute key to preparing and conducting a face to face meeting from an affiliate manager’s perspective is to quite simply be yourself. The pressure on affiliate managers to pick up new affiliate business at conferences can be overwhelming, along with the pressure that vibes you’ll pick up on the conference floor that perhaps a harder, more aggressive sales technique may get better results. No matter your sales technique, stick to what you’re good at and be damned sure that you know your product (and by that I mean the entire business or businesses you represent) inside and out. Have stats at your fingertips (ideally memorized) and make them personally relevant to the affiliate you are meeting.
EEG: In our opinion the freebie era is soon coming to end. Which are the channels that should be considered by Affiliate Program managers in order to motivate new and already established partners?
TG: Work out what the key selling points are about the brands you are pushing, if they are unique all the better. Work out which type of affiliate (top 4 or 5) suit those selling points. Work out what an affiliate from each affiliate type is currently earning per click they deliver to your program and set out a plan for improving that figure with every new and existing affiliate in each group. So, for instance, if gaming content is your brand’s thing, make sure you are on the ball in terms of communicating game launches to slots review affiliates and that you have a game review, a bespoke promotion (doesn’t have to be a freebie) and the creative material to support it all both built and optimized. Just be on the ball…
EEG: We have read in one of your recent interviews that you have started providing affiliates with M&A support and acquisition advisory services. How did this work out? Any success stories that gone viral? How does this actually work?
TG: We started this service as selling up is obviously something which serves as an end goal for many affiliates, indeed businesses, and the M&A marketplace is really fluid at the moment in iGaming and for affiliates specifically. We have partnered with an experience corporate services and advisory firm in the Isle of Man (SMP Partners) to prepare affiliates for sale and to broker both sales and purchases. We have a few in the pipeline at the moment, but you’ll understand if I choose not to proclaim anything a success just yet!
EEG: With all these buyouts, publicly and secretly signed, do you think that there are any independently owned affiliate websites out there that are still making a good income without having to renegotiate each deal they have to keep up with the pricier network-wide deals that are offered to large affiliates?
TG: The critical thing for businesses acquiring affiliate websites/businesses is that they do not cannibalise the market through aggressively seeking to improve commercials at a time when operators are going through a similar M&A spree – and will be looking to cut their operating costs (and paying affiliates less is an obvious position to move to). The same goes for those remaining independent. Keep focusing on other metrics that deliver performance aside from commercials – and most importantly the elements you can control to a point – notably increasing unique visitor numbers, driving repeat visits and contextualizing both content and outbound calls to action to maximize the chance of converting the customers to the operators.
EEG: There are a lot of talks and even forums about affiliates switching side and becoming operators. Do you think that this is a good idea? Running a casino/sports betting operation isn’t as easy as running an affiliate business.
TG: Running an affiliate business isn’t easy, but the overheads, responsibilities and general administrative firefighting that comes with running an operation must never be underestimated. Diversification is one way to grow your business – but as we’re seeing with the likes of Catena and RakeTech, this may be better served by expanding your network of sites and continuing to do what you know rather than take on the burden of an operation, with perhaps market exploration being an appropriate route.
EEG: Are you familiar with the current trend that has been set by newly regulated Eastern European markets in regards to affiliate licensing. The National Office for Gambling in Romania has set a trend which is slowly being copied by other market that are going to open in 2017. It is the yearly license fee that affiliates have to pay in order to operate legally. But wait, the operators are forced not to accept them if they aren’t holding the license in that particular country.
TG: I am currently working on laying the groundwork for a global self-regulatory body for iGaming affiliates, with the purpose of stymying the desire for over the top governmental regulation that serves to hinder the growth of our business. Self-regulation is the way forward to sustain a progressive, responsible and thriving iGaming affiliate industry. With national or regional regulators stepping in unguided, we are likely to see an unhealthy blend of control and revenue generation becoming their focus, which will only lead to a diminution of the affiliate industry.
EEG: As a closing questions, what should affiliates that are looking to venture in the industry should look for when making their first partnership?
TG: The first starting point is building relationships. Obviously do your research on appropriate operators to partner with, but within that group, work out which affiliate managers are capable of syncing with the way you are looking to grow your business. Beyond that – ask them the question: what, based on the way I work/will work can I expect to earn for every click I send you? Most AMs won’t be able to answer you straight away, many won’t be permitted to tell you… only work with the ones that can and are, and make growing that figure your combined focus in the partnership.