We hope that you all had a wonderful holiday season and that you’ve also managed to rest and recharge your batteries for 2017!?! In this years first affiliate success story we present you Lena of CasinoHawks.com, an expert website, which is constantly gathering the most relevant information, news, reviews of online casinos, game developers, online slot games and jackpots.
Name: Lena Sciberras
Hometown: Kemerovo, Russia
Living in: Sliema, Malta
Favorite Food: pepperoni pizza
Must Read Book: One Hundred Years of Solitude
Profession/Job title: Content and SEO Writer https://www.casinohawks.com/
GAV: Hi Lena, first of all thanks for your time and interest! Tell us and our readers a little bit about yourself. How did your career start in the industry? What was the main idea of developing this great UK focused online casino website?
LENA: I have a long background in journalism, copy-writing, editing, SEO and marketing. About 7 years ago I moved to Malta from Moscow. In Malta, the iGaming is very strong, so many expats find themselves joining this exciting industry. I did too a few years ago, and have been absolutely loving it ever since. For the last 9 months, I’ve been working on CasinoHawks.com, so it’s now nearly like a baby for me.
GAV: Since there are thousands and thousands of websites out there, and the UK market is quite ruff, where do you think Casinohawks.com stands now?
LENA: That’s very true. The UK casino affiliate market is extremely saturated, but from my perspective, there are not that many affiliate websites that combine the strong quality of writing together with the exclusive deals and offers. Casinohawks.com website is a part of Game Lounge Ltd group which has established itself as one of the strongest affiliate companies in the Nordic markets. This year Game Lounge won “Affiliate of the Year” award as a part of the first instalment of “Malta iGaming Awards”. So together as a company, we have enough know-how to build a solid and successful affiliate brand in the UK. Just give us a few more months, and we will show our full force.
GAV: How do you see the online casino industry at this moment? How about the UK market?!
LENA: As we said, the UK market is quite overloaded with affiliates of all kinds, sizes and quality levels, but we believe in high-quality content and exclusive deals with the coolest online casinos, so there is always room for us. In general, I feel like UK casino market changes in a way that players get more aware of the newer casino brands, more international casinos, that have already established themselves on, let’s say, Scandinavian markets, and now they are conquering the UK. We have a long relationship with many of these casino brands, and that’s another strength of CasinoHawks.com.
GAV: How did you start and most of all what bumps did you have to overcome in the beginning?
LENA: It’s always hard at the beginning, you have to write so much and make all those exclusive deals and offers, but you have zero return or feedback in the first few months. No results at all, which can be extremely discouraging and frustrating for many other affiliates. But we have a positive experience from the other markets and great support system from the Game Lounge affiliate group, so it was possible for CasinoHawks.com to survive that first period and now things are definitely picking up and I start seeing results, which is very rewarding.
GAV: We have analyzed Casinohawks.com and found some great online casino reviews. Are you writing it by yourself or do you have a team of people writing for you? How many reviews are there on your website? How about the news section, tell us a bit more about it?
LENA: Thank you, that’s great to hear! When it comes to Casino brands and casino websites, I review them all myself, so we have a certain uniformity and a proper system of how we go through the process to establish whether a casino is worth trying or not. Right now we work with more than 25 casino brands, but next year this number will probably grow a lot.
Game reviews, casino guides, promotions and news are a bit different, and here we have a small team of dedicated writers to make sure that there is always new fresh content for our readers to discover.
GAV: Is it hard to keep the content fresh and relevant on your website, when a lot of fluffy and nonsense appear on the Internet non-stop?
LENA: It’s true to some degree, but I feel like because the industry is booming there is always something new. New games, new casinos, new promotions, cool campaigns, etc. So I never feel that there is nothing to write about on any given day. But it’s also important to sometimes take a different look at things, maybe bring some more analytical (but still fun!) articles that show things that are trending right now. One other thing that we started lately is the exclusive video content. On CasinoHawks.com we now have a whole section of videos and interviews, all produced in-house, where we take our readers behind the scenes of the different casinos or game developers and show the people who run all those casinos and how. We feel that it’s unique content, it’s fun to watch, but it also does a fantastic job at building trust. It creates a more human approach and shows the real people, casino management that players can relate to.
GAV: We are pretty sure that you receive messages from Affiliate Managers on a daily basis showcasing their best products. What are your thoughts on how a real Affiliate Manager-Affiliate relationship should be built?
LENA: Yes, absolutely! There are so many casinos, and you cannot work with all of them, even if you wanted to. Naturally, we concentrate on promoting casino brands that give us a fair commission and the above average size bonuses for our readers and players, so everyone is a winner. On the other hand, it also comes down to building an actual relationship, feeling comfortable with the casino affiliate manager. There has to be some genuine personal connection, so it’s easy to work together and overcome any issues that might occur. We are lucky that we are based in Malta, where many casino brands have their headquarters as well. So we can physically meet in real life and actually get to know each other. I feel that is something that helps a lot.
GAV: How do you see the future of the online casino industry? For instance, will it become a truly global phenomenon?
LENA: It’s hard to say, but we see some markets opening up. For example, the Asian markets are becoming more viable.
GAV: Tell us one change that you want to see in the online casino affiliate ecosystem?!
LENA: To be honest, it’s fine as it is. Time will show which casinos and which affiliates are the strongest, most professional, consistent and have something unique to offer and those will thrive no matter what.
GAV: Do you have any advise you would like to offer for the newbies who are looking to venture into this great industry!?
LENA: For the affiliates – consistency, creativity, patience. For the new casinos, it’s definitely a different angle, something unique and exclusive to offer when it comes to design, overall theme and the loyalty program. Any new online casino that opens today has to stand out from the crowd to be noticed and remembered.
GAV: Do you attend any iGaming/online casino conferences? If so, which one is your favorite and what is your most fun experience?
LENA: The last one was SiGMA 2016 in Malta in November, and it certainly was a lot of fun, especially because of the video-interview project that CasinoHawks / Game Lounge had going on. Our whole team really enjoyed bringing this new venture to life. And thanks to our casino partners, who all happily went along, it turned out to be a great adventure.
GAV: What do you think the chances are for Eastern Europe to become a potential gaming hotspot in the near future? Where do you think the region must still improve upon?
LENA: Some countries in Eastern Europe are embracing casino, gaming, IT and other parts of the whole process, but some others, as we know, only make it more complicated. So I don’t think we can talk about the Eastern Europe as a whole, only about particular countries with their specific views, legislation’s and attitude towards iGaming. In many countries, gaming is still a grey area, but the potential is certainly there. We just have to remember that in this region too much depends on the political decisions and not the iGaming industry efforts as such.
GAV: Where would you like to travel in Eastern Europe? Where you wouldn’t want to travel in Eastern Europe?
LENA: Being native Russian myself, I have visited quite a few countries there, and for me, it’s easier to feel more comfortable in these places. But I know many Europeans who feel a bit uneasy with the thought of it, and it’s understandable. If we are talking more about casual tourism and not business, I would love to visit Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic soon. I have a lot of friends there; and they are all beautiful places with great history, culture, architecture and lots of yummy food.
GAV: Tell us your opinion about the Gambling Affiliate Voice?
LENA: You guys are doing a great job. Your website is one of those, that I regularly visit, because you truly help to keep up with the latest news, trends and just interesting stories that all of us, affiliates, can relate to. Just keep it up!
GAV: Thanks for your time and kind words Lena, we hope that 2017 will be a great year for CasinoHawks / Game Lounge!
If you have any questions or subjects for future interviews, be sure to send your suggestions to: [email protected]
Ad Fraud and Affiliate Marketing Strategies: How Online Gaming Companies Can Transform Their ROI
By: Richard Metcalf, Global VP, Sports Betting & Online Gaming, TrafficGuard
Betting companies can adopt cutting-edge technology and offer the very best odds, but amplifying your brand is still difficult in a saturated industry. As a result of relaxing regulations, international players can break into an increasing number of new markets but reaching local target audiences can be a challenge. For these businesses, affiliate marketing is a vital channel in driving new user acquisition and some of the largest sportsbooks like Paddy Power and DraftKings are among those utilising the strategy.
With competition fierce, businesses are in a constant battle to keep costs low. Cost-per-thousand (CPT) payment models for traditional TV advertisements are progress towards paying for performance, but vendors still cannot guarantee that exposure will translate to depositing customers. Affiliate marketing provides a cost-efficient, low-risk alternative because businesses pay for conversions only.
But with money to be made, affiliate advertising fraud is rife and affiliate partners are likely delivering invalid engagement. If betting companies are looking to expand their user base and market amongst big players, they must improve their visibility over affiliate partners’ traffic.
Tracking Affiliate Activity
From smaller players to large conglomerates, there’s an exciting opportunity for betting companies to establish their presence across global markets. In the US especially, rapid legalisation across multiple states has turned betting into a million-dollar industry and created a profitable opportunity for overseas operators to move into the new market.
However, marketing globally can be expensive and driving brand awareness in a new location is often time-consuming and resource-heavy. With affiliate marketing, betting companies can create a network of partners from across the globe and easily access international audiences. This strategy is also much more efficient and expansive than physical marketing methods as it removes the difficulties that are tied to building a target audience from scratch.
Although affiliate marketing is a valuable marketing tool for increasing brand awareness and authenticity, affiliate management platforms aren’t prioritising fraud. The measures they put in place themselves are often basic and easy to get around and fraudsters can easily fly under the radar by taking advantage of the lack of protection. The nature of affiliate marketing means there is a disconnect between the promotion, analytics and payment, preventing companies from getting a holistic view of the fraud impacting them in addition to paying out for valueless traffic.
Affiliate fraud in the betting industry includes any deceitful action taken by a third party to exploit marketing techniques. This can include click fraud, where fake clicks are generated on ads to earn commission payments; or cookie stuffing, where fake cookies are placed on computers to hijack affiliate sales. Malicious affiliate ad programs do this so they can earn money from false clicks or sales and target high-investment marketing campaigns.
Research by Forrester revealed that 81% of advertisers include affiliate marketing as part of their marketing strategy. The growth of the market, paired with the increase in competition, is why many are turning to affiliate marketing. However, by being cost-effective through performance-based pay, there is an increased attraction from fraudsters. Sports betting companies are not well-equipped to address the problems they face with ad fraud.
Statista predicts affiliate marketing spending in the US alone will reach $8.2 billion by the end of 2022. With the vast amount of money involved, sports betting companies are a target for fraudsters.
Getting Instant Access
In order to prevent fraudulent traffic, betting companies must increase the visibility they have over affiliates. By keeping track of partners’ activity, including reviewing their demographics, reputation and quality of traffic, they can increase the quality of their affiliate partners.
Betting companies can do this using third-party technology that can indicate that affiliate scams are taking place in real-time to deliver the most reliable fraud protection. Intelligent software that uses behaviour analysis, such as machine learning, can track the volume of data required to deliver an accurate, instant analysis of which traffic is valid, invalid and fraudulent. Machine learning can identify granular details such as an unusually high number of clicks on an ad, or a high number of sales from a single IP address to confidently assess and deal with invalid traffic so the betting company doesn’t have to pay out.
With this data, operators gain the confidence to cross reference the engagement affiliates charge them for, prevent any partners from trying to outmanoeuvre them and safeguard their business against malicious activity. With more protection over advertising campaigns and a larger proportion of clicks coming from conversion-ready leads, companies can build cleaner audience groups from high-value affiliate partners.
Better Visibility, Better ROI
Reaching a market size of $231 billion in 2022, the sports betting industry is becoming increasingly attractive to international operators and fraudsters alike. If you’re running an affiliate marketing program, there’s a high chance you’re paying out for partners’ invalid traffic.
Only using the data your affiliate program partners declare means you’re at risk of being misled. Affiliate programs need to be monitored to avoid scams and program fraud. By understanding which affiliate partners are directing invalid traffic to their websites and charging a premium price for it, sportsbooks can optimise their pay-outs and exceed competitors’ efforts.
Vita Media Group wins Casino Affiliate of the Year Award at the EGR Operator Awards 2022
Vita Media Group, a Danish iGaming company, won the Casino Affiliate of the year award at the 2022 edition of the EGR Operator Awards held in London.
The Casino Affiliate of the Year Award is the first major award that Vita Media Group has won.
Vita Media Group’s CEO Jimmi Meilstrup believes this award comes as an appreciation from the iGaming world to all the employees in the company who are delivering extraordinary results every day.
“On behalf of everyone in our company, I am deeply grateful for this award which is the first large-scale award that we have won as a company. From day 1, we promised the iGaming world we are going to build this company on the principles of loyalty and trust. Through hard work, a lot of research, and indeed a great amount of quality traffic generated and delivered, we have excelled in casino affiliation. To everyone who chose Vita Media Group as a partner, thank you, and be sure to expect even better results from us in the future” commented Jimmi Meilstrup.
During the award night held in London on October 27 th , 2022, Vita Media Group was shortlisted 4 times in different categories:
• Affiliate of the year (Headline category)
• Casino Affiliate of the year
• In-house product for the in-house developed iGaming loyalty and reward platform Ekstrapoint.com
• Affiliate Program for the fast-growing developed affiliate program OMG Affiliates
In the Casino Affiliate of the year category, the judges from the EGR Operator Award were reviewing applications based on significant traffic, player numbers, ROI for operators, ability to build strong partner relationships, brand innovation and marketing, and player retention strategies.
The EGR Operator Awards, considered the Oscars in the iGaming industry, are organized by EGR Global, a leading publisher of online gaming B2B news, analyses, and research.
In 2021, Vita Media Group was shortlisted for the first time at the EGR Operator Awards in the Affiliate of the year category for affiliation services and the Rising Star category for its affiliate program OMG Affiliates.
Casino Guru establishes Awards Project to recognize greatest industry achievements
The Casino Guru Awards is the latest project by Casino Guru inspired by guiding the dialogue on consumer safety, and it reflects on the company’s ambition to acknowledge and reward achievement in the gambling industry, specifically in the sectors Casino Guru has contributed to –responsible gambling and consumer education. Casino Guru Awards is the result of this long-term commitment to making gambling safer, fairer, and more accountable for all participants.
Drawing on years of experience as the defining affiliate service in the industry, Casino Guru has transcended its core model to make global changes to the industry, including through its Global Self-Exclusion Initiative, Casino Guru Academy, Fair Gambling Codex, and other initiatives.
Now, the company is stepping up its responsibilities of a gambling industry custodian with the Casino Guru Awards which will celebrate the most committed operators in industry and the professionals who shape its future. The inaugural edition of the event is designed to raise awareness for the Awards and help the most deserving companies serve as good role models industrywide and reach a broader audience.
To participate, companies may nominate themselves through the end of November 2022. Casino Guru will also select worthwhile nominees that will be added to our list in a process that is fair, transparent, and above all else, distinguishes and focuses on merit. A shortlist will be announced in December2022with the official ceremony held online in February 2023. All decisions regarding the outcome of the event will be carried out by hand-picked judges.
Casino Guru Awards will feature judges from some of the biggest companies that are well-established names in the industry, including Kindred Group, Betsson, Gamban, Epic Risk Management, Gordon Moody, and more. The panel will include close to 15 external judges and five of Casino Guru’s own specialists.
Commenting on this project, Daniela Kianicová, PR & External relations Lead at Casino Guru, said: “Casino Guru Awards is a natural continuation of the efforts Casino Guru has put into making gambling safer, fairer, and more transparent for everyone. We worked on the Awards and the categories with the idea to emphasize on areas of the industry that are crucial to consumer safety and can always be improved on.
Our commitment to safer and responsible gambling is unflinching and I am honored to have the opportunity to work alongside the industry’s most distinct professionals to make gambling safer for players. It’s clear to me that Casino Guru Awards will be a benchmark for companies in the industry and a high accolade for any entity that wants to help write the gambling world of tomorrow.”
Casino Guru Awards will run in several categories which will focus on a mix of business achievements and consumer needs. The company feels strongly that achieving a level of excellence across these verticals will result in a better gambling industry for all. The categories include “The Fairest Bonus Policy,” which assesses the fairness of Bonus T&C’s and whether a bonus accounts for breaching applicable rules by accident, among other and equally important criteria.
“The Fairest General T&Cs” category will focus on how a casino’s T&Cs ensure that customers are protected and safeguarded and that they do not fall prey to predatory or hidden rules and details. In true Casino Guru spirit, “The Most Impactful Social Responsibility Initiative” will focus on those operators and companies who understand the importance of responsible gambling and problem gambling prevention.
There is a separate category that will independently assess “The Best Implementation of RG Tools” and “The Most Transparent Casino.” Another important category will be “The Most Effective Handling Complaints,” which is another area where the Casino Guru team feels improvements can be made, giving operators an incentive to operate in a clear and consumer-centric way. Casino Guru is experienced in this particular area having established the Casino Complaint Resolution Center which has thousands of closed cases already.
Last but not least, there is “The Voice of the People” which will be decided by the players, without any intervention. You may find out more about the Casino Guru Awards on the official page, including details about submitting a nomination, who the judges are, and what to expect in the months that lie ahead.
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