We continue the Affiliate Interviews series, with another gambling affiliate rock star sharing his own story about his journey into this great industry. Today we catch up with Phil, founder of ExclusiveBonus.co.uk and FootballmatchPreviews.com.
GAV: Hi Phil, first of all thanks for your time and interest! Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did your career start in the industry? What was the main idea of developing this two great sites?
PHIL: Hi GAV. I’ve been in the affiliate gambling industry almost 10 years running a variety of sites. I started in the business doing some admin work for another gambling affiliate and decided to setup my own business with the aim of promoting online casinos and sportsbooks. I decided to develop Exclusive Bonus as a way of listing the best bonus, free bets and other promotions available. With Football Match Previews the aim is to provide good analysis of European football and free betting tips.
GAV: Since there are thousands and thousands of websites out there, and the market is quite ruff at this moment, where do you think exclusivebonus.co.uk and footballmatchpreviews.com stands now?
PHIL: It is difficult as you see sites topping the search engines that aren’t really anything more than glorified adverts. I’m really trying to do something a bit more independent and catered for gamblers. For instance with Exclusive Bonus I’m interested in exploring hidden offers and more obscure promotions. I like to list promos that are good for players, rather than just shamelessly promoting a brand who pays the most.
With Football Match Previews the commercial side is quite small and the user gets a lot of free quality football analysis without being over pressured with advertising.
GAV: How do you see the online casino industry at this moment? What about the football betting industry?
PHIL: In the UK sports betting has exploded which is what I’m more interested in. I started out in online casinos and at the time sports players were fairly worthless compared with casino players. For me at the moment my income is heavily geared towards sports. I find sports more interesting to write about. I think some online casino offers can be interesting, but I find welcome bonuses with impossible turn requirements a bit outdated and unfair on players.
GAV: How did you start and most of all what bumps did you have to overcome in the beginning?
PHIL: I was quite lucky when I was younger. I just handed my notice in at my job in a bank. Met a friend in a bar, got some admin work on a gambling site, started my own gambling site and in a year was making about four times what I made in a year.
The first year seems quite easy looking back. I think things have progressively got more difficult and competitive. So while I’m far more experienced, its not easy these days and much tougher to acquire players. The bumps you have to overcome are kind of inevitable. Main issues are really with the hard time gambling sites are given by search engines, PPC and social media. Also affiliate programs changing your deals is difficult. Generally I’m a big believer in perseverance. I have had multiple things go wrong, but enough goes right to balance that out.
GAV: We have closely analyzed Exclusivebonus.co.uk and Footballmatchpreviews.com!
On ExclusiveBonus.co.uk we 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 blog section, tell us a bit more about it?
PHIL: Sometimes I write myself, but generally I’ll outsource to a team of writers I have. I prefer the way I write as I know the industry well, but practically I don’t have the time to write as much as I would like. The blog is really where I list any offers that stand out. I find its difficult to know what each gambling firm is giving as promotions, so its nice to delve in and find the more unusual offers.
GAV: How about Football Match Previews, do you handle the site alone, let us know a bit more?!
PHIL: I have a writer who helps with the previews. I also have someone who helps with the tips. With this site I’m interested in something that is manageable to the user. We generally give two previews a week. Some of the main sites will preview every game and give hundreds of tips. Due to this in my opinion most free tips on these sites are pretty worthless. Its really a vehicle to promote bookmakers, which I’m sure works well, but I’m interested in having a small base of customers who appreciate the content you give for free and the advertising being secondary.
GAV: Do you find it hard to keep the content fresh and relevant on your websites, when a lot of fluffy and nonsense appear on the Internet non-stop?
PHIL: It can be hard as once you’ve written about a casino bonus it can get repetitive or listing yet another free bet. Fortunately a lot of gambling sites have got much more interesting in recent years with their promotions so this helps keep things fresh as every bookmaker is coming up with new and interesting things that you can write about.
GAV: We’re convinced 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?!?
PHIL: There is issues on both sides. Some affiliate managers can be hard to deal with or a little too pushy, but they are also under a lot of pressure to meet their targets and drive traffic. Generally I favour affiliate managers who have a long term outlook, rather than just what happens this month. A lot of problems with affiliate programs are with the terms, which are decisions usually made by management. I think changes terms and conditions does a lot of damage to a programs reputation.
GAV: How do you see the future of the online casino industry? For instance, will it become a truly global phenomenon? How about the football betting…?
PHIL: I imagine the US market will open up, which will make things more interesting with online casinos. Football is already huge, but you do have issues as a lot of bookmakers have restrictions on a lot of countries. If regulation was worked out better it improves things for affiliates as its presently difficult operating websites with a global reach, but restrictions on which countries that can actually fund your websites.
GAV: Tell us one change that you want to see in the online casino affiliate ecosystem and also in the tipster?!
PHIL: Affiliate programs need to think of the long term, some affiliates could be working for 50 years in this industry. Some protection for affiliates in the form of contracts would be better.
GAV: Do you have any advise you would like to offer for the newbies who are looking to venture into this great industry!?
PHIL: I think its tough, but I’ve seen new guys do things that explode that I thought would never work. There is always a way of doing things better. I’m not the smartest on social media, but some newer affiliates absolutely kill it. I think the best advise is just to keep going. Don’t expect to make money straight away, but with a good idea and a lot of work there is no reason why you can’t compete and make a living.
GAV: Do you attend any iGaming, sportsbetting/online casino conferences? If so, which one is your favorite and what is your most fun experience?
PHIL: Sometimes I do, just because its nice to meet affiliate managers face to face. I really enjoyed the Berlin Affiliate Conference, also London Affiliate Conference is always good.
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?
PHIL: Its not something I have a great deal of knowledge about. I don’t see why not, mostly it will be down to the countries involved regulation. If the regulation is fair to the country and the gambling firms everyone should do well.
GAV: Where would you like to travel in Eastern Europe? Where you wouldn’t want to travel in Eastern Europe?
PHIL: Prague, as my grandfather was born there. My wife speaks Russian also, so Moscow or St. Petersburg would be cool. I probably wouldn’t want to go anywhere too remote, I like my wifi too much.
GAV: Do you have a favourite football player…?
PHIL: Eric Cantona.
GAV: Tell us your opinion about the Gambling Affiliate Voice?
PHIL: I think it’s a great site and I really like the ethos of giving affiliates a voice in a industry in which often the little guys aren’t really heard or giving a platform.
GAV: Thanks for your time and appreciation Phil. We wish you all the best and let us know if you have some news to share!
If you would like to suggest subjects for future interviews, make 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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