Name: Nina Sparv
Hometown: Vasa (Finland)
Living in: Andorra
Favorite Food: Seafood, I guess I´m not allowed to answer wine here, am I?
Profession/Job title: CMO & Co-founder at Epicorns
GAV: Hello Nina, first of all tell us and our readers as well a little bit about yourself, we want to know who Nina really is? How did your career start in the industry? Since when are you active at Nya Casinon?
NS: I`m born in Vasa, a small city in the west coast of Finland. It´s a two-language city, so I actually speak Swedish with my family instead of Finnish. An interesting fact that many people might not know about Finland. I kind of ended up in the industry pretty randomly, I was tired of Finland and I was searching for some new adventures. In the same moment, my previous boss in Finland asked me if I would be interested into moving to Cyprus. He had a friend that was working as a CEO for a gambling company that needed a copywriter for both Swedish and Finnish content so he thought I might fit, since I also happen to love playing slots. I had no experience in the industry, but I liked it a lot from the very beginning. After working as a copywriter / content manager for one year, I got promoted to Business Manager, where after I was responsible for the business development of 3 separate casino brands in several different markets. The company was fairly small, so it was great that they gave everyone so much responsibility, since I learned a lot during the 1,5 years as a Business Manager. Without that experience, I wouldn’t probably be where I am today. Many people say you shouldn´t mix work and personal life, I couldn´t quite live up to that, since that´s exactly what happened in Cyprus, I met my soul partner Jaume at work. We moved together and after a while we got tired of Cyprus and moved to Andorra to set up our own affiliate company and online marketing company. It sounds easy and fast, but there was a lot of sweat, tears and endless amount of work before the company first of all, was setup, and second of all, before the sites actually started generating money.
GAV: We know that you’re also active at an international online marketing company, tell us all about it?
NS: Epicorns (our company) was first setup as an online marketing and consultancy company to be able to generate income, that we later could use on investing in our affiliate sites. We have been doing a lot of consultancy and online marketing services during the last year to generate income, such as SEO, web development and content writing. Now that our affiliate sites have started to generate money, we don´t focus much on promoting our online marketing or consultancy services, but it´s always good to have them as a backup plan.
GAV: Since there are thousands of websites and portals in this niche out there, where do you think nya-casinon.org stands now and what is that plus that the other portals don’t have?
NS: First of all, the Swedish market is very competitive, and it´s difficult to compete against all the giant affiliate companies nowadays. That´s also why we´ve decided to focus on a small niche within the market, which is new casinos, where we should be able to reach some of the top positions in Google with the great domain that we have. It´s still a very new website, and it will probably take some time for it to jump higher in the rankings, but we´re working hard with the content and the SEO constantly.
GAV: Next to the swedish market which market do you target?
NS: With nya-casinon.org we naturally only target the Swedish market, but we have in total around 150 websites targeting a lot of different markets. Currently we´re focusing mainly in the Finnish, Swedish and Spanish markets, but we also have websites in Norwegian, German, English, Portuguese, Italian and French.
GAV: How do you see the online casino market/industry at this moment?
NS: I don´t think it´s needed to say, but it´s a very competitive industry, although it´s still a fairly new industry. Every time it´s getting more difficult and it´s taking way longer time to be able to reach high rankings for the websites. There´s new affiliates sites and casinos launched every month, so you must keep up with the speed if you want to be in the game. Before you could basically rank a website with few pages and some blogposts, which nowadays is barely impossible.
GAV: Is it hard for a woman in this industry, which are the advantages and disadvantages?
NS: I don´t see it hard as a woman to be in this industry, we´re obviously not the majority, but there´s a lot of professional women within the Igaming industry. I wouldn’t say being as a woman is any different from being as a man in the industry, neither do I have any advantages or disadvantages to mention.
GAV: In your opinion what are the strong points of nya-casinon.org and what makes it stand out from the other niche websites?
NS: Since I write most of the content myself, I would say unique content and up to date blogposts for the users about the latest promotions and news.
GAV: We have browsed your website and found some great quality content. Are you writing it by yourself or do you have a team of people writing for you?
NS: I try to write as much as I can myself, but since we have already a lot of websites in both Swedish and Finnish, it´s difficult to keep up with everything. Last year I was writing for all the websites, but now there´s too much work in other parts of the websites to be done. The blogposts and news I always write myself, but for the rest of the new content I have 3 freelance content writers helping me out, one in Sweden and two in Finland.
GAV: How about the online marketing and SEO of your website, how many team members do you have, let us in on a new trend that you guys are following?
NS: In the marketing and SEO, we´re in total 3 people, and we try to divide the workload by markets or countries, where I usually work with the Swedish and Finnish markets. I would lie If I say that we have some awesome new trend that we´re following, it would sound cool though. Our main target right now is to keep on doing what we´re doing, and keep growing the sites with great content and good links.
GAV: How do you manage to keep all the website fresh and relevant, when a lot of fluffy and nonsense appear on the Internet non-stop?
NS: Since I write most of the blogposts and news myself, it´s not that difficult. I check the news within the industry daily and scrolling through all the available promotions and offers few times a week to be able to write about interesting topics for the users.
GAV: We know for sure that you receive messages from Affiliate Managers on a daily basis showcasing their best products. You, of course select them by the brands they work with. What are your thoughts on how a real Affiliate Manager-Affiliate relationship should be built, and how not?!
NS: Nowadays it depends a lot, since there´s these huge affiliate companies but also small startups like us, so of course the relationship with the affiliate managers is not the same for both. I prefer to work with affiliate managers that are genuinely interested in our business and in us, not just interested in how many players we can bring in one month. We have a lot of affiliate managers that have helped us, and have been interested in us, from the beginning, although we weren’t able to bring much players. These are the relationships that later have turned into friendships, which I think is a beautiful part of the business.
GAV: How do you see the future of the online casino/gambling industry? For instance, will it become a truly global phenomenon?
NS: After visiting Las Vegas this month, I think that the gambling industry will for sure always exist. It provides a bit of excitement to the everyday life for a lot of people. Gambling is already very popular in many places all around the world, so I´m sure it will at some point become a truly global phenomenon. About the online casino business, I think it will become more and more regulated for each year in the countries, but that it will surely always exist.
GAV: How about the swedish market, and the Nordic market, it has seen a huge growth?
NS: Gambling, Poker and Betting is something that have been advertised in the Nordics already for years, so I would say that the Nordics (Finnish people specially) are gamblers by nature. You can´t even step into a food shop without seeing slots and huge lottery jackpots. The “Boom” of the Nordic markets happened already some years back, but there´s constantly entering more and more players due to new younger generations and new innovative marketing campaigns.
GAV: Tell us one change that you want to see in the online casino industry?!
NS: Trust. In countries like Malta, UK and Sweden for example, the casino industry is a normal everyday business. But in many other countries the casino industry is even illegal, although betting and sports is very popular for instance. This is one of the reasons this business is still seen as a bit “dirty” and “not reliable”, although the people like me for example, are doing normal online marketing stuff, just like any other person working in an online focused business.
GAV: Do you have any advise you would like to offer to newbies who are looking to venture into this majestic industry!?
NS: Patience. It will take time, a lot of work and knowledge before you´re able to make a living out of this business on your own.
GAV: How about iGaming or affiliate conferences, do you attend any of them? If so, which one is your favorite and what is your most fun experience? Did you attend the Nordic Affiliate Conference?
NS: I love going to the conferences, I think it´s because I´ve never actually lived in a place where the business is based and where there is a lot of people from the business to talk with, on every day basis, like in Malta for example. The conferences are the only time I have a chance to catch up with friends and colleagues within the business. I would say my favorite conference is the iGB, Berlin Affiliate Conference that I´ve attended a couple of times. This year we haven´t had time to join any conference yet, unfortunately neither the Nordic Affiliate Conference. But we´re heading in September to the Affiliate Grand Slam in Bucharest and in November to SIGMA in Malta.
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 improve upon?
NS: I´m pretty sure it will become a gaming hotspot, there´s a lot of potential traffic, but it´s still not very popular.
GAV: Where would you like to travel in Eastern Europe, any favorite country or region?
NS: Oh that´s a difficult question, there´s a lot of cool and beautiful places in Eastern Europe. I would like to travel to Romania and Czech Republic since I haven´t been there before. Now we will visit Bucharest in September since we´re attending the Affiliate Grand Slam conference. If I must pick a favorite country I would pick Poland, although I like Estonia a lot as well.
GAV: Where you wouldn’t want to travel in Eastern Europe 🙂 ?
NS: Travelling and exploring new places is awesome, so it would be wrong if I said I didn´t want to travel to some specific place.
GAV: How about a favorite celebrity or a mentor, do you have one?
NS: I have a lot of favorite celebrities, mostly YouTube stars, especially Pewdiepie and a famous Spanish youtuber: AuronPlay. I also like the Spanish president Rajoy, he´s just too funny with his comments that doesn’t make much sense most of the times.
I also have to mention Jaume (my better half) here, since he has been a very big influencer and mentor in my life since the first day we met.
GAV: Tell us your opinion about the Gambling Affiliate Voice?
NS: It´s a good and important iGaming magazine, since I like to keep up to date what´s happening within the business I try to check the website few times a week. There´s a great variety of different news and updates which I usually find very interesting and worth reading.
GAV: Nina, thank you for the interview, if you have any news to share just let us know! We wish you guys all the best!
If you would like to suggest subjects for future affiliate interviews, 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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