Affiliate Interviews: Luke Eales, Founder of Seven Star Digital
Seven Star Digital (SSD) was founded by Luke Eales in 2016 with the aim to provide better gambling comparison services to consumers in the UK and beyond. Since then, SSD’s first website TopRatedCasinos.co.uk has consolidated a very strong position in both PPC and SEO channels within the UK Casino industry, delivering thousands of FTDs to licensed casino operators every month. With a vision for creating a truly comprehensive global online gambling comparison site across all verticals, the company launched Compare.bet in October 2017. Seven Star Digital currently employs a dozen talented marketers and technologists in its London HQ.
Name: Luke Eales
Living in: London
Favorite Food: Italian
Must Read Book: The Pig That Wants To Be Eaten by Julian Baggini
Job title: Founder & CEO
GAV: Hi Luke, tell us and our readers as well, a little bit about yourself, we want to know who Luke really is. How did your career start in the industry? What was your first job?
Luke: This is my first real activity in the gambling industry. But if we’re talking digital marketing, I got started back in 2003. Personal SEO projects made for a nice side earner while studying – at the time I had no inkling that it’d become a career.
GAV: Do you still remember when you first heard about gambling or online casinos?
Luke: It was probably about fifteen years ago – I set up a very small and unsuccessful affiliate site with my brother called Bonkers Betting! It’s hard to avoid the industry when working in digital. Partly because it’s an incubator for bleeding edge acquisition tactics.
GAV: Since there are thousands of websites and portals in this niche out there, where do you think your websites stand at this moment and what is that plus that the other comparison portals don’t have?
Luke: One of our strengths is we’ve come from outside the industry with a fresh perspective. Our inspiration also comes from outside the industry – the big travel and insurance comparison sites for starters. They’re a long way ahead of gambling comparison, but we’re aiming to catch up fast – in terms of content, user experience and brand.
GAV: Tell us about your team a bit!
Luke: We’re based in Shoreditch – hipster central in London. The area has a great buzz, full of startups, as well as vibrant bars, restaurants and galleries. There are currently around a dozen of us at the company, spanning marketing, commercial and tech. We’ve got a great bunch of people all striving to take gambling comparison to the next level. Also, we’re hiring!
GAV: What kind of SEO, digital marketing or affiliate techniques do you follow this year, and how about any new upcoming trends?
Luke: For us, the definition of good digital marketing doesn’t necessarily change monthly or even yearly. Paid search, paid social, organic search – the platforms and behaviours evolve, of course. We’re less focused on the next new thing, tactical marketing trick or short-term win. For us the differentiation is in execution, organisational agility and deep understanding of our lines of business. This allows us to adapt to the evolving landscape, including from a regulatory perspective. Of course, the big change happening right now for data/permission marketers is GDPR. We’re hopeful that this will succeed in ensuring users’ interests and personal data is protected.
GAV: What are the challenges that you and your team face in regards to affiliate marketing in 2018.
Luke: Put simply, the ever-increasing ferocity of competition in the sector. Everyone wants a piece of the pie – we are acutely aware that in order to maintain and grow ours, we have to earn it. This keeps us at the top of our game. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
GAV: How do you manage to keep the websites fresh and relevant, when a lot of fluffy and nonsense appear on the Internet non-stop?
Luke: The crusade for ‘fresh content’ has created a cottage industry of content churners who prioritise volume over quality. We take a different approach – while we do aim to create vast and comprehensive sites, we’re not fans of expansion for expansion’s sake. We find that writing for people rather than search engines acts as an automatic fluff filter.
GAV: We are pretty convinced 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?!
Luke: Trust, transparency and sharing of insights. When you’re providing a quality service and valuable traffic, there is no need for smoke and mirrors in the partner relationship. This honest and open approach makes everything easier and is best for all in the long run.
GAV: Next to the UK market, which are the other ones that you already target or want to expand into?
Luke: We have our eye on several regulated/soon-to-regulate markets in Europe. We’re also growing Compare.bet with a global scope – the recent US news creates great potential, but we expect to pick up traffic from a real long tail of geographies.
GAV: How do you see the Nordic market?
Luke: Having been a fairly stable and attractive region for some years, things are starting to change – with regulation in Sweden and moves to restrict in Norway via payment blocking etc.
Our first step into Scandinavia is with our Swedish comparison site ToppOnlineCasinon.se – we already work with most of the top operators in the region but are being very careful not to make assumptions about user behaviour and what will work over there. Our eyes and ears are open to the requirements of Swedish players and operators alike, and we expect the user experience to diverge from our UK sites based on what we learn about specific local needs over time.
GAV: Tell us one change that you want to see in the online gambling industry?!
Luke: We want running a ‘gambling affiliate site’ to be as well respected as running a ‘finance comparison business’. This will only happen with the industry taking more of a user focus and thinking bigger. There are certainly signs that this is starting to happen.
GAV: Do you have any advice for newbies who are looking to venture into this majestic industry!?
Luke: Get into the data. Not only will it allow you to improve your own metrics, but it will create transparency with partners and the opportunity to work together to grow based on real insights.
GAV: How about iGaming/online casino/gambling conferences, do you attend any of them? If so, which one is your favourite and what is your most fun experience?
Luke: We try to attend as many as possible. It’s rare to leave without a killer insight or two, at least. Face time with partners is also invaluable We’re looking forward to Lisbon this autumn – the weather should in theory be better than Berlin, which is a plus!
GAV: Where would you like to travel in Eastern Europe, any favourite country or region?
Luke: I haven’t seen much of it, so I’d have quite a long to-do list! In particular, I’ve heard great things about Slovenia.
GAV: Where you wouldn’t want to travel in Eastern Europe?
Luke: I wouldn’t rule anywhere out!
GAV: How about a favourite celebrity or a mentor, do you have one?
Luke: I’m not a big follower of celebrity. I have however been fortunate enough to have worked with a range of experienced and knowledgeable senior colleagues throughout my career, all of whom have had a great influence.
Fiat & Crypto: King Billy players get the best of both worlds
See how the casino players can deposit in crypto and play in fiat.
Since the dawn of e-gaming robust payment systems have been crucial for the success of any online casino, as they are a key factor in creating a positive and satisfying gaming experience. Moreover, the availability of different payment options allows players to choose the method that works best for them, whether it be classical fiat money or cryptocurrency.
But is it possible for an operator to give its players the best of both worlds, fiat and crypto at once? Yes, it is, with the King Billy feature “deposit in crypto, play in fiat”. The concept is simple. A casino player deposits in crypto (choosing among 4 cryptocurrencies King Billy supports). Then, the system automatically shows them their balance in the currency of their choice (among the 14 currencies King Billy supports, used by more than 3 billion people worldwide). When the players withdraw, their transaction takes place back in crypto.
What are the advantages of this system? Ruslan Legenzov, King Billy Casino Head of Affiliates (or “Lord of Affiliates” as the internal etiquette demands) has the answers: “Good things come in threes, and there are certainly 3 very good things about our “deposit in crypto, play in fiat” feature.
First of all, depositing in crypto means less hassle and paperwork for the player and elimination of the dreaded “transaction not coming through” issue. This has been a problem and actually a torment for many of our players in remote areas of the world. As a global casino, we are happy to act in ways that give peace of mind to our players.
Secondly, this system offers a greater player experience to the King Billy Citizens and Nobles, as they can now take advantage of our numerous promotions and offers in fiat. For example, players who deposit in crypto can now participate in our extremely popular fiat-only “Slot of the Month” offer, that’s been a staple of our casino since our launch.
Finally, with “deposit in crypto, play in fiat” our players, especially the not so cryptocurrency-savvy have a much clearer understanding of their wins or losses. I am sure that a player, let’s say from Vietnam, prefers to see, in real time, how much his slot win is worth in the Vietnamese Dong than running in parallel a crypto converter tool to do the math!”
Well said and well done your Majesty.
For those interested in the “deposit in crypto, play in fiat” feature, King Billy Casino accepts the following currencies: Euro (€), US Dollar ($), Canadian Dollar (C$), Australian Dollar (A$), New Zealand Dollar (NZ$), Norwegian Krone (kr), Indian Rupee (₹), South African Rand (R), Vietnamese dong (₫), Indonesian rupiah (Rp), Malaysian ringgit (RM), Thai baht (฿) and the Philippine peso (₱). King Billy also accepts the following cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC) and Tether (USDT).
King Billy Casino is a new-generation online casino, launched on St. Patrick’s Day in 2017. It is available in 4 languages (English, German, French and Finnish) and it has an impressive record in awards with 25 wins, shortlists and other distinctions, and an amazing variety of features and games. King Billy has prioritized the creation of a superb user experience, focusing on the myth of King Billy and his Kingdom and treats all players with the specialness they deserve.
Rightlander wins “Best Tech for Affiliate Programmes” at IGB Affiliate Awards 2023
Following the launch of their innovative Smart Workbench, Rightlander, the advertising and affiliate compliance monitoring specialist, have won the award for ‘Best Technology for Affiliate Programmes’ at this year’s IGB awards ceremony in London. The annual award, dubbed the Oscars of the iGaming affiliate market, recognises the most successful businesses in the gambling industry.
Rightlander is a state-of-the-art advertising and affiliate compliance platform that allows advertisers and networks to identify potentially non-compliant content across different territories. It does this by scanning affiliate content from within the target market, looking for events or conditions defined by clients and regulators, and sending alerts when it finds content that meets those conditions.
According to the judges, who praised the submission’s clear evidence and figures showing customer adoption and cost savings, Rightlander’s offering is “a very strong piece of technology which leads the industry in protecting affiliates, operators and ultimately players and ultimately makes the industry better for being in it.”
Ian Sims, Founder of Rightlander said “We are extremely happy to have won the Best Tech for Affiliate Programmes and this is a milestone moment for Rightlander. We developer/marketing folks love to throw around words like “game changing” and “AI-driven” but when you win an award for “Best Tech for Affiliate Programmes” and it’s one of the judges calling it a “game changer”, that is quite an endorsement.”
Over the past 5 years, Rightlander has scanned tens of millions of webpages to help advertisers identify non-compliant advertising by their marketing partners to protect their brand and regulatory licenses.
Casino Guru wins IGB Affiliates Safer Gambling Initiative of the Year
Casino Guru has won the IGB Affiliates recognition in the Safer Gambling Initiative of the Year category.
Casino Guru has won the IGB Affiliates Awards distinction in the Safer Gambling Initiative of the Year category, an award granted to affiliate services with an unfaltering track record in their commitment to raising player protection standards and contributing to the industry’s ability to better understand gambling-related harm.
Casino Guru underwent a thorough review, which included a look into how the company sought to educate and protect players beyond statutory requirements and the active steps taken to introduce players to a safer gambling journey in every market they engage with.
The assessment distinguished Casino Guru for its comprehensive efforts in responsible gambling and gambling harm prevention as captured by the Gamtegrity, the unifying home of all responsible gambling and consumer protection projects and initiatives launched under the Casino Guru banner and name.
Spearheaded by Šimon Vincze, Casino Guru’s Sustainable & Safer Gambling Lead, Gamtegrity reunites some of the company’s most impactful projects and initiatives geared towards raising standards for the entire industry insofar as problem gambling, player behavior, and harm protection are concerned.
Vincze hailed the IGB Affiliates distinction as a deserved and important milestone in the company’s ongoing efforts to provide the industry with guidance on how to better protect consumers and provide players with assistance on their journey to picking the best and most responsible industry operators.
“QUOTE by Šimon”
I am thrilled from this recognition as it includes most of the projects that I work on. However, this achievement is a reflection of work throughout the departments of Casino Guru and I feel honored to translate it to the rest of the industry. Safer Gambling is undersized in affiliate space, and it is great that iGB motivates companies to compete in it.
Casino Guru’s Gamtegrity project reunites the company’s Global Self-Exclusion System (GSES), an ambitious cross-border initiative designed to create a comprehensive global mechanism that enables players to exclude themselves from regulated gambling markets and focus on recovery.
Casino Guru has similarly focused on creating tools that assist and help vulnerable players to address their problem as well as find help, extensive global information and easy access to treatment options.
The company has also leveraged its industry expertise to create the Casino Guru Academy, an ambitious undertaking which understands how important it is to educate industry professionals about best practices in customer support, casino bonuses, safer gambling, and other important areas.
Not least, Casino Guru’s ample effort and experience in maintaining responsible gambling standards that go beyond national legislation have led the company to set up the Casino Guru Awards which seeks to distinguish prominent operators that share the company’s core values in providing consumers with the safest gambling possible.
The Safer Gambling Initiative of the Year distinction is evidence of the strong and meaningful impact Casino Guru has had in bettering responsible gambling standards and seeking to actively assist players who may struggle with gambling-related problems or suffer gambling-related harm.
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