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Affiliate Interviews: Toni Halonen, Co-founder & CEO of Good Game

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Affiliate Interviews: Toni Halonen, Co-founder & CEO of Good Game

Good Game is an iGaming lead generation company based in Malta. Good Game differentiates itself from its competitors by concentrating only on a handful of sites, focusing on user intent and creating recognisable brands from these few sites. Long-term value for the user and partners has been the key to their success in the Finnish casino affiliate market.

Name: Toni Halonen

Age: 34

Hometown: Ilomantsi, Finland

Living in: Malta

Favourite Food: Traditional Finnish home cooking, Japanese, Indian, Thai

Must-Read Book: The Lord of The Rings, The War of Art

Job Title: Co-founder & CEO

Hi Toni, tell us and our readers a little bit about Good Game. How did your career start in the industry?

I’ve always been fascinated by all sorts of games, be it sports, computer games, board games or gambling. I opened my first online casino account when I turned 18 and started dabbling with online poker around 2004.

After finishing my studies in 2008, I started thinking what I should do for a living and it was then that I came across poker affiliation. The idea of having my own site came to me in 2008, but it took one year of the “real working life” before I jumped into playing poker professionally and chasing my affiliate dream. 🙂

Luckily I wasn’t alone in this, because my childhood friend, Ville Sissonen, also played online poker and showed an interest in affiliation. Our half-serious, half-joke motto in the beginning was: “maximising the passive income”. 🙂 Passwords to our affiliate accounts were always something like “BuyM3rc3d3s2010” back in the day, haha. I still don’t have a Mercedes, but Ville bought his first this year. (The passwords have since been changed, so no point trying to log in. 😉 )

Good Game was established in Malta in 2011 by me and Ville. We came to Malta to play online poker professionally and build affiliate sites on the side. The affiliate business only really started to pay off after our Head of SEO, Jussi Kauppinen, joined the company in 2013. During that time, we also began concentrating only on casino affiliation.

We sold our then main domain in 2015 and went all-in with the money from the first sale straight into building our next project – this time in an actual office 🙂 and with a team of ten people. That project came to an end at the beginning of this year when our main casino site was bought. Now we’re concentrating solely on our UK project.

Explain your current UK project, Bojoko.com, in one sentence.

Airbnb for online casinos.

What makes it different from other casino affiliate sites based on player communities, casino reviews and social proof?

The biggest difference from our competitors is that Bojoko allows casinos and game suppliers to create their own reviews, and publish their own offers and game reviews. This way they can control their brand (tone of voice, design etc.) beyond their own website and ensure that affiliate marketing for their brand is done according to the UK Gambling Commission’s standards.

Casinos and game suppliers have understood this concept well. New casinos have been especially keen on listing themselves on Bojoko.

What’s the reason behind launching Bojoko? In other words, why does Bojoko exist?

There are a couple of reasons why we’ve built Bojoko. First of all, we wanted to minimise the role of an affiliate in everything the user sees and interacts with on the site. Secondly, we see a big gap in how iGaming is consumed compared to other industries operating online. Selecting, playing and transfering money to casinos could be a lot more fluid and safer than it is now.

Our purpose is to build tools for Bojoko users, which they can then use to create this more fluid, safer vision of iGaming. We want to positively transform the iGaming user experience. This way we can establish casino games as an acceptable mainstream pastime too.

How do you see the UK market?

It’s certainly more competitive than the Finnish casino affiliation market and there are many more established brands which are almost non-existent in Finland. It’s a good challenge to build a site for a large market.

Tell us one change that you want to see in the online gambling industry?

I’d like to see all forms of online gambling becoming as accepted in the mainstream as lotteries are. Offering more user-centric products and safer gambling will move the needle to the right direction. There are good initiatives underway in the UK in these two areas, although I’d like to see us, the gambling companies, driving this change and not relying or waiting for regulators to do it. There’s a much bigger pie waiting to be shared in the long run if iGaming becomes a widely accepted and respected industry.

Do you have any advice for newbies who are looking to venture into casino affiliation?

You should constantly ask yourself questions which reveal what kind of person you are. This helps you find the values and ideals you want to push forward in the industry you’re working in. It will also boost your motivation immensely and endow you with a more holistic approach to building your business.

What do you think will be the biggest trends in iGaming in 2018?

Regulation is one, for sure. It will bring new rules to online gambling once again, but it also brings predictability (such as in Sweden) and new markets (US sports betting) to the table. Predictability and new markets are great things for the entire online gambling industry.

What other new things can we expect from Good Game and Bojoko in the second half of 2018?

Bojoko has just rolled out a new tool which helps users tremendously in their casino selection. The tool is attached to our casino lists and lets users filter and sort online casinos easily with over 30 different data points so you can really get to the one casino that satisfies all your requirements. Just like hunting for the perfect vacation home on Airbnb.

In the coming months, we’ll be focusing on bringing more user features like this to Bojoko. They will help users mainly in two ways:

  • Selecting online casinos more quickly and easily
  • Interacting with other Bojoko users in our community

If you find this interesting, the best way to stay tuned to Bojoko and join in the fun is to sign up on the site.

Affiliate Success

Ad Fraud and Affiliate Marketing Strategies: How Online Gaming Companies Can Transform Their ROI

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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.

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Affiliate Success

Vita Media Group wins Casino Affiliate of the Year Award at the EGR Operator Awards 2022

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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.

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Affiliate Success

Casino Guru establishes Awards Project to recognize greatest industry achievements

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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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