Klas Winberg is the Chief Commercial Officer at Catena Media and proud father of two. We have managed to catch Klas to pick his brain about what makes Catena Media be Catena Media.
EEGReport Magazine: Hi Klas, tell us a bit about yourself, how did you venture into the gaming industry and what are your key activities within the niche?
Klas: I’m a proud father of two with very stereotypical interests such as travelling, sports and good company. I ventured into this industry in 2004 when a good friend of mine recruited me into Expekt.com. This was back in the days when Expekt.com was enjoying market shares of probably around 60% of the Nordic market and poker was the new black. My role, however, was Head of PR and I started to feel I wanted to move into a clear marketing role. Betfair was able to provide me with that and I had seven great years with Betfair. Before coming to Catena Media I was Head of Marketing at a new brand called Luck.com.
EEGReport Magazine: In the past you’ve also worked for Expekt.com as Head of PR, and for Betfair as well! What were the main elements/take homes that you’ve gained at these companies?
Klas: Having been on the operator side for 12 years before coming over to the affiliate side is a great benefit for me as I understand how the operators reason and plan around their affiliate strategies. I think too many times people with affiliate-only experience see the relationship as a zero sum game with only one winner whereas I always try to bring a win-win perspective to the table.
EEGReport Magazine: How did you make the transition to Catena Media?!
Klas: It all started with a meeting with our CEO, Robert Andersson. I was not at all convinced that this challenge would be something that would interest me until I met with Robert. It was quickly clear to me that this was a company with the ambition to change how the affiliate industry works. Once up and running with Catena it did not take long to see what a great experience I had signed up for even though it is not always easy to keep up with the giant strides we keep taking, but that is what always keeps you on your toes.
EEGReport Magazine: In the past year you’ve been really strengthening your market positions, with a few very good acquisitions, like: Casino UK (casinouk.com), SBAT, AskGamblers, but also Playnj.com and Uspoker.com ! Do you have any new acquisitions planned?
Klas: It is no secret that we will keep looking at acquisitions aggressively. It is a central part of our strategy and as long as there remains to be interesting objects out there to buy we will consider them. The coming years will see a substantial consolidation on the iGaming affiliate market, faster than it has happened among the operators.
EEGReport Magazine: It’s clear that you’ve really strengthen your position on the UK an US market, do you have any new markets insight, if yes what would be the main reason to enter those markets?
Klas: I believe that the acquisitions we do in the coming year will primarily be on markets we are currently active on rather than to get into additional markets. We need to consolidate our positions and not be a small operator on very many markets. When we think diversification it is more out of a product perspective.
EEGReport Magazine: It seems like you also would like to venture more deeper into the esports, daily fantasy sports and sports betting sectors/verticals!?!
Klas: With the acquisition of Spelbloggare.se and SBAT we have clearly shown our ambition to grow into the sports betting sector. We are very excited about expanding our product portfolio and will look to do so even further. We want to get to a place where a portfolio operator does not have to turn to five different affiliates in order to cover sports and casino in Sweden, UK and Norway but that we can provide substantial traffic in all of those boxes. In terms of e-sport and daily fantasy sports, suffice to say we are following the development closely. I think fantasy sports have yet to prove that it can be properly monetized before it becomes really interesting.
EEGReport Magazine: Does this mean that you’re really betting on the explosion of esports and daily fantasy sports in the near future?
Klas: For strategic reasons I would not like to comment on this right now.
EEGReport Magazine: With the acquisition of SBAT(UK-based social media sports news, betting and tips website) you’ve strengthen and diversified your position within Paid media by adding social media advertising too. How do you see the future is it gonna be “viral/organic” or “paid”?
Klas: I think the long game is organic. That is where our strength and background are and it is where we have an upper hand on the competition through expertise required over several years. SBAT does do paid but they also have a very good position to grow organically. Having said that I think paid may resurface in different shapes as in building brands out of our sites.
EEGReport Magazine: With a new president in the US, how do you see that market evolving…?
Klas: I think it is anyone’s guess really. I am not even sure that Trump himself has given it a proper thought yet. One fact is that he is the first US president ever to own a casino. That could indicate a protection of his positions on that market. In general, however, I think he will be open to look into the changes proposed by the American Gaming Association who are arguing for fewer regulations and the legalization of sports betting.
EEGReport Magazine: Are there any new trends that we should look out for? In which direction do you think that the European and UK markets are heading?
Klas: Unfortunately, the European markets are out of a gambling perspective becoming more isolationists in my opinion. The good news is that local licenses are to be gained in more and more countries, moving the operator’s presence from grey to white. There will be a period of adjustment between the expectations and demands from the local legislators and the commercial realities of the operators, but I think in the long run these interest will converge in a agreeable position that can work for all.
EEGReport Magazine: Next to the acquisitions, you’ve also been doing some heavy recruitment. Do you plan to open new offices or you’re just really strengthening your position?
Klas: We are not looking to add more offices for the sake of adding more offices. In reality if it was feasible to have everyone sitting in one location that is what we would have opted for. We just happen to have acquired very talented people in different locations and the success of these sites rests on the fact that they are present on those locations. But indeed, we do have a lot of open positions so we are nowhere near fully staffed meaning that we are very grateful for the interest of talented people looking for a new challenge in a very expansive and exciting company.
EEGReport Magazine: Thanks for your time, and we’d like to wish Catena Media good luck for the iGB Affiliate Awards!!!
Klas: Many thanks! We are very much looking forward to it.
This interview appeared first on EEGReport Magazine.
Exclusive Q&A with Jeton Kodia Co-Founder at Oddspedia
Let’s start with a few words about yourself. Our readers love top executives talking about themselves.
My name is Jeton Kodia and I have been in the gambling business since 2009. I became an iGaming affiliate when I turned my hobby into my profession. Gambling is part of my life – I love betting, casino games, and poker. Additionally, with my first name Jeton, it was somehow destiny that I had to step into this industry. I am addicted to football, and I had to lose quite some bets on my favorite team until I learned that when you want to take betting seriously, you need to refrain from your emotional attachment to a particular team and turn your attention more to comparing the odds. Besides football and pro sports in general, I bet on pretty much anything with my friends. This ranges from prop bets about winning at Playstation games to whether my first child will be a boy or girl. There is always something going on in my life which we can bet on.
Now on to Oddspedia. What led to the founding of Oddspedia?
As I already hinted at before, I wanted to focus more on the odds at sports betting. Therefore, I teamed up with Jan, whom I know since we were 18 years old, and who is equally passionate for sports in general and football in particular. Together, we co-founded our company and website Oddspedia. The main goal of our company is to provide valuable, competitive and user-friendly services for sports betting fans, players and publishers. Since its inception and over the course of several years, Oddspedia established itself as one of the biggest international affiliates in the sports betting world.
Could you elaborate on the cutting edge that Oddspedia possesses? There are other companies that offer similar services. What makes Oddspedia “the number one sports companion” of punters?
The website aims to provide as much value to the user as possible, and the information is conveyed in a manner to ensure a great user experience. It starts with guaranteeing a reliable odds comparison – odds on Oddspedia are being scanned in real-time across more than eighty bookmakers to ensure that only the most up-to-date data is displayed. This is complemented by features not commonly found in competing websites, such as geolocation to show only relevant betting sites for the user, direct links to bookmakers’ betslips, full odds movement history and various betting tools. This is part of what makes Oddspedia one of the best sites for odds comparison. But as a matter of fact Oddspedia offers much more than that. The website has amazing sports coverage as well, providing livescore information on more than 30 different sports. Users can also explore sports statistics, bonuses and promotions, or read the latest news on their favourite leagues, teams and matches. All of this wrapped in an app-like web experience, with quick performance and a state-of-art modern design makes it easy for Oddspedia to stand out from its competitors.
You recently overhauled the Oddspedia website. What are the new features that have become user favorites?
In August Oddspedia had the biggest makeover yet with its relaunch. The new version was in development for more than a year, and enabled the development team to apply new tools and technical innovations that were simply not possible on the old site. Major front-end and back-end changes were done to improve the user experience, and the new UI provides much more natural and polished user flow. To ensure seamless operation, updates regarding back-end software, systems, processing odds nodes, and new integrations are introduced almost on a day-to-day basis.
You have also launched widgets for webmasters and digital publishers which help them monetize their website through affiliate marketing? Tell us more about the widgets and process of monetizing.
One of the main issues from editors, publishers and affiliates is providing real time data to their customers. Is extremely hard to find a proper way to do it. The Oddspedia Widgets fill the gap between the sports data feeds and the operators.
For editors, the Oddspedia Widgets have been developed as a real “all-in one” solution. These tools can be implemented into any site by simply pasting their code, providing that site’s users with real time odds data. Publishers can benefit from the live information by not only providing their users an odds comparison widget for free, but they can include their affiliate link to the respective bookmaker. Clicks are simply shared on a 50/50 basis. The way the split works is that the widgets rotate with two links, one for the publisher and the other for Oddspedia which will be applied with equal chance.
Publishers will get real time sports data without any cost for them, at same time they offer that to their customers and readers.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the betting and gambling companies, especially the traditional forms of betting and gambling. It is not yet done yet. How have the lock-down and social distancing measures affected your business?
In every crisis there’s an opportunity. The coronavirus outbreak has had a devastating impact all over the world and on our daily lives, with many businesses in almost every industry feeling the pinch. That’s no different with the gambling industry, as most major sports were suspended in the first lockdown during spring time.
At Oddspedia we expected that the interest in sports will even grow bigger in times of social distancing and isolation. But with the vast majority of sports canceled we had to find a way to react to the situation. We focused on increasing our sports portfolio and cover almost any event going on worldwide. As crazy as it sounds, the matches from a Table Tennis tournament in Russia were checked over a million times on Oddspedia.
There are still positives that can emerge from the pandemic, with virtual sports and esports being one of them. Virtual Sports truly boomed in interest. Esports betting is a vertical in the industry that was already rising in popularity before the outbreak. But now, it’s well on its way to establish itself as a major offering for operators and affiliates, which is set to continue even after we come out the other side of virus lockdowns.
It has been seven years since Oddspedia was launched. Most of these times, you focused mainly on Europe, especially the German-speaking countries. You are now venturing in to South America. How has the user response so far from the Latin American countries, who certainly love their football? Any plans to start operations in Asia?
Our entry into the South American market has been very successful. The audience there is extremely passionate about sports and betting, and they show a great demand for our product. Of course, we provide local users with well-targeted information from local bookies in their native language. We began with the integration of Spanish and Portuguese languages for our product, then we structured our content to be as engaging as possible for local users. It’s no secret, that for users from Brazil, as well as for other Latin American countries, football is the most popular sport. So when entering our website, we meet users with the most interesting football matches from their local leagues. These are shown first and then followed by popular worldwide championships.
This personalized approach is very successful and we have good and stable traffic coming from these countries
Several Asian countries, like Japan for example, are very interesting for oddspedia, as well. However, we deem it highly important to find the right partner when entering a country like that. It is crucial to have the right partner who is fond of the language, can translate and adapt to the correct betting terminology, and possesses local SEO knowledge. We envision to grant sublicenses for oddspedia if the right company to partner with comes knocking on our door.
The technology is moving at an unimaginably high speed. How do you think artificial intelligence and machine learning would impact the betting industry, and specifically the odds comparison
Automation based on machine learning has been key within ecommerce for years and the igaming industry should apply insights gained in other sectors. Offering a personal user experience in a responsible environment comes from understanding and catering to each individual player’s needs from an entertainment point of view. AI is a type of software or hardware that learns – and it could be programmed to learn mostly about users and their behavior and utilize those insights to drive the developments of new, hyper-personalised gaming and internet betting experiences. The technology is being applied to learn our habits, our likes, and our relationship patterns. Online gaming is an industry that runs on data, such as results, stakes, percentages, odds, stats, and so on. All of these numbers are constantly crunched, calculated and analysed behind every major gaming platform. For this reason, ML is actually playing a growing influential role in the sector, changing the game for both online gaming businesses and their players
Finally, what would be your key advises to any new entrepreneurs starting something new in the gambling industry or affiliate marketing sector?
Don’t start something just on your own if you are a newbie. First, dip your foot in the water and gain some experience in the industry. I would recommend starting with a job at a bigger affiliate company or in affiliate marketing at an operator. If you are smart, you can learn a lot quickly and avoid a bunch of costly mistakes you might have made otherwise. In the next step, you can try out your own ideas. By then, you already have a sound understanding of the industry, which allows you to make even better products right from the beginning and the timeframe until you are able to realize a return on your investment is likely to be much shorter, as well.
Bojoko crowned Casino Affiliate of the Year 2020
Online casino comparison site takes home its first EGR Operator Award off the back of a hugely successful year
The party is continuing at Bojoko after the online gambling comparison site was named Casino Affiliate of the Year at the prestigious EGR Operator Awards 2020.
Bojoko fought off stiff competition from some of the biggest names in the affiliate industry, including Gambling.com Group, Catena Media and Blexr, to take home the trophy.
EGR judges said that Bojoko had showed “very strong growth” over the past three years having been the first to use the Airbnb and Trip Advisor model in the online casino sector.
The EGR judges said: “They continue to be innovative with a number of new features which has allowed them to grow to 26,000+ registered members.
“I really like the concept, it’s a true affiliate giving customers choice who to choose, growth looks decent and operators managing the page ensures compliance and cost control.
“It is a clever idea and model and shows good growth,” the judges added.
Bojoko allows online casino operators and game developers to create their own listing and tell their story through their own words, images and videos.
Bojoko members then rate and review online casinos and games based on the experience they receive, with Bojoko’s member base now standing at 26,000+.
Joonas Karhu, Chief Business Officer at Bojoko, said: “We are thrilled to have been named Casino Affiliate 2020 at the EGR Awards and for Bojoko to be recognised as a true leader in the space.
“The Covid-19 pandemic saw operators pivot to casino as part of efforts to mitigate the impact of the global sports blackout, making the casino comparison sector even more competitive than normal.
“The Bojoko team rose to this challenge and I am so pleased that their efforts have been recognised by EGR and its panel of esteemed judges.
“Our mission from day one has been to help players find the best casinos for them while also meeting the highest possible standards when it comes to responsible gambling and safe gaming.
“We continue to innovate and introduce new tools and features to help players filter and compare the 160+ casinos and 40+ game developers listed on Bojoko.
“We have ambitious plans for the coming 12 months, including expanding into the US market, and look forward to doing this with our first EGR award in the bag.”
Karhu launches Professional Gambling Affiliates Association
Bojoko’s Chief Business Officer launches industry group with the aim of creating contractual security between affiliates and operators for the first time
Joonas Karhu, Chief Business Officer at Bojoko.com, has launched the Professional Gambling Affiliates Association (PGAA) to help improve the relationship between affiliates and operators and create contractual security for the first time.
Karhu formed the association after becoming concerned with the imbalance in the relationship between affiliates and operators. The PGAA will address this with affiliates coming together as one in order to push for contractual security and fair terms and conditions when promoting operator brands.
At present, there is no contractual security for affiliates who are forced to sign agreements that are one-sided and subject to change at any time. This can see life-time revenues slashed and fees increased with little to no notice.
This is not the case in other B2B industries and makes running an online gambling affiliate business incredibly difficult. Operating an organisation without a secured contract is unsustainable, making it impossible to invest in growth and putting jobs at risk.
The PGAA intends to create a contract that provides the security its members need to be able to promote operator brands now and moving forwards. The contract will be signed by PGAA members and their operator partners.
Bojoko will handle the initial communication between the PGAA and operators, and will also cover the legal cost associated with creating the PGAA contract. This includes any potential reviews or amendments required now and in the future.
Karhu is now calling on affiliates of all sizes to join the Professional Gambling Affiliates Association. Those interested in signing up can do so by requesting to join the dedicated Professional Gambling Affiliates LinkedIn Group here.
Joonas Karhu, Chief Business Officer at Bojoko, said: “The situation online gambling affiliates face is unprecedented when compared with other industries and sectors. Running a business without a secured contract is simply unsustainable and puts organisations and their employees at great risk.
“By creating the PGAA, I hope to be able to provide the contractual security that affiliates need to be able to promote operator brands and be confident that the players they send and the revenues they generate are secured over time.
“I am now calling on all affiliates to join the PGAA and for operators and other industry stakeholders to support the association and its mission to level the playing field for affiliates and to provide the contractual security they need and deserve.”
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