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Affiliate Affairs: Interview with Klas Winberg of Catena Media

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Klas Winberg-catenamedia

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.

Catena Media

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.

Affiliate Announcements

Digital Marketing Mixer to be hosted for second iteration of FREE business networking on 30th June

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Digital Marketing Mixer to be hosted for second iteration of FREE business networking on 30th June

 

 

Last month saw the launch of the first Digital Marketing Mixer, a FREE business networking event created by Lee-Ann Johnstone which hosted over 150+ iGaming and Affiliate Marketing professionals in attendance.

The event which received outstanding delegate reviews, will be hosted again on Monday 30th June between 4-6pm (BST) via Zoom. The aim of the speed networking event is to bring together affiliates and digital marketers, technology providers , agencies, experts and marketing service providers together to promote their services virtually.

With limits on travel and attendance at physical events still in play opportunities to network for new business have been limited. That combined with increased remote working has had a natural impact on business development slowing in the short term.

The Digital Marketing Mixer has been created as an open platform for professional social networking to take place in a structured but relaxed virtual atmosphere. The event has been created to support new business and continued lead generation for all businesses operating in the Affiliate industry.

Lee-Ann Johnstone, the event host commented: “The Digital Marketing Mixer is a key event for digital and affiliate marketing businesses to get better connected during this uncertain time. The objective is simple, bring people together to talk, to collaborate and ensure new business and service opportunities continue to thrive. I’ve created this FREE networking event for EVERYONE to benefit from in the affiliate industry to help get new business deals done.”

The mixer remains 100% FREE for delegates to attend and is open to any vertical. Once again the event is held in collaboration with founding collaborators GPWA.org, iBet Directory, and AffiliateINSIDER collaborating to deliver this event.

“The toughest part of the conference experience to replicate online was always going to be those oh-so-important conversations in the bar. I was delighted to find myself in just such conversations at the Digital Marketing Mixer – top marks! “  said Sue Dawson from bestnewbingosites.co.uk who attended last month’s inaugural event. 

The Digital Marketing Mixer will offer a host of  fun networking games, speed selling challenges and enable delegates to enjoy discussing the latest industry trends whilst providing a platform to market their goods and services. The focus of this event remains on getting digital and affiliate marketing professionals quickly connected, getting new deals – done!

Lloyd Richman, founder of iBet Directory commented: The Digital Marketing Mixer Party is a great concept and offers all delegates the option to contribute unlike other webinars and conferences. It had a good mixture of natural event speakers, experienced iGaming professionals and new people to the industry. A great event which was highly successful.

If you are an agency, affiliate, consultant, operator, digital marketer, payment provider or saas product owner, everyone working with or in the affiliate industry is welcome to attend.

RSVP FOR FREE and join the Digital Marketing MixerHERE

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Affiliate Announcements

Mr Gamble is the fast growing iGaming affiliate taking the world by storm

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Player-friendly approach to casino comparisons sees audience grow to new highs 

In January 2019, two iGaming enthusiasts from southern Finland, Paavo Salonen and Jonas Kyllönen, created an affiliate site which follows a different path to competitors in the sector – Mr-Gamble.com was conceived to provide a user-friendly service that details the key benefits for different online casinos.

In a little over a year, the team at Mr-Gamble (owned by CashMagnet Ltd) has grown from two to sixteen people, and their site is attracting millions of views and an audience of thousands, eager to find a more discerning comparison site for online casinos.  With such impressive growth, the company is now moving to bigger offices in their adopted home town of Tallinn, Estonia.

Putting the players first has been key to this success, with the team’s focus to build a casino comparison site which highlights the various benefits from leading online casino operators.  Easy-to-use filters allow players to match specific search criteria to their needs, such as high quality casino bonuses, with a brand promise to help users “find a 200% bonus in under one minute”.

 

Moreover, with responsible gaming high on regulators agendas for 2020, not least due to COVID-19, Mr-Gamble’s onboarding policies for new casinos include strict criteria to ensure player protection.  Time-out periods, self-exclusion options, financial limits, and more are all in place to reassure players that beyond the entertainment factor, their well-being is key. 

Jonas Kyllönen explains, “While our competitors focus simply on the bonus offer and a select few aspects of gaming, Mr-Gamble.com highlights things like hidden T’s & C’s and other small details that make up the overall quality of a casino’s service and the bonuses they offer. We even include a section purely for casinos that offer free spins, allowing players to find free spin offers without deposits.  This sets us apart from old school affiliates and builds trust with our audience, resulting in a high proportion of returning visitors.”

Kyllönen, who leads on all aspects of marketing for Mr-Gamble, also realises that staying plugged in to media platforms such as Twitch and Instagram enable the company to attract some of their users from the elusive millennial market.  

“In just six months”, says Kyllönen, “we became the most watched slots channel on Twitch in Finland, and alongside our Instagram following, this allows us to stay in touch with our audience across multiple touch points – it’s been key to our growth. We still see SEO and PPC as the main pillars of the casino affiliates sector, but complimentary channels like Twitch are both entertaining and good for business.”

This well-rounded approach to the casino comparison sector is both innovative and forward-thinking, standing the company in good stead for the coming decade, during which adapting to change and staying on top of market trends will separate the men from the boys.

Mr Gamble’s affiliate offering is already well-established in Finland, and in April 2020 Mr-Gamble expanded operations to more English-speaking markets including the UK and Canada. The company also plans to target the US market, with licensing currently underway, and is looking at opportunities in Asia. 

Alongside Finnish casino enquiries, the company invites English language operators from international markets, particularly in the UK and Canada, to contact silver@cashmagnet.money for more information on deals and listings. 

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Affiliate Success

Exclusive Q&A with Marinos Shiapanis, CEO at Campeón Gaming Partners

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Exclusive Q&A with Marinos Shiapanis, CEO at Campeón Gaming Partners

 

We shall begin with the iGB award. How do you feel after winning this award? Had you expected this award?

We really didn’t. This was our very first time being nominated at the iGB Affiliate Awards and, given the fact that the competition was really high, we were not expecting to hear our name. Needless to say, we were – and we still are – overwhelmed and very excited. It was a team effort, and this is why we celebrated as a team after receiving the award in London.

This is the first time Campeon has been nominated for iGB Awards. And you hit the bull’s eye in the first instance itself. How do you see this honour: as a reward of your hard work or as a stepping stone for future innovation?

I think it is a little bit of both: it is definitely a reward and a recognition of the whole Campeón Gaming Partners team’s hard work and effort, but, at the same time, this is a stepping stone for us to do more, invest more in innovation, expand and further develop across all sectors. The whole team, and especially the Affiliate & Partnerships team, really devoted themselves to the company and they are the reason we have managed to win this award. Such an award is extremely important for us, as it shows how far we have gone in such a short period of time; we have managed to slowly establish ourselves in the iGaming industry, become a familiar face for affiliates in the market, expand our network and grow as a team and a brand. However, winning this award doesn’t mean we stop here; this is not just a motivation for us, but an obligation as well to work harder, focus more and deliver even better results. I think you will hear more of us the coming months.

The award recognises how Campeon stood out in terms of “transparency, inclusiveness and continuous support”. What are the things unique to the affiliate program of Campeon Gaming Partners?

Since the beginning, our vision was to create an affiliate program that would not only attract affiliates, but it would also keep them engaged. We started off with a small network and as we were building it up, we were also improving our program. Today, our network is comprised of over 1,000 affiliates and our affiliate team has managed to establish personal relationship with each and every one of them. To us, it’s crucial to put a face to the name; it’s not just about numbers, it’s about having a person who you know will listen to you and deal with your issues no matter how big or small. This is our way of thinking: we treat each affiliate’s request as equal, and I believe that our affiliates appreciate this.

In early 2019, our team dedicated themselves into redesigning the program’s strategy, aiming at building stronger, more interpersonal relationships with our partners, and providing them with better models in order to maximize their profits. At the same time, we optimized the affiliate experience, from the registration of the player, all the way to the affiliate statics’ analysis we have successfully merged, integrated, and incorporated all of the Campeón Gaming Partners’ brands into new platforms, ensuring that no affiliate activity was ever disrupted.

The award also mentions how Campeon offered tailor-made program to the affiliates. Could you shed more light into the deeply customizable affiliate programs of Campeon Gaming Partners?

Each affiliate has his or her own needs that looks into serving through a program. At Campeón Gaming Partners, we understand that, and every time we onboard an affiliate, we go into deep discussions with him or her to understand what they are looking for in our program. I think the most important fact for our affiliates is that we assign them their very personal point of contact, who is there for them whenever they are in need. So, when we onboard a new affiliate, we first assign him or her their point of contact, who makes sure to talk to him or her, understand his or her needs and goals and together they create a program tailor-made to the affiliate’s needs.

What are the qualities that you look forward to in an affiliate? Not all affiliates are likely to become successful, right? Based on your experience, what separates the successful affiliates from the rest?

We want our affiliates to treat us the same way we treat them: with respect and transparency. We always do our best to accommodate our affiliates’ needs, so we are looking into building partnerships based on trust. I think this is the most important part for us.

Regarding the second part of your question, I believe that definitely industry knowledge and audience play a significant part in separating successful affiliates from the rest. But besides these, I think that players are looking for affiliates who will be honest with them, affiliates they can trust; I believe it is the only way to build up a players’ audience.

New new social media platforms are increasingly micro-targetting the end customers and automated CRM tools are getting more and more advanced. In this scenario, how do see the future of affiliate marketing evolving?

I believe that affiliate marketing is already changing and with these new tools it will change even more in the future. We are now entering a new era: the digital and customized era. Customers are increasingly becoming more and more demanding; they now know they don’t have to compromise anymore with mass solutions, so they are asking for customized ones. They demonstrate their needs and preferences and demand for an experience tailor-made to them. I believe this is where affiliate marketing will focus in the future, and all the new or upcoming tools available, will give us the advantage of analysing the customers’ behaviours and providing the best solutions to them. Affiliate marketing of the future will evolve around customized player’s experience, in my opinion.

Finally, tell us about any big announcement in the near future. Expanding to more countries? Launching or integrating new products? Or a new marketing campaign? Our readers will be eager to read something first here.

A couple of weeks ago, we launched our first Pay N Play platform for the Scandinavian market, SvenPlay. In a few days, we will be launching our brand new, themed platform, Sons of Slots. This is a challenge for us, as it will be the first time we are introducing such a themed platform to our players. The Sons of Slots story goes back to the motor gangs of the US and it all evolves around that; rough street battles, leather jackets and ripped jeans, long hair, and endless road trips on their Harleys. This is what inspired us and we wanted to bring something very exciting to our players. Entering the Sons of Slots platform, our players will be transferred to a new world, the world of American motor gangs; they will play their favorite games in a new, adventurous environment, with exciting features, which will take their gaming experience to a whole new level. To bring this project to life, we have invested heavily in technology and this is why we partnered with a major agency, MaxCreate, specialized in bespoke front-end design, in order to be able to offer more flexible and versatile platforms to our players and to our affiliates.

I think 2020 is our year, and people will hear more of us: exhibitions, PR, awards… We will make it happen.

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