The journey continues, and we strive to bring you all, and I mean all of the inspirational stories out there. We have recently come across an interesting brand, which is based in the Scandinavian market. It’s called Rebel Penguin – interesting name, you can find out why they’ve chose it in the interview – and is founded by Jonas Warrer. So, without any further delays, here goes our interview with Jonas Warrer.
GAV: First, we would like to thank you for the opportunity to interview such a highly appreciated professional of the industry. Could you fill out the short form below so our readers can imagine your profile?
Jonas: Thanks – I am thrilled by the opportunity to share my experience and story with the iGaming community.
- Name: Jonas Warrer
- Age: 37
- Hometown: Copenhagen
- Living in: Copenhagen
- Favorite Food: Seafood
- Must Read Book: The Old Man and The Sea
GAV: Tell us a bit about yourself, we want to know who Jonas Warrer Petersen really is, the main person behind the Rebel Penguin brand and its websites. Where were you born? What was the key idea of developing this large brand which covers every aspect of the Scandinavian gambling market?
Jonas: It all started when I was studying in New York. The big sites covering American sports impressed me (e.g. espn.com and sportsline.com) and I wanted to do their counterpart in Europe. It seems a bit naïve looking back but I reckon you have to aim for the stars.
GAV: I must say that I’m impressed with your flagship product Live Goals, where do you think your websites stand at this point?
Jonas: We have spent quite some time on usability, content and making pages all responsive. Overall I am quite satisfied with our websites within these aspects. Our key theme right now is making things stable and (more) scalable. Within sports things are so event driven so everything happens in peaks which you really need to be able to cope with.
GAV: What are the strong points of the website and what makes it stand out from the niche websites, beside its already gained credibility?
Jonas: It has to be simplicity and responsiveness. A lot of our competitors – and especially the big ones – have not updated their website nor design in the last several years. We have tried to take a less-is-more approach when designing the website. As over 60% of our traffic now comes from mobile you really have to optimize for all devices; a key aspect here is trying to focus on what is need-to-have and what is-to-have. If you try to include everything and target everybody – at least in my experience – you end up with a product nobody really thinks is amazing.
GAV: What were the bumps on your road when you got started and how did you overcome them?
Jonas: Building a business model around banners is dead (or you really need high numbers of traffic). The biggest bump on the road definitely was to understand how to convert users into customers. I can highly recommend the book “Don’t make me think” by Steve Krug if you are starting out online. Focusing on the user sounds so simple but you often get entangled in doing things you personally think are awesome – whereas the users really don’t care. Kill your darlings!
GAV: Why Rebel Penguin? It’s seems to be a catchy and interesting name.
Jonas: Penguins are true survivors; they survive in the coldest and harshest climates on earth where they can often be the only animals there. I would be proud to manage a business with these qualities and that’s why the penguin name came up. Everybody has to be a bit of a rebel – haha – so the name sort of wrote itself when we started out.
GAV: We have browsed your websites and found some high quality content. Are you writing it by yourself or you have a team of people writing the reviews? How many reviews are there on your website?
Jonas: We have two full-time journalists working in the team. They wire a lot of reviews and previews – both focusing on events and sportsbooks/casinos. We also have a bigger team of freelancers focusing on their local language. Content needs to be unique – otherwise don’t bother to do it.
GAV: We are sure that you receive daily messages from Affiliate Managers showcasing their products. You of course select them by the brands they work with; but what are your thoughts on how Affiliate Manager-Affiliate relationships should be built?
Jonas: Trust and stability! If you want your business to grow you need to optimize and optimize. In my experience you only get the opportunity to do this if you work in a stable relationship with a handful of Affiliate Managers. Landing pages, calls-to-action, key claims etc. – there are so many opportunities to improve things as you move down the conversion funnel. My best advice is to focus on that – rather than hunting short-term enhanced deals or promos in the iGaming industry. Trust is the oil that makes this process run smoothly. Be honest and assume that your Affiliate Manager is equally intelligent as you. I have seen too many newbies trying to outsmart their Affiliate Manager – which I really believe is a killer for your business.
GAV: How do you see the future of the gambling industry? For instance, will it become a truly global phenomenon in the near future?
Jonas: I think we will see more and more countries regulate online gambling. Like with everything else online the entire world is becoming the local market place. Gambling might be restricted in e.g. the US – but people find a way around. The young can’t understand why you ever would go to a betting shop to gamble. As the older generations are replaced the pressure will intensify on the countries that are trying to restrict online gambling.
GAV: Can you name one change that you want to see in the sportsbetting affiliate ecosystem?
Jonas: More transparency and more trust between affiliates and operators. We would all benefit.
GAV: What advise you would like to offer to the new affiliates who are looking to venture into this great industry?
Jonas: Nothing beats hard work. Attend all the conferences and events in iGaming when starting out and share your ideas with people. Nearly all people like to share their experience – utilize that. There are so many opportunities in iGaming – and such high growth – so don’t be afraid of people copying your ideas. People are already stuck in their own fantastic idea that they want to realize.
GAV: Who is your favorite celebrity?
Jonas: That’s a tricky one. It’s boring I know but the first person to think of is really Bill Gates. I am impressed by how he is using his personal wealth – and connections to other wealthy people – to make a better world. It would be so easy for him to sit back and enjoy but instead he chose to get involved in making a better world. I love the process towards making things better. Hope is just a very strong feeling and motivator.
GAV: If you would just open your YouTube search bar, what would you search for?
Jonas: The Strokes – One Way Trigger. It’s manic and crazy. Great for working. 🙂
GAV: Back to work. Do you attend any iGaming conferences? If so, which one is your favorite and what is your most fun experience?
Jonas: London, Amsterdam and Berlin are all great conferences to go to. I attend all of them. I really like clubbing with Affiliate Managers after a long day of meetings. The opportunity to talk outside of the work setting creates a stronger relationship which makes things much more fun. Personally having a great relationship with the people I do business with motivates me. Going crazy in Felix Club in Berlin with bet365 is just one of those great moments that I think is so unique to this industry. You get the chance to work hard – and the chance to party hard. 🙂
GAV: How do you rate the chances of Eastern Europe becoming potential gaming hotspot of the future? Where do you think the region must improve upon?
Jonas: In my mind most things here depend on lawmakers adapting to the new world. Eastern Europe is very much online and very much likes to gamble. Lawmakers should adapt to that and give people the freedom to decide what they want to spend their money on rather than trying to confine them to an old regime of control and boundaries.
GAV: Alright, here comes the fun part…., where would you like to travel in Eastern Europe, some part of the region maybe that you haven’t visited yet and favorite destination around the world?
Jonas: A country like Ukraine is so vast and so full of history and culture. I would love to find myself stuck out there just meeting the locals without a bigger plan for what should happen. My country – Denmark – is just tiny compared to the vast landscapes in Eastern Europe. I would love to experience the “endless” landscapes out there. Favorite destination has to be Greece – how can you not love a country where everything is going so slow and relaxed. They are really miles apart from traditional Scandinavian efficiency – I love that part – they got life figured out.
GAV: Where you wouldn’t want to travel in Eastern Europe?
Jonas: It’s probably best advised to stay away from some Russian borders right now, but I don’t have any no-go areas.
GAV: What is your opinion about EEG/GAV (Eastern European Gaming – eegaming.org)/Gambling Affiliate Voice – gamblingaffiliatevoice.com?
Jonas: I think it’s awesome that eegaming.org focuses on the Eastern and Central European markets as they hold the potential for future growth in iGaming. I would very much side with perfecting the Affiliate – Affiliate Manager relationship so cheers for the good work guys. Keep it up.
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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