Please meet Lee James Gwilliam, of OnlinceCasinoVegas and Commercial Manager at Blexr Ltd!
Name: Lee James Gwilliam
Hometown: Middlewich, Cheshire, UK
Living in: Sliema, Malta
Favorite Food: Steak
Must Read Book: East of Eden, John Steinbeck
Profession/Job title: Commercial Manager
GAV: Hello Lee, first of all, tell us and our readers as well a little bit about yourself. How did your career start in the industry?
Lee: I ended up in gambling quite by accident! Despite being a keen poker player, I had no ambitions to work in the industry. I’d been involved in online marketing and affiliation in other sectors for many years and semi-retired with my own retail operation to Malta in 2011. A few years ago, I found myself needing to get a ‘proper’ job again and being in Malta, iGaming seemed a good fit with my e-commerce and content background.
GAV: We know little about Blexr other than it is an international performance marketing company, tell us all about it?
Lee: We’ve always preferred to be a private company, small but with a big footprint. We’ve various product verticals across casino, sportsbook, poker, bingo and financial services. I’ve actually just got back from the EGR Power Affiliate event at Goodwood where we are now ranked in the top 50 affiliates worldwide, in fact, top 10 in some of our niches.
The website you contacted us about, OnlineCasinosVegas, or OCV as we call it in-house, was an acquisition made by us rather than an in-house product. It’s one of our smaller properties but not to be underestimated. We bought it last year as part of a wider network from a very well-known UK affiliate and seasoned gambler.
GAV: Since there are thousands and thousands of websites in this niche out there, where do you think OnlineCasinosVegas.com stands now?
Lee: What makes OCV stand out, is the very thing that made it attractive as an acquisition. So many modern affiliate sites offer just basic cookie cutter content, OCV was written by a professional gambler and although the design might be a little antiquated to modern eyes, it’s incredibly knowledge driven throughout. This shows through in the quality of the site’s audience and we think this will become even more important in the future. Serious gamblers want serious content.
GAV: How do you see the online slots market/industry at this moment?
Lee: More competitive than ever. Just a few years ago a few some companies, such as NetEnt, were miles ahead of the other developers. Now, you have a whole host of bespoke operations offering great game content and with VR and skill based games on the way these are very exciting times for both the industry and players alike. Sports betting too, with expansion into E-Sports and other niche areas is far more diverse than ever before.
GAV: How did you start and most of all what bumps did you have to overcome at the beginning?
Lee: Once, Blexr was a small affiliate like thousands of others, with a simple poker rake back site. This was successful and led to further acquisitions. The founders have been very careful to re-invest in both the company and its employees which has allowed us to grow to where we are today. Outside of the challenges faced when any affiliate business becomes ‘a real company’ rather than a small team, the biggest roadblocks were managing our migration into a full performance marketing operation instead of ‘just’ an affiliate.
Before several of the modern ‘super affiliates’ landed, affiliate operations simply didn’t have such a wide remit and there was no model to copy for structure. Building such a structure from scratch is a challenge that many have failed, fortunately, we didn’t. As a result, we now offer consulting in CRM, market research, marketing, affiliation and brand launch in addition to the direct acquisition that a stock affiliate provides.
GAV: We have analyzed OCV and found some great quality content. Are you writing it by yourself or do you have a team of people writing for you? How many slots are there on your website? How about the your news section?
Lee: The nature of my current role sadly prevents me from contributing as much to content as I once did though I still mentor one of our writers and do a little key content to keep my hand in and stay match fit. We’ve a writing team of more than 40 people across the network and they are looking to add more slots to OCV in the coming months in addition to the several hundred already on the site. We’ve also been expanding the detail in some of the older articles and written some in depth guides for skill based games. The news section has fallen a little by the wayside in recent times but we hope to turn that back into an active blog in the future once we’ve dealt with all the existing articles.
GAV: How do you manage to keep the content always fresh and relevant on your website, when a lot of fluffy and nonsense appear on the Internet on a daily basis?
Lee: Hire experienced, well-trained and knowledgeable writers and then pay them well. Really, it’s not that hard when you break it down. A number of slots sites are just concerned about being first to market, they don’t even play the games they are reviewing, they write a preview based on a few screenshots available before launch. Whenever we advertise for a new writer we are inundated by ‘content-writer’ CV’s who’ve been working in the industry for years just on the basis they were native speakers. That isn’t enough if you want deep value content. It’s like auditioning for the national football team because you own a pair of boots and can kick a ball. Writing is a profession like any other and you want the best professionals who have put years into their trade.
GAV: With all the Google updates that we’ve all witnessed how do you guys approach SEO, content and of course generating good traffic?
Lee: Google is being very helpful to us just lately with its move towards prioritising ‘value’ based content. Fluff is yesterday’s content, just being first to write on a subject is barely enough to get you there and certainly isn’t enough to keep you there. The same applies to SEO, spam is dying, both content and SEO must be top notch for you to rank for good keywords and bring in good traffic long term. Things are biasing more and more to user value and this can only help people who are trying to do the job right. I’m not saying there aren’t plenty of tips and tricks or shortcuts still out there, but, the fundamentals are becoming ever more important.
GAV: We are pretty sure 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; but what are your thoughts on how a real Affiliate Manager-Affiliate relationship should be built?
Lee: Literally hundreds, by 9 AM any given day my skype looks like a Christmas tree! A good AM(affiliate manager) will earn their employer a fortune, a bad one will cost them the same. It would terrify some operators to know how much an AM has potentially cost them at one point or another because a relationship went sour. That said, affiliates have a responsibility to try and help bridge the communication gap too and help AM’s gain experience.
I’ve accepted a speaking position at a conference later in the year on managing affiliate relationships from our point of view and am starting a LinkedIn series next week called ‘Friday frustrations’ to try and get some things out there from the affiliate standpoint. It isn’t fair that affiliates complain about the ways AM’s approach them and deal with them when they aren’t making any attempt to feed back the data – we want to do our part in correcting this and contributing to the industry.
GAV: Which markets do you target at this moment and are you planning to break in into emerging markets?
Lee: We are already a global network, with our reach approaching triple digits in terms of the countries we target for. That being said, we think emerging markets and newly regulated markets should be the big focus for affiliates and operators alike.
GAV: How do you see the future of the online casino/gambling industry? For instance, will it become a truly global phenomenon?
Lee: I think my point above indicates that to be so! Yes, some countries are way behind and others have stumbled due to regulatory processes but this will be and, in many ways already is, a global business.
GAV: Tell us one change that you want to see in the casino affiliate ecosystem?!
Lee: Proper affiliate software between the affiliate and the operator. Transparency is the first step to rebuilding trust on both sides of the gambling industry and neither party can optimise their business with each other properly without full accurate data sets.
GAV: How about the UK market, is there still place to grow, what is your position?
Lee: The UK is one of the hardest markets out there right now amongst the premium countries. The existing, and future regulations facing both operators and affiliates only adds to the difficulty. However, this also creates opportunities for those companies which can navigate this and create stable, sustainable business models. It will be a tough market with lots of opportunity for the right businesses.
GAV: Do you have any advise you would like to offer to newbies who are looking to venture into this great industry!?
Lee: Have a niche and master it. There is a new casino every other day, white labels which are all but identical bar their branding. The brave and creative businesses which do something different are the ones we will be talking about as the next success stories in 5 years time.
GAV: Do you attend any iGaming/online casino conferences? If so, which one is your favorite and what is your most fun experience?
Lee: I seem to spend as much time at networking events and conferences as I do at home these days. I’m a big fan of the IGB events and the EGR event recently at Goodwood was an exclusive treat. SiGMA, as our local conference, is very important and we will exhibit there this year. Their local networking events are impressive too and so is the new Affiliate Grand Slam concept.
GAV: Tell us about your experince at the Affiliate Grand Slam in Tallinn?
Lee: An excellent new take on the traditional affiliate conference, the second one coming up in Bucharest is only going to build on the first one. To have a small number of operators and a larger number of key affiliates improves the opportunity to take time over business discussions and keeps networking at maximum value.
GAV: What do you think the chances are for Eastern Europe to become a potential gaming hotspot in the future? Where do you think the region must improve upon?
Lee: If you look at places like Malta and Gibraltar a key ingredient for success in a gaming hot spot is the support of a local regulatory body. Eastern European destinations have masses of opportunity for all areas of the industry both as operating spaces and markets but, the regulatory infrastructure needs work.
GAV: Where would you like to travel in Eastern Europe?
Lee: I’d really love to spend some time in Russia and Kiev is on my hit list too. I spent a lot of time in Romania last year and it’s my favourite country in the world right now. I wintered in Transylvania which was amazing and Bucharest is an incredible city. Will be heading back there this year for the next AGS event and probably again in winter for some much needed down time.
GAV: Where you wouldn’t want to travel in Eastern Europe?
Lee: Never really been attracted to Bulgaria, though, I’d be happy for someone to change my mind.
GAV: How about a favorite celebrity, or a mentor do you have one?
Lee: I’ve had several good business mentors including our current founders. Celebrity wise I’d have to admit a liking for Kate Beckinsale and Robert Downey Jr is a modern icon.
GAV: Tell us your opinion about the Gambling Affiliate Voice?
Lee: It’s incredibly important for affiliates to have a voice in the industry and the GAV gives us exactly that! I think for new/smaller affiliates which are just starting out or attempting to grow resources like this cannot be underestimated.
GAV: Thank you for the interview Lee, enjoy the summer and perhaps we’ll meet at AGS Bucharest!
If you would like to suggest subjects for future affiliate interviews, be sure to send your suggestions to: email@example.com
AffiliateINSIDER hosts first-of-its-kind Business Coaching Workshop at AIBootcamp with George Swift , Bigger Brighter Bolder
Celebrated UK entrepreneur business coach George Swift will host an exclusive ‘Elevate and Thrive’ Affiliate Business Coaching Workshop at March’s AffiliateINSIDER Bootcamp, the first time such an initiative has ever been offered at an igaming affiliate event.
Held at Under the Bridge, a unique and stylish venue positioned underneath Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge Stadium, the two-day event on 21-22 March has been designed to help igaming affiliates growth hack and gain expert digital knowledge for driving traffic to their sites.
Swift, who runs business coaching group Bigger, Brighter, Bolder (BBB), will ensure affiliate entrepreneurs focus on their individual journey in obtaining business success and have the right business mindset to drive revenue growth.
The workshop is built around the ‘hero’s journey’ – a powerful metaphor for the journey to business success. While learning tools and tactics is essential, equally important for success is having the right business mindset.
Business coaches can be an invaluable resource when it comes to bolstering your business model, with the International Coach Federation suggesting they can increase
profit margins by an average of 46%. Further research has demonstrated a 570% return on initial investment in coaching.
This coaching session is not only unique to the AffiliateINSIDER Bootcamp conference, it is the first time an affiliate event will host a dedicated business coaching workshop.
Curated by AI founder and CEO Lee-Ann Johnstone, the event boasts a full two-day agenda of digital expert speakers, an experts mentor panel and several opportunities to make new introductions, giving attendees the chance to grow their business network.
“We are delighted to be hosting the first curated affiliate business coaching workshop for iGaming affiliates at Bootcamp this year. Affiliates who are looking to growth hack their business will certainly get the digital insights they need to get ahead of the curve and we’ll help them build a stronger entrepreneurial mindset to support their business success,” Johnstone explained.
Swift added: “I believe entrepreneurism is the greatest vocation on earth and offers an unprecedented opportunity to those that step up to its calling. However, that opportunity comes at a price: it’s hard work, challenging and can be very lonely.
“Whilst every journey is unique, there are commonalities we all share and those are what I will be sharing on the day. I’m really excited to be part of the AffiliateINSIDER Bootcamp and I’m looking forward to sharing the Entrepreneurial Journey of Success with all present.”
LeoVegas really is making dreams come true this Christmas
LeoVegas is giving away 5 nights under the Northern Lights!
It’s that festive time of year when our customers begin to dream of log fires, Christmas trees and dashing through the snow on a reindeer-drawn sleigh with mince pie crumbs in their laps. Well, good tidings are here as LeoVegas would like to spread the festive cheer by making two of these lucky customers’ dreams come true this New Year!
We will send two players and their plus ones to the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort in Lapland on a once in a lifetime trip where they’ll sleep under the stars in glass roofed igloos – and may even see the Northern Lights flickering above while tucked up cosy and warm in a comfy bed as the snow falls around them.
This incredible trip also includes six activities which winners can choose themselves. These include a 4-hour husky safari, Aurora hunting on a horse drawn sleigh, visiting reindeer on a snowmobile or learning how to master Nordic skiing.
To be in with a chance of winning, new customers just need to deposit and wager 50 in the Live Casino or Casino (from 10/12/18 to 01/01/19) on any game to get one ticket into the raffle. The winners will then be drawn randomly on 2nd January.
A geo-targeted landing page promoting the campaign will be available by end of this week. Please contact your account manager or AffiliateTeam@leovegas.com for the media ID or if you have any queries. This campaign will be live in all markets except Italy from 10th December.
Leo really is making dreams come true this Christmas at LeoVegas!
The LeoVegas Affiliate Team
Affiliate Interviews: Steven Hubbard, of SweGaming and BettingLounge
This is our second interview with Swegaming. We are checking how they are doing right now.
GAV: Hi Steven, first off we’ve been talking with you before, around 2 years ago to be exact, and first wanted an update on what Swegaming and BettingLounge have been up to since then.
The last two years have been hectic for Swegaming as a company, and since I joined this year we’ve been ramping up our efforts towards the UK market with our site BettingLounge.
We’ve launched a completely new look and feel to the site while adding new sections including our popular betting tips. We have also added new functionality and content to help our visitors make the right decision when choosing which betting sites to use.
GAV: Could you tell us some quick facts about you?
Name: Steven Hubbard
Living in: Gothenburg
Favourite Food: Pizza
Must read book: Running: The Autobiography
Best dart player: Phil Taylor
GAV: Tell us more about yourself, we want to know exactly who Steven is, the product owner of Bettinglounge. How was it to move to a new country? How is it to work at a big affiliate company as Swegaming?
Well, I grew up in a small town in Norfolk, England. I spent most of my working life as a Lifeguard and Swimming teacher but decided to go travelling for a change.
There I met my Swedish girlfriend and moved to Gothenburg, where I met Andreas and David (founders of SweGaming AB). Moving to Sweden was a lot harder than the travelling I had done, but I had great support from my girlfriend and her family.
Working at SweGaming has been a wonderful opportunity to learn and develop new skills. They have a lot of valuable experience in the Swedish market and exciting ideas for the UK.
GAV: What would you say is the biggest competitive advantages for Bettinglounge? What makes Bettinglounge stand out from the crowd?
We are looking to change the affiliate industry by offering an honest, transparent and personal product. All while promoting safe and responsible gambling.
We have some really exciting long-term projects that I think will add a lot of value to BettingLounge, while continuing with our personal touch instead of hiding behind a brand name.
GAV: What is the biggest challenge for you as a product owner?
The need for constant innovation is the biggest challenge facing us. There are a massive number of affiliates in the UK, and we have to offer something special to stand out.
GAV: We have done some reading at your site and found out some really interesting betting tips, how can you know so much!?
Well, I am in no way a betting tipster or expert. But, I have been following sports, mainly football and darts for most of my life. Of course, you learn a lot from that over the years.
But, the most valuable information is gained by a bit of research. All of our tips are well researched with key stats and facts for the match. It is not a foolproof way of betting, but it will help in your decision making.
See our betting tips as a guide, or if you agree, of course, you are welcome to back them. But, remember to do so in a fun and responsible way.
GAV: Steven, who is your favourite model? Is it Zlatan or David Beckham?
Ah, that’s a tough one. Of course, David Beckham is my favourite model. I mean his boxers are not great, but what a man he is!
GAV: What betting tip has been your best in ROI?
The best betting tip so far has been a 12/1 win treble with Betway. Three away wins, Lincoln City, Leicester and Doncaster.
Although, Doncaster finished 3-2 and we had a nervy 7+ minutes of extra time that was not appreciated.
GAV: What is the best with TheGamblingAffiliateVoice?
The best thing is definitely to find new gaming conferences and read comprehensive articles . You are doing a great job writing about the conference Sigma on Malta. More affiliates and operators should definitely go to Sigma which is the best conference in my opinion.
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