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Affiliate Interviews: Lena of CasinoHawks.com

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Lena from CasinoHawks

We hope that you all had a wonderful holiday season and that you’ve also managed to rest and recharge your batteries for 2017!?! In this years first affiliate success story we present you Lena of CasinoHawks.com, an expert website, which is constantly gathering the most relevant information, news, reviews of online casinos, game developers, online slot games and jackpots.

Name: Lena Sciberras
Age: 34
Hometown: Kemerovo, Russia
Living in: Sliema, Malta
Favorite Food: pepperoni pizza
Must Read Book: One Hundred Years of Solitude
Profession/Job title: Content and SEO Writer https://www.casinohawks.com/

 
GAV: Hi Lena, first of all thanks for your time and interest! Tell us and our readers a little bit about yourself. How did your career start in the industry? What was the main idea of developing this great UK focused online casino website?

LENA: I have a long background in journalism, copy-writing, editing, SEO and marketing. About 7 years ago I moved to Malta from Moscow. In Malta, the iGaming is very strong, so many expats find themselves joining this exciting industry. I did too a few years ago, and have been absolutely loving it ever since. For the last 9 months, I’ve been working on CasinoHawks.com, so it’s now nearly like a baby for me.

GAV: Since there are thousands and thousands of websites out there, and the UK market is quite ruff, where do you think Casinohawks.com stands now?

LENA: That’s very true. The UK casino affiliate market is extremely saturated, but from my perspective, there are not that many affiliate websites that combine the strong quality of writing together with the exclusive deals and offers. Casinohawks.com website is a part of Game Lounge Ltd group which has established itself as one of the strongest affiliate companies in the Nordic markets. This year Game Lounge won “Affiliate of the Year” award as a part of the first instalment of “Malta iGaming Awards”. So together as a company, we have enough know-how to build a solid and successful affiliate brand in the UK. Just give us a few more months, and we will show our full force.

GAV: How do you see the online casino industry at this moment? How about the UK market?!

LENA: As we said, the UK market is quite overloaded with affiliates of all kinds, sizes and quality levels, but we believe in high-quality content and exclusive deals with the coolest online casinos, so there is always room for us. In general, I feel like UK casino market changes in a way that players get more aware of the newer casino brands, more international casinos, that have already established themselves on, let’s say, Scandinavian markets, and now they are conquering the UK. We have a long relationship with many of these casino brands, and that’s another strength of CasinoHawks.com.

GAV: How did you start and most of all what bumps did you have to overcome in the beginning?

LENA: It’s always hard at the beginning, you have to write so much and make all those exclusive deals and offers, but you have zero return or feedback in the first few months. No results at all, which can be extremely discouraging and frustrating for many other affiliates. But we have a positive experience from the other markets and great support system from the Game Lounge affiliate group, so it was possible for CasinoHawks.com to survive that first period and now things are definitely picking up and I start seeing results, which is very rewarding.

GAV: We have analyzed Casinohawks.com and found some great online casino reviews. Are you writing it by yourself or do you have a team of people writing for you? How many reviews are there on your website? How about the news section, tell us a bit more about it?

LENA: Thank you, that’s great to hear! When it comes to Casino brands and casino websites, I review them all myself, so we have a certain uniformity and a proper system of how we go through the process to establish whether a casino is worth trying or not. Right now we work with more than 25 casino brands, but next year this number will probably grow a lot.

Game reviews, casino guides, promotions and news are a bit different, and here we have a small team of dedicated writers to make sure that there is always new fresh content for our readers to discover.

CasinoHawks

GAV: Is it hard to keep the content fresh and relevant on your website, when a lot of fluffy and nonsense appear on the Internet non-stop?

LENA: It’s true to some degree, but I feel like because the industry is booming there is always something new. New games, new casinos, new promotions, cool campaigns, etc. So I never feel that there is nothing to write about on any given day. But it’s also important to sometimes take a different look at things, maybe bring some more analytical (but still fun!) articles that show things that are trending right now. One other thing that we started lately is the exclusive video content. On CasinoHawks.com we now have a whole section of videos and interviews, all produced in-house, where we take our readers behind the scenes of the different casinos or game developers and show the people who run all those casinos and how. We feel that it’s unique content, it’s fun to watch, but it also does a fantastic job at building trust. It creates a more human approach and shows the real people, casino management that players can relate to.

 
GAV: We are pretty sure that you receive messages from Affiliate Managers on a daily basis showcasing their best products. What are your thoughts on how a real Affiliate Manager-Affiliate relationship should be built?

LENA: Yes, absolutely! There are so many casinos, and you cannot work with all of them, even if you wanted to. Naturally, we concentrate on promoting casino brands that give us a fair commission and the above average size bonuses for our readers and players, so everyone is a winner. On the other hand, it also comes down to building an actual relationship, feeling comfortable with the casino affiliate manager. There has to be some genuine personal connection, so it’s easy to work together and overcome any issues that might occur. We are lucky that we are based in Malta, where many casino brands have their headquarters as well. So we can physically meet in real life and actually get to know each other. I feel that is something that helps a lot.

GAV: How do you see the future of the online casino industry? For instance, will it become a truly global phenomenon?

LENA: It’s hard to say, but we see some markets opening up. For example, the Asian markets are becoming more viable.

GAV: Tell us one change that you want to see in the online casino affiliate ecosystem?!

LENA: To be honest, it’s fine as it is. Time will show which casinos and which affiliates are the strongest, most professional, consistent and have something unique to offer and those will thrive no matter what.

GAV: Do you have any advise you would like to offer for the newbies who are looking to venture into this great industry!?

LENA: For the affiliates – consistency, creativity, patience. For the new casinos, it’s definitely a different angle, something unique and exclusive to offer when it comes to design, overall theme and the loyalty program. Any new online casino that opens today has to stand out from the crowd to be noticed and remembered.
GAV: Do you attend any iGaming/online casino conferences? If so, which one is your favorite and what is your most fun experience?

LENA: The last one was SiGMA 2016 in Malta in November, and it certainly was a lot of fun, especially because of the video-interview project that CasinoHawks / Game Lounge had going on. Our whole team really enjoyed bringing this new venture to life. And thanks to our casino partners, who all happily went along, it turned out to be a great adventure.

GAV: What do you think the chances are for Eastern Europe to become a potential gaming hotspot in the near future? Where do you think the region must still improve upon?

LENA: Some countries in Eastern Europe are embracing casino, gaming, IT and other parts of the whole process, but some others, as we know, only make it more complicated. So I don’t think we can talk about the Eastern Europe as a whole, only about particular countries with their specific views, legislation’s and attitude towards iGaming. In many countries, gaming is still a grey area, but the potential is certainly there. We just have to remember that in this region too much depends on the political decisions and not the iGaming industry efforts as such.

GAV: Where would you like to travel in Eastern Europe? Where you wouldn’t want to travel in Eastern Europe?

LENA: Being native Russian myself, I have visited quite a few countries there, and for me, it’s easier to feel more comfortable in these places. But I know many Europeans who feel a bit uneasy with the thought of it, and it’s understandable. If we are talking more about casual tourism and not business, I would love to visit Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic soon. I have a lot of friends there; and they are all beautiful places with great history, culture, architecture and lots of yummy food.

GAV: Tell us your opinion about the Gambling Affiliate Voice?

LENA: You guys are doing a great job. Your website is one of those, that I regularly visit, because you truly help to keep up with the latest news, trends and just interesting stories that all of us, affiliates, can relate to. Just keep it up!

GAV: Thanks for your time and kind words Lena, we hope that 2017 will be a great year for CasinoHawks / Game Lounge! 

 

If you have any questions or subjects for future interviews, be sure to send your suggestions to: george@gamblingaffiliatevoice.com.

Affiliate Success

Exclusive Q&A with Jeton Kodia Co-Founder at Oddspedia

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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.

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Affiliate Announcements

Bojoko crowned Casino Affiliate of the Year 2020

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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.”

 

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Affiliate Announcements

Karhu launches Professional Gambling Affiliates Association

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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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