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Affiliate Interviews: Nina Sparv of Nya-casinon.org (Epicorns)

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Nina Sparv

Name: Nina Sparv
Age: 29
Hometown: Vasa (Finland)
Living in: Andorra
Favorite Food: Seafood, I guess I´m not allowed to answer wine here, am I?
Profession/Job title: CMO & Co-founder at Epicorns

GAV: Hello Nina, first of all tell us and our readers as well a little bit about yourself, we want to know who Nina really is? How did your career start in the industry? Since when are you active at Nya Casinon?

NS: I`m born in Vasa, a small city in the west coast of Finland. It´s a two-language city, so I actually speak Swedish with my family instead of Finnish. An interesting fact that many people might not know about Finland. I kind of ended up in the industry pretty randomly, I was tired of Finland and I was searching for some new adventures. In the same moment, my previous boss in Finland asked me if I would be interested into moving to Cyprus. He had a friend that was working as a CEO for a gambling company that needed a copywriter for both Swedish and Finnish content so he thought I might fit, since I also happen to love playing slots. I had no experience in the industry, but I liked it a lot from the very beginning. After working as a copywriter / content manager for one year, I got promoted to Business Manager, where after I was responsible for the business development of 3 separate casino brands in several different markets. The company was fairly small, so it was great that they gave everyone so much responsibility, since I learned a lot during the 1,5 years as a Business Manager. Without that experience, I wouldn’t probably be where I am today. Many people say you shouldn´t mix work and personal life, I couldn´t quite live up to that, since that´s exactly what happened in Cyprus, I met my soul partner Jaume at work. We moved together and after a while we got tired of Cyprus and moved to Andorra to set up our own affiliate company and online marketing company. It sounds easy and fast, but there was a lot of sweat, tears and endless amount of work before the company first of all, was setup, and second of all, before the sites actually started generating money.

GAV: We know that you’re also active at an international online marketing company, tell us all about it?

NS: Epicorns (our company) was first setup as an online marketing and consultancy company to be able to generate income, that we later could use on investing in our affiliate sites. We have been doing a lot of consultancy and online marketing services during the last year to generate income, such as SEO, web development and content writing. Now that our affiliate sites have started to generate money, we don´t focus much on promoting our online marketing or consultancy services, but it´s always good to have them as a backup plan.

GAV: Since there are thousands of websites and portals in this niche out there, where do you think nya-casinon.org stands now and what is that plus that the other portals don’t have?

NS: First of all, the Swedish market is very competitive, and it´s difficult to compete against all the giant affiliate companies nowadays. That´s also why we´ve decided to focus on a small niche within the market, which is new casinos, where we should be able to reach some of the top positions in Google with the great domain that we have. It´s still a very new website, and it will probably take some time for it to jump higher in the rankings, but we´re working hard with the content and the SEO constantly.

GAV: Next to the swedish market which market do you target?

NS: With nya-casinon.org we naturally only target the Swedish market, but we have in total around 150 websites targeting a lot of different markets. Currently we´re focusing mainly in the Finnish, Swedish and Spanish markets, but we also have websites in Norwegian, German, English, Portuguese, Italian and French.

GAV: How do you see the online casino market/industry at this moment?

NS: I don´t think it´s needed to say, but it´s a very competitive industry, although it´s still a fairly new industry. Every time it´s getting more difficult and it´s taking way longer time to be able to reach high rankings for the websites. There´s new affiliates sites and casinos launched every month, so you must keep up with the speed if you want to be in the game. Before you could basically rank a website with few pages and some blogposts, which nowadays is barely impossible.

GAV: Is it hard for a woman in this industry, which are the advantages and disadvantages?

NS: I don´t see it hard as a woman to be in this industry, we´re obviously not the majority, but there´s a lot of professional women within the Igaming industry. I wouldn’t say being as a woman is any different from being as a man in the industry, neither do I have any advantages or disadvantages to mention.

GAV: In your opinion what are the strong points of nya-casinon.org and what makes it stand out from the other niche websites?

NS: Since I write most of the content myself, I would say unique content and up to date blogposts for the users about the latest promotions and news.

 

nya-casinon

 

GAV: We have browsed your website and found some great quality content. Are you writing it by yourself or do you have a team of people writing for you?

NS: I try to write as much as I can myself, but since we have already a lot of websites in both Swedish and Finnish, it´s difficult to keep up with everything. Last year I was writing for all the websites, but now there´s too much work in other parts of the websites to be done. The blogposts and news I always write myself, but for the rest of the new content I have 3 freelance content writers helping me out, one in Sweden and two in Finland.

GAV: How about the online marketing and SEO of your website, how many team members do you have, let us in on a new trend that you guys are following?

NS: In the marketing and SEO, we´re in total 3 people, and we try to divide the workload by markets or countries, where I usually work with the Swedish and Finnish markets. I would lie If I say that we have some awesome new trend that we´re following, it would sound cool though. Our main target right now is to keep on doing what we´re doing, and keep growing the sites with great content and good links.

GAV: How do you manage to keep all the website fresh and relevant, when a lot of fluffy and nonsense appear on the Internet non-stop?

NS: Since I write most of the blogposts and news myself, it´s not that difficult. I check the news within the industry daily and scrolling through all the available promotions and offers few times a week to be able to write about interesting topics for the users.

GAV: We know for 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. What are your thoughts on how a real Affiliate Manager-Affiliate relationship should be built, and how not?!

NS: Nowadays it depends a lot, since there´s these huge affiliate companies but also small startups like us, so of course the relationship with the affiliate managers is not the same for both. I prefer to work with affiliate managers that are genuinely interested in our business and in us, not just interested in how many players we can bring in one month. We have a lot of affiliate managers that have helped us, and have been interested in us, from the beginning, although we weren’t able to bring much players. These are the relationships that later have turned into friendships, which I think is a beautiful part of the business.

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

NS: After visiting Las Vegas this month, I think that the gambling industry will for sure always exist. It provides a bit of excitement to the everyday life for a lot of people. Gambling is already very popular in many places all around the world, so I´m sure it will at some point become a truly global phenomenon. About the online casino business, I think it will become more and more regulated for each year in the countries, but that it will surely always exist.

GAV: How about the swedish market, and the Nordic market, it has seen a huge growth?

NS: Gambling, Poker and Betting is something that have been advertised in the Nordics already for years, so I would say that the Nordics (Finnish people specially) are gamblers by nature. You can´t even step into a food shop without seeing slots and huge lottery jackpots. The “Boom” of the Nordic markets happened already some years back, but there´s constantly entering more and more players due to new younger generations and new innovative marketing campaigns.

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

NS: Trust. In countries like Malta, UK and Sweden for example, the casino industry is a normal everyday business. But in many other countries the casino industry is even illegal, although betting and sports is very popular for instance. This is one of the reasons this business is still seen as a bit “dirty” and “not reliable”, although the people like me for example, are doing normal online marketing stuff, just like any other person working in an online focused business.

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

NS: Patience. It will take time, a lot of work and knowledge before you´re able to make a living out of this business on your own.

GAV: How about iGaming or affiliate conferences, do you attend any of them? If so, which one is your favorite and what is your most fun experience? Did you attend the Nordic Affiliate Conference?

NS: I love going to the conferences, I think it´s because I´ve never actually lived in a place where the business is based and where there is a lot of people from the business to talk with, on every day basis, like in Malta for example. The conferences are the only time I have a chance to catch up with friends and colleagues within the business. I would say my favorite conference is the iGB, Berlin Affiliate Conference that I´ve attended a couple of times. This year we haven´t had time to join any conference yet, unfortunately neither the Nordic Affiliate Conference. But we´re heading in September to the Affiliate Grand Slam in Bucharest and in November to SIGMA in Malta.

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 improve upon?

NS: I´m pretty sure it will become a gaming hotspot, there´s a lot of potential traffic, but it´s still not very popular.

GAV: Where would you like to travel in Eastern Europe, any favorite country or region?

NS: Oh that´s a difficult question, there´s a lot of cool and beautiful places in Eastern Europe. I would like to travel to Romania and Czech Republic since I haven´t been there before. Now we will visit Bucharest in September since we´re attending the Affiliate Grand Slam conference. If I must pick a favorite country I would pick Poland, although I like Estonia a lot as well.

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

NS: Travelling and exploring new places is awesome, so it would be wrong if I said I didn´t want to travel to some specific place.

GAV: How about a favorite celebrity or a mentor, do you have one?

NS: I have a lot of favorite celebrities, mostly YouTube stars, especially Pewdiepie and a famous Spanish youtuber: AuronPlay. I also like the Spanish president Rajoy, he´s just too funny with his comments that doesn’t make much sense most of the times.

I also have to mention Jaume (my better half) here, since he has been a very big influencer and mentor in my life since the first day we met.

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

NS: It´s a good and important iGaming magazine, since I like to keep up to date what´s happening within the business I try to check the website few times a week. There´s a great variety of different news and updates which I usually find very interesting and worth reading.

GAV: Nina, thank you for the interview, if you have any news to share just let us know! We wish you guys all the best!

 

If you would like to suggest subjects for future affiliate interviews, send your suggestions to: george@gamblingaffiliatevoice.com

 

 

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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