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Affiliate Interviews: Phil of ExclusiveBonus.co.uk and FootballMatchPreviews.com

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Phil

We continue the Affiliate Interviews series, with another gambling affiliate rock star sharing his own story about his journey into this great industry. Today we catch up with Phil, founder of ExclusiveBonus.co.uk and FootballmatchPreviews.com.

 

GAV: Hi Phil, first of all thanks for your time and interest! Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did your career start in the industry? What was the main idea of developing this two great sites?

PHIL: Hi GAV. I’ve been in the affiliate gambling industry almost 10 years running a variety of sites. I started in the business doing some admin work for another gambling affiliate and decided to setup my own business with the aim of promoting online casinos and sportsbooks. I decided to develop Exclusive Bonus as a way of listing the best bonus, free bets and other promotions available. With Football Match Previews the aim is to provide good analysis of European football and free betting tips.

exclusivebonus.co.uk

GAV: Since there are thousands and thousands of websites out there, and the market is quite ruff at this moment, where do you think exclusivebonus.co.uk and footballmatchpreviews.com stands now?

PHIL: It is difficult as you see sites topping the search engines that aren’t really anything more than glorified adverts. I’m really trying to do something a bit more independent and catered for gamblers. For instance with Exclusive Bonus I’m interested in exploring hidden offers and more obscure promotions. I like to list promos that are good for players, rather than just shamelessly promoting a brand who pays the most.

With Football Match Previews the commercial side is quite small and the user gets a lot of free quality football analysis without being over pressured with advertising.

GAV: How do you see the online casino industry at this moment? What about the football betting industry?

PHIL: In the UK sports betting has exploded which is what I’m more interested in. I started out in online casinos and at the time sports players were fairly worthless compared with casino players. For me at the moment my income is heavily geared towards sports. I find sports more interesting to write about. I think some online casino offers can be interesting, but I find welcome bonuses with impossible turn requirements a bit outdated and unfair on players.

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

PHIL: I was quite lucky when I was younger. I just handed my notice in at my job in a bank. Met a friend in a bar, got some admin work on a gambling site, started my own gambling site and in a year was making about four times what I made in a year.

The first year seems quite easy looking back. I think things have progressively got more difficult and competitive. So while I’m far more experienced, its not easy these days and much tougher to acquire players. The bumps you have to overcome are kind of inevitable. Main issues are really with the hard time gambling sites are given by search engines, PPC and social media. Also affiliate programs changing your deals is difficult. Generally I’m a big believer in perseverance. I have had multiple things go wrong, but enough goes right to balance that out.

GAV: We have closely analyzed Exclusivebonus.co.uk and Footballmatchpreviews.com!
On ExclusiveBonus.co.uk we 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 blog section, tell us a bit more about it?

PHIL: Sometimes I write myself, but generally I’ll outsource to a team of writers I have. I prefer the way I write as I know the industry well, but practically I don’t have the time to write as much as I would like. The blog is really where I list any offers that stand out. I find its difficult to know what each gambling firm is giving as promotions, so its nice to delve in and find the more unusual offers.

GAV: How about Football Match Previews, do you handle the site alone, let us know a bit more?!

PHIL: I have a writer who helps with the previews. I also have someone who helps with the tips. With this site I’m interested in something that is manageable to the user. We generally give two previews a week. Some of the main sites will preview every game and give hundreds of tips. Due to this in my opinion most free tips on these sites are pretty worthless. Its really a vehicle to promote bookmakers, which I’m sure works well, but I’m interested in having a small base of customers who appreciate the content you give for free and the advertising being secondary.

footballmatchpreviews.com

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

PHIL: It can be hard as once you’ve written about a casino bonus it can get repetitive or listing yet another free bet. Fortunately a lot of gambling sites have got much more interesting in recent years with their promotions so this helps keep things fresh as every bookmaker is coming up with new and interesting things that you can write about.

GAV: We’re convinced 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?!?

PHIL: There is issues on both sides. Some affiliate managers can be hard to deal with or a little too pushy, but they are also under a lot of pressure to meet their targets and drive traffic. Generally I favour affiliate managers who have a long term outlook, rather than just what happens this month. A lot of problems with affiliate programs are with the terms, which are decisions usually made by management. I think changes terms and conditions does a lot of damage to a programs reputation.

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

PHIL: I imagine the US market will open up, which will make things more interesting with online casinos. Football is already huge, but you do have issues as a lot of bookmakers have restrictions on a lot of countries. If regulation was worked out better it improves things for affiliates as its presently difficult operating websites with a global reach, but restrictions on which countries that can actually fund your websites.

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

PHIL: Affiliate programs need to think of the long term, some affiliates could be working for 50 years in this industry. Some protection for affiliates in the form of contracts would be better.

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

PHIL: I think its tough, but I’ve seen new guys do things that explode that I thought would never work. There is always a way of doing things better. I’m not the smartest on social media, but some newer affiliates absolutely kill it. I think the best advise is just to keep going. Don’t expect to make money straight away, but with a good idea and a lot of work there is no reason why you can’t compete and make a living.

GAV: Do you attend any iGaming, sportsbetting/online casino conferences? If so, which one is your favorite and what is your most fun experience?

PHIL: Sometimes I do, just because its nice to meet affiliate managers face to face. I really enjoyed the Berlin Affiliate Conference, also London Affiliate Conference is always good.

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?

PHIL: Its not something I have a great deal of knowledge about. I don’t see why not, mostly it will be down to the countries involved regulation. If the regulation is fair to the country and the gambling firms everyone should do well.

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

PHIL: Prague, as my grandfather was born there. My wife speaks Russian also, so Moscow or St. Petersburg would be cool. I probably wouldn’t want to go anywhere too remote, I like my wifi too much.

GAV: Do you have a favourite football player…?

PHIL: Eric Cantona.

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

PHIL: I think it’s a great site and I really like the ethos of giving affiliates a voice in a industry in which often the little guys aren’t really heard or giving a platform.

GAV: Thanks for your time and appreciation Phil. We wish you all the best and let us know if you have some news to share!

 

If you would like to suggest subjects for future interviews, make 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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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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