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Affiliate Interviews: Marina, CEO of Bonusparadise.com

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Marina interview

In this weeks affiliate success story we present to you Marina B. who is the CEO of Bonusparadise.com, the complete guide for those wanting information about online gambling. Their mission is to give you, the player, the best possible advice regarding the best casinos, greatest offers and where you can play for free.

Name: Marina B.
Age: 47
Hometown: —
Living in: Netherlands
Favorite Food: Italian
Must Read Book: Can’t tell which one is a must read. Also long ago that I took time to read a book.
Profession/Job title: CEO

 

GAV: Hi Marina! Please tell us a little bit about yourself. We want to know who the real Marina is – the main person behind Bonusparadise.com. What was the key idea of developing this great online gambling guide and forum?Mike and Marina of BonusParadise

Marina: Hi GAV. OK, so I was born and raised in Austria but it was love that actually brought me to the Netherlands where I now live with Mike – my life and business partner. It was actually through online gambling that we found each other 🙂 .
In answer to your question about the idea of developing BonusParadise.com: We knew from the beginning that we wanted to give new players good information and help them find trusted online casinos with excellent bonus offers.

 

GAV: Since there are hundreds of online gambling guides and forums out there, where do you think Bonus Paradise stands in relation to the competition at this moment?

Marina: Yes that’s true, there are some really great online gambling websites out there and it’s also true that the competition is tough. Where do we stand? Well that’s hard to say. I am not the type of person who checks out search engine rankings every day. It’s more important for us that our members and visitors are satisfied with the information we provide. I always remind myself that our site is made for real people, not for Google and co.!

For a while, we used SEO tools but I found that using them did not alter our site’s success in the long run. I have a basic understanding of SEO and I believe that it is enough for BonusParadise.com’s operations. In my opinion, it is more important to provide good content and useful information for your visitors and focus on that.

GAV: What are the strong points of Bonus Paradise, and what makes it stand out from the other websites?

Marina: Do we stand out from others? Even if that were true, it would feel kind of arrogant to admit that! I tend to focus on the fact that there are always things that can be improved, and there are always new things you need to learn about the business.
You asked about strong points. One of which I am proud of is the fact that we are a very stable site. We’ve been online for many years and we are on active on our forum every single day! Even on weekends and holidays Mike and/or myself are always checking at the forum and keeping abreast of what’s happening in the industry.

GAV: How did you start and what bumps did you have to overcome after the launch of the website?

Marina: When I was still living in Austria, I started a free forum about online gambling. I loved playing online and wanted to create a like-minded community with other players from around the world. I liked the fact we could discuss online gambling and that I could help them with good information on a free forum. After a few months I started making money from this forum.

One day we realized that we were receiving no more traffic from Google. We learned that a free hosted forum is not a good idea and you do not have sufficient access to your website. We also found that Google de-indexed all our pages from the free forum (although we never found out the reason) and so we started to build a forum at Bonusparadise.com. We had to start everything from zero, which meant that could not migrate members from the free forum and also none of the content. That was a tough lesson to learn but we believe that we only improved the second time around!

GAV: We have browsed your website and forum and found great quality content. Do you write it yourself or do you have a team of people writing for you? How many online casino reviews are there on your website?

Marina: I have several excellent contributors to our site, one of them being Renee from Quality Writing Services (qualityws.com). I also write some content myself, although because my native language is German, it’s easier for me to do so in German obviously.  There are approximately 50 casino reviews on our site, but as you know, we add fresh content on a very regular basis so that number will only grow.

bonusparadise.com

GAV: Is it hard to keep the content fresh and relevant, especially when a lot of fluff and nonsense appear on the web on a daily basis?

Marina: Yes, of course. But we do our best and we believe we’re doing a good job providing interesting and relevant information to our readers.

GAV: We are sure that you receive many messages from Affiliate Managers on a daily basis showcasing their products. You, of course, select them by the brands they work with; but what are your thoughts on how Affiliate Manager – Affiliate relationships should be built?

Marina: Honesty is very important! Like all other relationships in life, it wouldn’t work without complete honesty from Day One. I also like to maintain personal contact via Skype. There are some things you just can’t get across via email! What else? It’s very important for me to have a contact for player relations. I was told by one affiliate manager: “Sorry, I can’t help you with this player’s complaint. I am your affiliate manager and I’m not responsible for player support…“ That really upset me, especially since he couldn‘t give me another person to contact about the problem – only the standard casino support.

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

Marina: Definitely! I’ve been long enough in this industry to say with absolute certainty that online gambling will become even more popular than it already is. But don’t only take my word for it. I read recently that analysts predict that the online gambling industry will be worth $4 BILLION by 2020 – and that’s only 3 years away! There is no doubt that gamblers like what they see in online gambling. It is very convenient for players as they don’t need to travel far to visit a casino. They also aren’t limited to the opening and closing hours of the casino, and you can literally play 24/7, every day of the year and from wherever you happen to be. Also, players like the fact that they have literally hundreds of games at their fingertips – you won’t find a range that big in any land-based casino. And of course, we also can’t ignore the fact that mobile gambling is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. As technology improves and graphics and sound features get better, players are able to enjoy incredibly realistic casino experiences in the palm of their hands.

GAV: Would you change something in the online casino legislation?

Marina: Every country has its own legislation and governments are making their decisions based on what they feel is good for the people. I believe that there has to be some regulation when it comes to online gambling, as there should be for any type of industry. However, I feel that sometimes authorities aren’t in touch with what recreational gamblers are after. In their bid to protect problem gamblers (which make up a truly tiny percentage of the industry), the laws and regulations come across as being archaic. It’s kind of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The entertainment factor, as well as the millions of euros that the industry contributes to local governments is sometimes overlooked when laws are made. Anyway, we can’t forget that this is still considered a fledgling industry and the issue of regulation should be seen as a learning curve. I believe that world governments will eventually find a happy medium.

GAV: Name one change that you would want to see in the online casino affiliate ecosystem.

Marina: That would be: Legalization – Regulation – Protection… Unfortunately, we affiliates sometimes have bad experiences because of the lack of legalization, regulation and protection. For example, we’ve come across affiliate programs that change their terms retroactively, and it has been known for some programs to even go rogue …..

GAV: What advice would you offer newbies who are looking to venture into this industry?

Marina: I would say: Build a good website that contains unique and useful content. Make sure to list reputable brands. It is very important that the brands treat players well (and us affiliates too of course!)

GAV: Do you usually attend any iGaming/online casino conferences? If so, which one is your favorite and tell us why?

Marina: I’ve attended a conference in Amsterdam and my plans are definitely to attend more in the future. I’m not a great fan of traveling and as we have a young daughter at home, I’ll keep these plans on the back-burner for now. I’m sure things will change as she gets older.

GAV: What do you think the chances are for Eastern Europe on becoming a potential gaming hotpot in the future? Where do you think the region must improve upon?

Marina: I believe it will take some time still until we will find good player potential in Eastern European Countries. I would predict another decade or so but the market is very dynamic so who knows.

GAV: Alright, now here comes the fun part: do you have a favorite celebrity?

Marina: LOL! Oh… there are so many celebrities! Naah, can’t think of a favorite off the top of my head.

GAV: Name a country or region in Eastern Europe where you’d like to travel?

Marina: As said before, I don’t really have the travel bug. But maybe Hungary would be nice to visit one day.

GAV: Where would you NOT want to travel in Eastern Europe?

Marina: I can’t really think of an Eastern Europe country which I would not like to travel to. I think you can find interesting things and people everywhere.

GAV: What is your opinion about GAV (GamblingAffiliateVoice.com)?

Marina: I’m impressed with the work that you put in to build a community of fellow affiliates and to create a safe and innovative climate for us all to work in. I love the articles on your platform and I always find something interesting to read.

GAV: Thank you very much for your time Marina, we appreciate it, keep up the good work and don’t be a stranger!

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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