What’s next for your business?

What’s next for your business?

This session "What’s next for your business: Thinking innovatively about the growth and management of an affiliate business" was filmed at the London Affiliate Conference 2017. 

Published 13th March 2017

On Friday 10th February, iGB Affiliate hosted the panel discussion, "What’s Next for Your Business: Thinking Innovatively about the Growth and Management of an Affiliate Business". The session included Income Access VP of Business Development & Marketing Lee-Ann Johnstone, Mad About Media founder Andrew Edwards, and Oshi Casino CEO Nick Garner. 

Due to time constraints on the day, it wasn’t possible for the panel to cover all of the audience’s questions. As a follow-up to the session, the panellists have responded in detail to these unanswered questions. You can find below the video of the session, as well as the follow-up questions and answers. 

The session covered:

  • What affiliates need to know to take their business to the next level 
  • Thinking outside the box for new opportunities and business strategies
  • Strategies for affiliates who have long and established relationships with operators and where sending new players is harder

Rather than going directly to the operators, would you work with affiliate networks to begin with?

Nick Garner (NG), Oshi Casino: Try lots of different operators to see what works. If an affiliate network is an easier path of experimentation and you can get out of it without being hit by a non-complete clause or something similar, then I would go that way.

Lee-Ann Johnstone (LAJ), Income Access: Consolidate your reporting and work with operators who have programmes in established affiliate networks. As you grow your traffic sources, start to establish direct relationships with merchants via their own direct programmes. It really boils down to time versus resources, and how you can make use of a platform of many offerings to save time and monetise your site effectively.

Andrew Edwards (AE), Mad About Bingo: Affiliate networks are an excellent way to get a good deal if you’re just getting started. Partnering up early on and working on a mixture of revenue share and CPAs will give you some money to reinvest via PPC and SEO.

What specific key performance indicators (KPIs) would you recommend for tracking?

NG: Profitability. Gross revenue is a good early indicator of the scale of your activities, but actual profit is what ultimately matters. It's very easy to get delusional and think that turnover is the absolute precursor to success. In reality, it's a supporting KPI.

LAJ: Traffic conversion. Your overall profitability is affected by whether or not the acquisition activity you are auctioning to drive sign-ups is creating depositing customers. You may want to look at retention once you are up-and-running to ensure your operator relationships are working to keep customers at a high rate.

AE: You want to track Click-to-Registration rates and Registrations-to-First-Time Deposits. Make sure the traffic you send to operators converts to registrations and their CRM kicks in to convert them to a depositing player.

Which countries do you think are the easiest and hardest for SEO in Europe?

NG: There's a simple model you can use for evaluating the competition in any country:

  • Wealth
  • Number of internet users
  • Poor countries (low GDP per capita), plus with a lot of internet users equals moderate competition – i.e. India.
  • Rich countries (high GDP per capita), with a large number of internet users, equals high competition – such as the United States.

Formula: GDP per capita multiplied by the number of Internet users.

LAJ: Consider legal and localisation accessibilities within your affiliate business’ organisation and structure. There is no point in attacking a new market if you:

  • Don’t understand local regulations
  • Don’t have access to target customers in their local languages – don’t even try and direct translation without localisation elements as in my 20 years of working on global programmes, it has never worked effectively.
  • Make sure you understand the propensity for engagement and deposit capability (the money infrastructure), which is how easy is it for customers to get money into an operator’s wallet. This affects your conversions and penetration activity.

Once you have these three areas covered, you can consider expansion into a market that is unrelated to your own.

AE: I stuck to the UK market until recently, but our operator sites are now branching out to Sweden and Germany. The German market seems to be the easiest on review, but we only started our campaigns in March. We also target the US market with our lottery site, which, whilst difficult, seems to rank better than the UK.

Do you recommend working with a handful of operators or as many as possible?

NG: I would build relationships with as many operators as possible initially, then whittle them down to a handful of around six operators that you work well with and who convert. The trouble is, you won't know which operators to work with until you test them in the context of your website. 

LAJ: Find operators who are prominently advertising their brand in the regions you’re targeting. Work with a manageable number of big-name brands and several smaller operators who have more aggressive offers. Spread your risk by diversifying your revenue portfolio across a select group of brands who balance with your business and are keen to expand their relationship with you.

AE: You will only really make consistent money from a handful of major operators in the long run. So I would promote the major brands first. You can still make decent money from promoting 100 smaller sites, so look at getting these on a revenue share model if you think they will convert.

Let’s talk transparency and data sharing. What is the best balance to have in your affiliate business, and what do you need to insist on seeing?

NG: You want to know which operators are successful and why. There's a huge variance on what they will share with you, based on the systems they have in place. Many of them are obsessed with data privacy because it can affect their licence if there is 'data leakage'.

LAJ: The brilliant thing about sharing data collaboratively is that it helps programmes grow, and helps affiliates build relationships with operators that are symbiotic instead of one-dimensional. If I was an affiliate, I would want to see:

  • Impressions
  • Clicks
  • Sign-ups
  • Depositors
  • Deposit values
  • Wagering values (if on a revenue share deal)
  • Net Gaming Revenue (if on a revenue share model) or CPA commissions.

AE: As both an affiliate and operator, I see the pros and cons of data sharing. Having said that, there needs to be a level of trust in this industry if we are to move past the stage where programmes are shut down overnight and terms renegaded upon by operators.  You need to see what CRM the operator has planned to help convert the players you send to them.

If you have any additional questions on the points touched on by the panel, please reach out to iGB Affiliate