The UK has long been considered one of the most important online gambling jurisdictions in the world and it’s not hard to see why. It is a mature market with a large population of gambling-inclined consumers for operators and affiliates to target.
Recently, though, things have become more complex. The UK’s gambling legislation is undergoing a review that will likely bring significant changes. At the same time, competition is increasing, margins are decreasing and player expectations are higher than ever.
This means affiliates are facing more challenges than before and with other markets such as the US opening and offering huge potential, it begs the question whether the UK is still a viable market for publishers.
To be able to answer that question, it is important to understand how the market has changed and whether these new challenges can be overcome.
It could be argued that the UK market is a victim of its own success. Because it has been such fertile ground for affiliates over the years, it has seen more companies and individuals enter the fray with literally thousands of sites now live and targeting players in the country.
Because we are now at a point of market saturation, affiliate websites must stand out and deliver a superior user experience. This covers everything from the content that is written and published to the technical build and operation of the site.
A simple WordPress template website is no longer enough; bespoke is very much the way to go as it gives you the flexibility you need to build unique features, complex filtering systems and other key points of difference.
Of course, this requires investment and with some of the biggest sites backed by companies with deep pockets, smaller operations and individuals are having to be incredibly savvy with how they use the budgets at their disposal.
Compliance has also become a key consideration. While UK affiliates do not need to secure a licence to market to players in the country, their operator partners are policing their every move to ensure they do not breach regulations and risk non-compliance on their behalf.
Opportunities still exist
Despite these challenges, the UK market still offers plenty of opportunities for affiliates and that includes smaller companies and individuals running sites. The market remains buoyant and there is still room for new brands, even if things are crowded.
What’s more, there are opportunities for growth outside the standard affiliate verticals of casino, bingo and sports betting. Poker has enjoyed a boom in recent months while lottery betting and esports are on the rise, too.
Player expectations and preferences are also changing, with mobile now the dominant channel for most people when it comes to how they communicate, work, research and engage with entertainment – this is an area where affiliates still lag behind.
So, what do affiliates need to do to leverage these opportunities?
Affiliates must level up
Most affiliates still rely on SEO to drive traffic to their sites, so content remains a key factor. But it is no longer good enough to write fluffy content packed full of keywords. Today, it must be written by experts and cover topics at length and comprehensively.
Affiliates must also expand their content creation beyond the written word to videos and audio such as podcasts and recorded interviews.
Another crucial area is mobile optimisation. According to statistics cited in Finder, the average Brit spends over two hours on their smartphone each day. It is through this channel that players will engage with your site so it must be designed and developed for mobile.
Having accelerated mobile pages (AMPs) while also ensuring that web pages are clean and easy to read will help deliver the user experience players are seeking.
User experience doesn’t stop at mobile, though. It’s just as important on desktop devices. Websites should load fast and score as highly as possible across Google’s Core Web Vitals if they are to rank highly for key search terms.
Not only viable but vital
For new affiliates, breaking into the UK market is a huge undertaking but with the right focus on development, design, user experience and content, success can be achieved.
The effort required is undoubtedly greater than in some new and emerging markets, but the reward for getting it right in the UK is so much bigger and this is why it will remain a key market for affiliates now and over the next five to ten years.
Sure, other markets offer potential but none quite as large as the opportunities on the table in the UK. That makes it not only viable but vital.