The affiliate industry is a crucial part of gambling and just like traditional gambling verticals, it has gone through transformative changes. Then, more so than ever before, affiliates are subject to the same regulatory scrutiny as the brands they represent. Because of this monetization needs to be predicated on practices that favor the consumer and follow the industry’s playbook. To this end, Routy leverages powerful data and algorithms to ensure the success of affiliate brands.
To understand better how affiliates work and what makes them successful, we speak with Routy founder Haim Bell who believes that it all boils down to contextualizing big data and using the right tools to succeed as an affiliate business. Find out more in our conversation with Bell:
Q: What are the main challenges the gaming affiliate industry faces when it comes to monetization?
A: To monetize, affiliates need to be able to access as much data as possible relating to their traffic and the conversions they generate. But this is difficult for affiliates targeting the gaming industry as, for a number of reasons, operators did not embrace the affiliate network model and each operator has its own affiliate program. For affiliates, this means working with multiple programs running on various platforms that provide different ways of tracking and reporting. In reality, it is almost impossible for affiliates to access the data they need and see accurate, real-time information relating to the conversions they are generating.
Q: Is there such a thing as bad affiliates and are they necessary for the good ones to stand out?
A: Affiliate programs kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince. This often means spending a fortune on recruiting affiliates but, in most cases, operators do not carry out the necessary due diligence to understand whether a particular partner will actually deliver quality traffic and players that are primed and ready to convert or not. It’s not that these affiliates are bad, it can just be a case that the operator’s brand does not strike a chord with their players and so there are very few clicks and FTDs.
Of course, there are plenty of bad affiliates out there and operators need to be mindful of these. One way they can do this is by sending account managers to conferences to agree to fixed or revenue share agreements with sub-affiliate networks. This is a good way of ensuring the quality of affiliate partners coming through is of the highest standard and to help mitigate the risk of them partnering with bad affiliates.
Q: Do gaming affiliates use tracking software to boost results?
A: That depends on the marketing channel the affiliate uses. Paid traffic affiliates are considered more advanced performance marketers. They deliver top-quality traffic and expect to get paid “in cash”. They constantly monitor their margins to make sure the campaign is profitable and, of course, this requires tracking software. On the other hand, SEO affiliates are more like marathon runners. They spend a fortune building their sites and assets hoping that they will rank highly on the search engine results pages – this can take months if not years to achieve. Unfortunately, only a few SEO affiliates are using tracking software even though they all should be.
Q: Why should SEO affiliates be using tracking software?
A: Unlike PPC sites, SEO sites contain hundreds if not thousands of content pages. While affiliates put most of their efforts and resources into a small number of these pages, Google may rank a long tail keyword from different pages that can still deliver valuable traffic. If the affiliate uses tracking software, they will be able to analyze traffic sent from a page to a casino and assess whether that traffic is converting or not. A small change in the listing or CTA can instantly affect the conversion rate for the better.
Q: Can decisions based on data in the affiliate industry lead to better revenues?
A: Absolutely. Some players are looking for live casinos, while others look for free spins. Affiliates need to match players to the most suitable casino based on their individual needs, and they need to keep track of this information. Performance marketers should make decisions based on data and not on guesswork. This will not only help them to monetize, but it will significantly improve the experience offered to players who will be able to find exactly what they are looking for. If affiliate traffic is not generating money, it means players are not finding what they are looking for.
Q: Is being a good marketer enough to be a successful performance marketer?
A: The simple answer is no. As an affiliate, you need to find the balance between building trust among your target audience and generating revenues and profit. Players are increasingly savvy and understand the role affiliates play in the wider ecosystem. Ultimately, they want affiliates to help them find casinos and sportsbooks that meet their own unique preferences and needs, so no longer can affiliates simply list casinos and expect players to scroll through them until they find the one they like best. The affiliates that are willing to do the heavy lifting and treat each player as an individual are ultimately the best performance marketers.
Q: How well does the gaming affiliate industry do compared to other performance marketing verticals?
A: It’s no secret that the gaming industry is a highly competitive market compared to other verticals. It is nearly impossible to track new casinos, licenses, regulations, payment methods, and other conversion factors and that is what makes it so challenging for new affiliates entering the market. Of course, there are technologies available to affiliates of all sizes that can assist with this.