ith the Super Show a global event these days, can you tell us which markets operators and affiliates are focusing on besides Europe?
The market that came up multiple times in my conversations in Amsterdam was Brazil. With regulation progressing this year and the country’s population of 200 million, everyone wants to be ready when the market finally goes live, hopefully in 2016.
Both operators and affiliates are keeping a very close eye on what’s going on in Brazil. Sports-betting brands among others are looking to expand into that market. I also talked to some big affiliates, guys who’ve been in the industry a long time, who told me they’re developing Portuguese-language sites for their Brazilian traffic.
The other market on everyone’s lips is Africa, and countries like Nigeria and Kenya in particular. Basically, with rising competition in the European market, you have operators and both new and established affiliates looking to diversify into these two emerging markets.
“There’s still a lot of space for small and mid-tier affiliates to find their niche”
From your conversations in Amsterdam, tell us about the evolution of operators’ brands and products.
At a product level, operators are really trying to diversify their brands and take a cross-vertical approach to maximize their revenue in the competitive European market. Brands with online sports-betting or poker as their primary product are increasingly focusing on promoting secondary products like casino.
Then you have newer products like eSports betting. Online sportsbooks are looking to integrate it more fluidly and prominently into their offering, as opposed to it being a simple add-on.
The affiliate marketing channel is a major focus of the Super Show. What specific trends did you see there?
Market consolidation continues to be a major trend among affiliates. A number of super affiliates have grown into major online businesses and media companies, and lately they have been acquiring more and more affiliates, both large and small. There’s definitely an industry shift from the affiliate as an individual webmaster to an integrated business with many employees.
Even amidst this consolidation, there’s still a lot of space for small and mid-tier affiliates to find their niche. With the larger affiliate businesses focusing more on media buying, smaller affiliates can continue to grow by adopting the partnership model of traditional affiliate marketing.
Beyond the affiliate channel, how is iGaming acquisition evolving more broadly based on your conversations in Amsterdam?
What was interesting to me is that you’re seeing more and more of the smaller brands that traditionally focused their acquisition on affiliates realizing that they need to do more than this – they need to focus on other channels as well. So you’re seeing that media buys and having an effective social media presence is becoming a lot more important to these small and mid-tier brands.
As traffic gets more expensive, especially in the European market, brands need to be using all digital marketing channels and branding themselves properly, so that players understand what makes them unique. Interestingly, affiliates are driving operators to diversify their digital marketing strategies. I spoke to a couple of affiliates in Amsterdam who told me that if a brand isn’t doing much outside of affiliate marketing, they’d be much less interested in partnering with them.
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