It’s hard to believe that 25 years have already passed since I embarked on my journey in the Digital World, with a primary focus on Affiliate Marketing.
It feels like just yesterday when I graduated in Marketing and began my job search. Eventually, I found my first entry into the Gaming industry, marking the beginning of my encounters with people who were just starting to explore online gambling from the comfort of their homes.
In 1999, fate introduced me to a charming UK lady who hired me as a Marketing Assistant for a gaming project. This project aimed to create an affiliate program inspired by Amazon’s concept, and I was fortunate to be part of the team that brought one of the first iGaming affiliate programs to life.
Over these 25 years, I’ve had the privilege of meeting countless people from all corners of the world. I want to take a moment to thank each and every one of you for being an integral part of my life’s journey. You’ve become more than just affiliates; you’ve become like family—mothers, fathers, and even grandparents—embarking on the affiliate journey as either a career or a part-time pursuit.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many of you in person at various conferences and events, reaffirming my belief that affiliate marketing is all about building relationships through open communication and trust.
Once, someone asked me what life as an affiliate manager was like, and when I described it, they remarked that it sounded like a lot of fun. That’s precisely how it has been: 25 years filled with enjoyment and the privilege of meeting people from diverse cultures and backgrounds.
Affiliate Marketing has not only helped me achieve some of my personal goals but has also allowed me to be present at home while my son is growing up.
To commemorate this milestone, I will be launching a new website with various offerings, including outsourced affiliate management services. Most notably, I will be offering 30 minutes of free consultancy to affiliate managers who have questions or doubts about their current affiliate marketing projects. Stay tuned for the official date.
I won’t pretend that these 25 years have been a continuous success because that wouldn’t be honest. There have been challenges along the way, but nothing has proven too difficult to overcome. I want to express my sincere thanks to all my clients who have also played a significant role in my life and who have given me the opportunity to provide my services to their affiliate programs.
Affiliate Marketing has also opened doors to new business opportunities, allowing me to offer services such as translation services to help affiliates enter new markets and content writing to support their SEO needs, among other offerings. I want to extend my gratitude to those affiliates whose needs have paved the way for my business to diversify and provide these additional services alongside Affiliate Management.
When asked about the GEOs I focus on, I often respond with “the whole world.” These 25 years have allowed me to connect with affiliates from every corner of the globe, including individuals from my hometown, Peru. This diversity has been the beauty of working in Affiliate Marketing, where we truly embrace the worldwide web.
Thank you for these remarkable 25 years, and I eagerly anticipate continuing to learn and elevate Affiliate Marketing with all of you.
After writing this note, it’s funny that I noticed that I’ve turned 25 years together with Google. 😄
When affiliates are interested in joining a new program, they often look for basic information that will help them make an informed decision. Unfortunately, many iGaming brands, whether regulated or not, are not providing the necessary information that affiliates seek. This lack of transparency can be concerning for potential affiliates who want to know exactly what they’re getting into before promoting a program.
Here are the three basic pieces of information that affiliates want to know before joining an affiliate program:
Affiliate Commission Offerings & Calculation
Affiliates receive customized deals, which is why some programs do not show their commission offerings. While this approach may make sense for experienced affiliates, it may not be motivating for new affiliates who are visiting the affiliate program’s website to learn about the program’s details.
In addition, not many programs show the formula for calculating commissions, such as the percentage of administrative fees, license fees, software platform fees, processing fees, and other overhead expenses that are deducted to obtain the actual net profit. It’s also important to know about negative carry-over and the high roller policy, as they can affect commissions. If the affiliate program has many brands, affiliates need to know whether earnings are bundled or calculated separately, as it affects how commissions are calculated.
Affiliate Payment Methods
Another crucial piece of information that affiliates want to know before negotiating a deal is the payment method and currency used to pay them. Some programs do not offer a payment method that is suitable for the affiliate’s business. For example, there are some e-wallets that are not accessible in specific countries. This type of information is essential, as some affiliates might not be comfortable receiving their commissions in cryptocurrency.
Duration of Affiliate Commissions from Referrals
The primary message for affiliates to promote online casinos was that they will get paid as long as the player plays at the casino, a commission that is not common in other industries. Therefore, it’s crucial to inform affiliates whether they will receive commissions for a specific time or for the player’s lifetime. Some programs have an activity quota that affiliates need to reach for new customer sign-ups to continue receiving commissions from existing players. Usually, this information can be found in the program’s terms and conditions. If not, affiliates should ask their affiliate manager.
Affiliates can benefit from creating a list of questions related to commissions, payment frequency and methods before starting to send traffic, so it’s all clear for both ends. They can also negotiate other terms that are tagged to the calculation of those commissions, such as negative carryover, high roller policies, and activity quotas.
Here is a list that is still growing:
- Negative Carryover
- High Roller Policy
- Activity Quota
- Player baseline for CPA calculation
- Active Player
- Minimum Player Deposit
- Player Network Validation
- Payment Frequency
- Payment Method
- Payment Currency
- Payment Minimum
- Cookie duration
- Cookie overwritten
- Commission Formula
- Stats Updates
- Commissions Bundled
- Player Lifetime
- iGaming Brand Overhead Fees (admin fees, processing fees, licensing fees, tax fees, software platform/game provider fees)
Overall, transparency and clarity in the information provided by affiliate programs can help build trust and foster a mutually beneficial relationship between affiliates and the programs they work with. By understanding the basics and asking the right questions, affiliates can make informed decisions about which programs to join and how to negotiate their commissions.
Maximizing Your Earnings with Offline Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is a powerful tool for driving customer referrals and earning commissions, and it’s not just limited to online channels. In fact, offline marketing can be even more effective for affiliates looking to reach their target audience in a more personal and focused setting. QR codes and short URLs have revolutionized offline marketing, making it simple and manageable for affiliates.
Brick-and-mortar businesses offer a prime opportunity for affiliates to promote a brand and earn commissions, provided they comply with regulations. With the rise of digital noise and distractions, offline environments like retail stores, supermarkets, and daily routines provide a refreshing change of pace for customers, making them a valuable location for affiliate marketing efforts.
QR codes can be incorporated into traditional marketing materials like business cards, postcards, flyers, direct mail campaigns, and networking events, allowing affiliates to effectively reach their target audience and drive conversions. Consider affiliate programs that offer QR code capabilities to increase your earnings and reach your target audience in a more personal and focused setting.
Short URLs can also be used to enhance offline marketing efforts, such as adding them to local ads, magazine articles, signage, or any other printed local ads with the permission of the brand. Networking is still a valuable strategy for referring a trusted brand to people you encounter on a daily basis. A business card promoting your main site, where customers can select the brand based on their budget, game types, and overall atmosphere, is a simple and effective way to do so.
The key to success in offline affiliate marketing is to experiment with different strategies to find what works best for your audience. With a little creativity and perseverance, you can maximize your earnings and make the most of your offline marketing efforts.
The i-gaming affiliate business is so competitive these days with so many offers from all kinds to get that one player to sign up at the casino. However, have you ever thought about the overheads for a casino to operate that smooth player cycle from the moment of the sign up? There are so many things involved, starting with software royalty fees, KYC fees, credit card/e-wallet processing fees, compliance fees, taxes, license fees, personnel (designers, copywriters, developers, administrators, customer service, etc.), which are fixed operating costs that casinos need to cover monthly.
To ensure a sustainable, long-term partnership, it is recommended that affiliate managers discuss commission packages with their partners that are affordable and reasonable. Additionally, it may be beneficial for affiliates to test the commission structure for a specific period of time to gauge the audience’s interest in the casino’s products and offers. Some affiliates may prefer short-term relationships, and that is also acceptable. However, it is important to keep in mind that certain offers may be short-lived if the return on investment is not there for both parties.
It is crucial for affiliates to thoroughly understand the terms and conditions of any program to ensure that there are no surprises or misunderstandings at the end of the month. The most important thing is to ask questions so everything is plain clear from the beginning. For example, ask the formula on how the commission is calculated, the percentage on admin fees, activity quotas, payment currency, commission payout request, etc. Basically, all the terms considered to get a commission payment at the end of the month.
“Cuentas claras, amistad larga” is a Spanish expression which means that if everything is clear from the beginning, the business relationship will last for a long time.
It has been over 20 years of managing affiliate programs, and I have seen how affiliate websites have evolved over the years in terms of the type of information (content) they deliver to their audience. Initially, most affiliates were focused on featuring the famous “Welcome Bonus” and had a banner farm promoting all the offers and the types of games players could find. However, this has changed over the years as players have become more experienced with online gambling.
Affiliate websites have become more than just places for players to find offers; they have become the first stop for finding reliable information where players can feel secure and comfortable before selecting a brand. Players might look for a brand that offers games in their language or specific payment methods, etc. They also tend to visit affiliate sites often to meet other players like themselves and read their experiences, as well as to find tips or guidance when necessary for specific games, etc.
So, these days an affiliate website has a more sophisticated structure, offering:
- Tools (e.g., betting/comparison tools)
- Expert opinions
- Guidance (game info/steps)
- Responsible gambling
Let’s continue to see how the industry evolves with the help of affiliates.
I live in Ontario and have been doing a lot of research on the new regulations that have been applicable since April 3rd. I wanted to share some of my learnings with you in case you want to target Ontario.
There are 68 online gambling brands (as of now) that have their Ontario license and are regulated by the AGCO (Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario). All of these brands come from 36 operators, and some of them are Canadian companies.
Marketing activity in Ontario is subject to a comprehensive regulatory regime (Standards & Policies) and must always be conducted in a compliant and socially responsible manner.
Here is a list of all of these standards and policies:
- AGCO Standards
- iGO Standards Marketing & Advertising Conditions
- iGO Brand Guide Policy
- Canadian Code of Advertising standards
- Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL)
- Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act Ontario (FIPPA)
- Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA)
- Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Unsolicited Telecommunication rules
Affiliates who want to promote an Ontario casino/sportsbook licensed brand will need to make changes to their site in order to be compliant. Here are some of them:
- Only Ontario regulated casinos/sportsbook must be displayed on the website/page.
- Communications that induce, bonuses and credits are prohibited.
- Content must be accurate and truthful.
- The website’s content should not target underage, self-excluded or high-risk individuals.
- Links to Responsible Gaming sources for Ontario (i.e., ConnexOntario) should be included.
- An image of +19 must be visible and accurate on the site.
- A copy line indicating the allowed age to play in Ontario must be included on all marketing and advertising materials.
- The iGO logo guidelines must be followed: Visible in size, correctly and not implying a joint venture, sponsoring, co-organizing or a collaborator.
- The iGO Brand standards must be followed (No white/black design).
- Content must not have life-changing terms or promote guarantees on advertisements.
- Content must not appeal to minors, exploit superstitions or play upon fears to mislead the reader.
- Content should not imitate the content/illustrations from another Affiliate’s website.
AGCO has developed these rules to promote responsible gambling and protect minors, vulnerable people, and self-excluded players.
It might sound a bit difficult to make these changes, but it’s not impossible. I have seen affiliates making these adjustments to their sites accordingly and able to promote regulated Ontario brands.
The popularity of online gambling has greatly increased in Ontario since April 2022. Many popular radio stations are advertising online casinos and sportsbooks. This is also true for TV commercials and outdoor advertisements. Some people are mistaken and believe that these advertisements are from the provincial government. Here is an interesting article on people’s perceptions in Ontario: https://www.ipsos.com/en-ca/how-much-too-much-nearly-half-canadians-think-gambling-ads-have-gotten-out-hand
If you are planning to target Ontario, we might be able to help.
Welcome Bonuses have been the leading campaign to attract potential online casino customers to sign up at their site. Trends have shown that the bigger the bonuses they offer, the more attractive they have become in the market. Typical welcome bonus strategies have been running for many years and continue to be very popular among gamblers.
Another popular marketing campaign are specific seasonal offers that also allow players to enjoy some kind of compensation during particular holiday events – just like the ones you see in the retail industry! These seasonal offers, however, need to be more attractive in terms of their comps, as well as very creative and eye-catching for both new and existing customers who want to feel motivated to play during those specific holiday events.
As for the Affiliates, their major benefit from marketing campaigns comes from the new content that gets created for their site and by engaging more with their audiences so they can visit their site more often for those special holiday offers.
Here are some additional tactics for accomplishing a successful holiday marketing campaign:
- Personalize site/landing pages that better describe the offer according to each given holiday.
- Give a little extra to current customers who make use of each holiday offer.
- Prepare videos/images for social media sharing.
- Make sure to have banners, mailers and any other marketing material according to each affiliate’s specific needs.
- Combine some of your ongoing promos with holiday offers to make a great combo.
- Create articles that give more information on the benefits of each special holiday offer.
- Be open to extending a popular offer if it’s meeting your site’s objectives.
What do you think is also necessary in marketing campaigns for affiliates to promote on their sites?
It has been more than 20 years ago, but it still feels like yesterday when I was asked to manage an online selling team, aka affiliate program, that opened my eyes to a rising industry that changed my career.
After setting up the affiliate program, lots of emails, online messages and phone calls from all around the world started coming from people contacting me to coach them on how to make money online with my casino brand.
Some of my customers were online casino players themselves, others were brick and mortar entrepreneurs who wanted to be a part of the new tech generation trend of making cash by building sites right away!
Technology has allowed new business opportunities like these to become more advanced, the building and maintaining a healthy relationship with affiliates has not changed – just like it is with a marriage 🙂
In this way, a relationship with each one of my affiliates started; as I learned about their own strengths and personalities to provide them a special customized service. So, how do you specifically keep a relationship with your affiliates for a long time? Take a look at the following tips:
- Keep an open mind
- Discuss, but do not argue
- Keep your word
- Be flexible with your ideas in order to reach your goals
- Keep a positive attitude at all times, even in the hardest situations
- Find common connections (hobbies)
- Be open minded with new ideas
- Talk their language (i.e formal/informal)
- Find a time just to talk about life
- and more…
Besides ensuring affiliates receive their commissions on time and accurately, what do you think are other important elements to keep a long lasting affiliate relationship?
Connie Burstin is an iGaming industry veteran, and General Manager @ The Affiliate Agency, a company whose mission is to help the iGaming industry to set up, launch, manage and improve the performance of this performance based marketing channel under proper market regulations.
LIVE LIFE & DON’T LET LIFE LIVE YOU! – LIFE OF AN AFFILIATE MANAGER SINCE 1999
I begin my day at 6:30 am. First thing I do is exercise for 45 minutes and then I engage in some meditation. Then, I take a shower and get ready to head outside and take my dog for a walk. About 3 times a week I go to the supermarket to buy some fresh vegetables and fruits. By that time it is almost around 9:00 am, which means it’s time to prepare a nice coffee and breakfast.
I try to be available at 9:30 am and the first thing I do is prepare my day like the old style of what needs to be accomplished/finished/followed up. I do this by making a list. Once I have decided the type of music that I will listen to that day, I start opening the shop. How do I open the shop online?
Skype and Telegram for me is like opening the shop as most of the time I have affiliates contacting me for doubts, questions or just chatting about a program that I am managing. This can take about 2 hours of the day and making sure that everyone is satisfied with the right answers and the overall service.
Right after this, it’s time to check how the previous day went in terms of business acquired for my clients. This is a daily routine.
Then, I check with my team to see if something urgent needs to be accomplished for the day based on business reports from clients. I then continue with my list by taking a look at the projects where any sort of follow up is required. I look at the clock and it’s somewhere around 11:30, which means it’s time to take a 15 minute break with a second walk for my dog. This is also when I take a moment to think of new ideas for any ongoing projects.
Afterwards, I put aside 2 hours to start recruiting either new clients or looking for more affiliates on behalf of a client.
It is almost lunch time, which I use for getting a snack and also preparing a meal for my kid while making sure that he is on track with his own routine for the day.
Around 3:00 pm I usually make requests to the team either with designs, content or webmastering for a client.
I take another long break to prepare dinner and any other chores that need doing around the house. I usually have dinner at around 6:00 pm with my family and then take another walk for 30 mins. Then, I login again at around 8:00 pm and answer any pending questions from affiliates or clients. Again, I check the report to see how the business is going for my clients, especially to see if any new affiliate started to bring business. If that is happening, I make sure to reach the affiliate and make sure that he has all the necessary tools to keep going.
At around 10:00 pm I take a rest and watch some TV with my husband or my kid and catch up on things that need to be done for the following day at home. At 11:00 pm my eyes start to close and it’s bedtime.
This is my routine from Monday to Thursday.
I try to make the best of Friday and spend most of the day catching up with life, with affiliates, and checking on new opportunities and ideas. I usually have a beer while talking with them and have loud music at home so it’s like celebrating the end of the week. At night time on Friday, it feels like party time at my home! I sing Karaoke and practice a song that I will perform on Saturday for my friends and family on Social Media.
FOR ME WORK HAS TO BE FUN AND ENJOYABLE SO MAKE EACH MINUTE OF MY LIFE COUNT AND IT’S ALSO NICE IF I CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE TO OTHERS.
Jeff Ownby, VP of Operations of The Affiliate Agency, joins the latest series of affiliate interviews on Affiliate Grand Slam
Jeff Ownby speaks about The Affiliate Agency, how they offer everything necessary to run a successful affiliate program from planning to execution. With 20 years experience in iGaming, Jeff Ownby adds that they have developed an innate ability to know which affiliate/operator pairings will result in more revenue for both parties and can help each reach their goals more quickly — follow his story below.
How did The Affiliate Agency take off? Is iGaming your only vertical?
Connie Burstin and I have been working with affiliate programs since the beginning of iGaming and have known each other for over 20 years. A couple of years ago we finally teamed up to work together on an affiliate program and this year, we decided to start The Affiliate Agency to offer our expertise and connections in the industry to help operators launch or grow their affiliate channels.
We have experience in other verticals such as crypto, retail, and dating. However, our focus with The Affiliate Agency is primarily for iGaming operators’ needs.
Tell us a bit more about your business model, concept, and culture.
We offer every service necessary to run a profitable affiliate program (setup, recruitment, engagement, design, content, etc.) and can even provide total management with one or more of our affiliate managers. We take the whole affiliate channel off the operator’s plate, allowing him or her to focus on other areas of the business. The Affiliate Agency has a support team that has been working together for over 15 years with different projects, so our culture is very close to being a family. Even before COVID-19, we operated in a distributed manner. We have staff in Canada, the US, and in Costa Rica.
What does The Affiliate Agency offer?
As mentioned above, we offer everything necessary to run a successful affiliate program from planning to execution and can provide total management including staffing affiliate managers.
What sets you apart from other affiliates (agencies) and what incremental value do your provide?
We are different from other affiliate agencies because we are Doers, not just Talkers. While we help operators plan a strategy to launch and run a successful affiliate program, The Affiliate Agency takes it a step further by actually putting in the work and providing experienced affiliate managers and all of the supporting staff (content writers/designers/developers, etc.) needed for affiliate marketing success.
Also, because we have been in iGaming for 20 years, we have developed an innate ability to know which affiliate/operator pairings will result in more revenue for both parties and can help each reach their goals more quickly.
Which markets are you eyeing up as a priority and why? Do you see any potential in the emerging markets?
We are comfortable working in all markets. Our affiliate relationships are with marketers from all over the world. We are eyeing the US market because of our proximity, but things are more complicated there at the moment.
In general, we have seen growth in markets that were not on a lot of affiliates’ or operators’ radars. Also, due to the pandemic many traditional casino players found the opportunity to play their favorite casino games from home. So, there is still potential to grow an iGaming business in many parts of the world.
The pandemic has changed many aspects of the way business operates and many businesses are now doing things differently. Are you doing anything differently? Have there been any positive impacts for your company?
Since we functioned in a distributed manner before the pandemic, we haven’t been affected at all. The pandemic pushed some conferencing software innovation which has made it easier for us to do our work, so that was an interesting side effect.
Also as mentioned previously, the pandemic has opened up opportunities in new markets, growing our clients’ customer bases.
Which qualities and skills are essential in an affiliate team/business?
Everyone at The Affiliate Agency has to multi-task well and make sure we continue to pair the right affiliates with brands. As evidenced by our longevity in the industry, we keep things real with our affiliate relationships because we value long-term partners more than anything. But overall, we love iGaming and we love what we do, so bringing that enthusiasm to work every day makes all of this easy.
What are your predictions for the future of the sector?
Just like everyone else, we see more consolidation, compliance, and regulation, which will unfortunately make business more difficult for affiliates. The US market is going to be something to keep an eye on as it develops. At some point affiliates will play a big part in marketing for the US, so we’re preparing to see how the channel develops.
How do you choose your operators and how do you manage relationships with multiple operators?
We are open to working with all established iGaming operators and those we believe we will be able to work with over the long-term.
Each operator has their own business objectives so we manage the relationship on a one-to-one basis depending on the operator’s needs. Our team is able to scale as needed and we offer both dedicated and shared affiliate managers. We can manage multiple operator clients with ease.
We realise that not all affiliates work well with all operators. Part of our job as an agency is to match the affiliates we think will work best for each of our clients.
Have you ever been to SiGMA? SiGMA Europe, Africa, Asia, or Americas – which of these four expo shows would you likely book on your diary for 2021, COVID-19 permitting?
Connie has been to SIGMA events in the past and she has benefited greatly from the experience. We are now interested in SiGMA Africa and Americas.
Tell us a bit about yourself – after all, business is done with people, not just companies! Your hobbies, favourite book, favourite quote, whether you are into Gaming yourself, etc.
Jeff – What I enjoy most is vacation with my wife and children. I love getting outside to hike as much as possible. I try to mix in at least a half day of outdoor or cultural activities while traveling for business. When I am at home, I prefer to spend time with my family and do a little bit of gardening. My favorite book is The Path to Power by Robert A. Caro. My favorite quote is my own – “Whoever dies with the least regrets, wins!”
Connie – I like simplicity in everything I do and try to enjoy life as much as I can when business is done. I love singing, dancing, painting, exercising, and entertaining family and friends at home with good food and enjoying good talks. My favorite quote is “Live Life, Don’t Let Life Live You!”