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!”
More than anything, affiliate marketing Is about keeping long-term partners!
For more than 20 years, Jeff and I have been building relationships with the top affiliates, meeting a lot of them when they were just starting out. We keep things real as we are both very down to earth, no nonsense, business minds, and have experienced all the ups and downs in the iGaming industry since the beginning. We are also both parents so we have developed a lot of patience over the years.
A while ago, I had a discussion at a popular iGaming forum called GPWA who opened their doors to me in 2002 to interact with some of my affiliates. I asked, “What qualities do affiliates look for in an affiliate manager?” We made a list and I wonder how or if anything has changed with everything the industry, world and economy has gone through.
Here is the list:
- Trustworthy – above all else, there needs to be trust.
- Pay on Time – Affiliates are running a business. They are counting on payments to keep things running smoothly.
- Easy to contact – Affiliates are busy and when the time comes to work on your brands, you need to be available to them.
- Don’t be too pushy or demanding – Be patient. Things take time to develop.
- No endless e-mails and questions – Get things settled quickly. Don’t waste time with too much back and forth.
- Be to the point and transparent – In other words – be honest. Even if something negative happens, put it on the table. It will get sorted.
- Be realistic and fair – Affiliates are people and they are open to compromise and fairness, especially in iGaming.
Since these are qualities partners look for in any industry, we expect they hold up pretty well and are just as important today.
What do you think?