Elina Basheva, Affiliate Director at 247Partners, assesses the impact of COVID-19 on affiliate businesses, marketing responsibly, and striking productive relationships with operators.
How are major affiliate businesses addressing the myriad issues arising from the global coronavirus pandemic? How has it impacted operationally?
The current circumstances are without precedent, and companies across the globe are having to adjust their commercial strategy. Our industry was no exception, and in many countries land-based and retail outlets remain shut to this day.
Although the online sector did not experience the same impact, affiliates have also had to adapt. The affiliate market is famously close-knit, so it has been particularly affected by the reduced opportunities for in-person networking at industry conferences.
Sportsbook outlets, meanwhile, have placed a renewed emphasis on esports and other verticals to compensate for the recent hiatus on live fixtures. As an online affiliate programme, 247Partners has adapted rapidly to the situation; immediately instituting a remote working policy and boosting our workforce with key new hires.
Our response showcased an impressive level of agility, and in my view the change in circumstance has actually stimulated the creativity of our talented employees.
What is the ideal balance in the relationship between operators and their marketing partners? How much control should operators exert?
The key elements to any commercial partnership are proactivity, mutual respect and compromise. Companies that exhibit those characteristics on a consistent basis are well on the way to cultivating a productive, long-term relationship with their partners.
In practice, that means that affiliate managers should closely monitor a given advertising campaign and provide detailed, ongoing feedback on its performance as well as suggestions for improvement. A healthy relationship between operators and affiliate partners allows you to rapidly identify any outlying fluctuations and address them effectively. When managed correctly, these partnerships can exceed KPIs, boost revenue and drive market share for all parties involved.
Since 2019, 247Partners has seen two online casinos join its portfolio. Can you tell us a bit more about them?
247Partners is an innovative multi-brand affiliate platform with a diverse range of online outlets. Recent months have seen us add two immersive, gamified and popular new brands with widespread player appeal.
The first among them, MGA-licensed AmunRa, went live in May of 2020. It’s an Egyptian-themed site that offers players a diverse suite of thrilling casino content from a host of industry-leading providers. It welcomes customers from across the globe with a generous bonus pack of up to €1000, with a bumper VIP program that elevates the player experience by collecting Ancient Egyptian Gods that can be exchanged for generous bonuses and rewards.
Fast forward to July, and 247Partners went from strength to strength with another acclaimed brand launch. The Curacao-licensed casino, 7Signs, allows players to choose from a selection of seven different welcome bonuses and lucky signs to bring its games to life.
Thanks to its inbuilt gamification, generous VIP rewards and an achievements programme allowing players to collect coins which can be exchanged for cash prizes, the brand has proved a hit with customers from across the globe.
What are the major challenges faced by affiliates when entering new markets? How have these changed over the last four years?
When it comes to entering new markets, detailed regional knowledge is the most important ingredient in the recipe for success. Localised content is a must, and full compliance demands an in-depth understanding of the territory’s regulatory requirements.
A lot has changed in recent years. Affiliates need to follow and adapt to constantly shifting search engine algorithms to maximise SEO. In general, regulation has also become stricter, with more stringent advertising requirements of particular relevance to the affiliate market.
The increased prevalence of streamers and social media marketing also changes the game for traffic acquisition modelling. 247Partners, however, is a dynamic and agile platform more than capable of meeting these challenges head on.
Given the intense media spotlight shone on the gambling industry, how can affiliates help companies market themselves in a responsible way?
The gambling industry is a constantly shifting commercial environment on which the regulatory spotlight has only grown harsher. To help operators market themselves in a responsible way, affiliates need to be fully aware of the individual marketing requirements of the jurisdiction in question.
These are likely to differ depending on your client’s product, the territory they operate in and the regulatory body in question, so expertise and experience are both essential to responsible marketing.
What role do you want to see affiliates playing in the gaming industry longer term?
In many ways, affiliates and operators have always been co-dependent. Bearing in mind how fast the world of gambling has developed, and how much has changed, I would like to see affiliates increase traffic for their operator partners by larger margins than ever before.
With a growing stream of fresh content flooding the market every day, the gambling industry’s commercial performance could be set for an impressive comeback. Watch this space.