There has been a lot of chatter surrounding online poker trends, consolidation, ecosystems, rakeback and the industry shake-up that US regulation would bring about. So what does this mean for poker affiliates?
Jeremy Enke, founder of Poker Affiliate Listings and one of the most informed online poker affiliates in the industry, agreed to share some of his expertise in this space. During the interview Jeremy covered how poker affiliate managers must become their own brand and the importance of trust, changes in poker affiliate program Ts & Cs, sharks vs. fish and what is better for the affiliate, the rakeback debate, what happens to affiliates if the US opens up and advice for success in 2011.
This interview will be shared in two parts, the first with a focus on affiliate managers and affiliate programs and a second on rakeback and the US market.
PART 1: Poker affiliate marketing strategies for 2011, affiliate managers and affiliate programs
Becky: Tell me about the importance of trusting your affiliate manager.
Jeremy: In 2011 and beyond it will be even more important for poker affiliates to trust their affiliate managers. Unfortunately, it is not 2005 anymore where you’re always guaranteed to simply just get paid; and if you don’t, you just move on. For poker affiliates, often times the affiliate manager is the name and face of that room. This is also why poker operators need to be cognitive of the affiliate manager they are hiring to represent their rooms.
Trust is becoming a very important factor across the board for deciding which poker rooms to promote in the affiliate space. On the affiliate side of the business, we seldom know who is behind the overall operation (okay, we never do), so the AM plays a major role in representing the room to affiliates. In my opinion, the way a poker affiliate manager builds their own “personal brand” should play a major role in the rooms overall branding strategy.
You look at trusted affiliate managers like, Riyaz Abdulla, Atil Singh, Justin Johal, Stephen Freund; it doesn’t necessarily matter where these guys work. Affiliates will promote their brands because the affiliate managers have spent years building their trust and reputation in the affiliate community.
Becky: What are some of the pros and cons of working with an affiliate network vs. directly with the rooms?
Jeremy: Personally I think there are a lot of great poker rooms and affiliate programs out there. But as an affiliate, many of us are promoting 50+ poker/casino/sports/bingo companies at the same time. There is something to be said for having one backend to login to and get trackers, banners, and check stats. Not to mention, getting one payment every month from a trusted network makes running your business so much simpler.
I wrote an article in last month’s edition of GPWA magazine about this subject and received great feedback on it. In the retail market space, this is truly the norm. Look at CJ, Pepperjam, Google Network, and the list goes on. Now we just need to see what network emerges as the true leader in the poker affiliate market moving forward. With so many rooms coming and going however, I could see this as a more reliable model for poker affiliates in the next few years.
Becky: Why are we starting to see a lot of changes in Ts & Cs amongst some of the larger affiliate programs in the market? What are some examples of these changes?
Jeremy: This is really the biggest issue right now for poker affiliates in 2011. To digress back to question #1; affiliates don’t know who we can trust at this point. Sadly, many big poker affiliate programs are forgetting that “we the poker affiliates” helped them back in 2002-2008 to become market leaders. I hate to call out individual programs, but you can start with Bwin, Partygaming, and Fulltilt. They have all changed their T&C’s over the past year. Now many are slapping us in the faces by going back on their commitments as set forth in the original agreements.
I will say however that most affiliate managers and affiliate departments where T&C changes are happening have no say in this. As the industry matures and consolidates, it’s the higher ups and “suits” who have no clue what the affiliate department even does that see numbers on paper and demand that the payouts be decreased, and the departments margins increase.