As the dust settled on Earls Court and Old Billingsgate Market following the conclusion of ICE and LAC, many iGaming operators and affiliates left weary headed and hopefully full of new business plans. But where previously they may have been returning home to their bedroom or living room which doubled as a workplace, affiliates from this years conference will most likely have returned to an office. This is just one of a long list of working environments that are changing in the online gambling industry as it continues to become ever more professional.
The increase in popularity and market entry from established bookmakers and land based casinos meant that all respectable operators have been professional outfits for some time now. However it has taken some time for the affiliates that promote them to follow suit. It’s a move that was necessary in order to increase the standard of sites on the whole. Of course there are still one-man band affiliates working from home, some of which still do very well, but there is a growing trend of affiliates becoming companies.
The staff at Oddschecker, undoubtedly one of the biggest and most successful iGaming affiliates, are at the forefront of this new professional approach. With a large team of staff and even primetime television adverts, they have gone from strength to strength and what essentially started out as an affiliate site is now a tool that even bookmakers use to check the appropriate odds. While few iGaming affiliates are able to match up to Oddschecker, it shows what is possible for those starting out from humble beginnings. There are affiliate staff specializing in specific areas such as SEO content, design, commercial partnerships and even blogging.
While many affiliates do now have teams that are able to get this sort of work done in house, outsourcing is still a very viable possibility. But no longer is it the case that affiliates seek out the cheapest labour they can from any obscure country. Now work can be done to a professional standard at a reasonable price. As the internet continues to mature there will undoubtedly be more and more skilled workers able to offer their services and effectively drive labour prices down.
Kings of Content
For once, we must pay thanks to Google – which may seem a strange concept after most affiliates have spent their careers hating the search engine. Now that the latest Panda updates are taking effect (particularly 3.3), affiliates are forced to create quality content as keyword stuffing and link building just won’t cut it anymore. This means that content must be a good read and is increasing the need for high quality copywriters – people that are surprisingly rare.
The upshot of this requirement to have better content and more user friendly sites is that affiliate websites will have to be more professional. When it comes to content either an in house copywriter or outsourcing will be able to provide this. Of companies available to provide blogging services, BloggerzAreUs and Snack Media are just two that stand out by offering just about every type of content imaginable. But being professional and having great content isn’t necessarily going to bring in all of the results that affiliates want. It’s certainly not going to be an easy ride.
To begin with, operators are increasing in their efforts to cut out the middle man. A great focus on SEO and larger budgets means that operators now outrank affiliates for many of the biggest search terms. Whereas five years ago the first page of search results for ‘online casino’ may have predominantly featured affiliates, now one or two affiliates are lucky if they manage to get in the top ten. Also government regulation isn’t necessarily making the affiliate’s role any easier. Take the US for example, should heavily regulated online gambling come into effect it’s unlikely that the legislation in place will allow them much of a commission if any. Plus the number of operators will be so low that many customers will already know who they’re looking for. But affiliates shouldn’t be disheartened by this. After all, these are just two slight negatives among a series of encouraging trends. So for those that are able to be successful, great riches lie in wait.
A Bigger Slice of the Pie
Bryan Bailey set up the Casinomeister back in 1997/98 and has been in the game ever since. By 1999 Bailey was able to earn enough from this one site to make it a full time job and has continued to do so for 13 years. Bailey explains that when he first set up the site it wasn’t even intended to be an affiliate site. He says: “Affiliate schemes turned up and casinos were saying that you could make money from your site, you could make 10% commission or something like that. Nowadays people won’t have a casino on their site unless their promised more like 30%.”
This 10% has certainly come a long way now with CPA deals and even hybrid deals commonly available in addition to much higher revenue share options. This increase in earning potential is perhaps a reflection of the quality of the affiliates around. It highlights that as time has gone on, operators have recognised how valuable a large affiliate network can be. Affiliates themselves will be hoping that this long continues.