As the internet continues to become more and more saturated with online gambling websites, the challenge to stand out is becoming increasingly greater. Where first page SERPs once displayed a whole host of affiliates who were competing for players, there are now the operators themselves.
This is especially the case when it comes to brand names with many operators such as Jackpotjoy, 888 and Ladbrokes using microsites or sub domains to flood the top spots and keep all of the revenue from their players. Given the financial backing and superior workforces of the aforementioned operators, affiliates have little hope of competing with them for not only their brand names but also for the best short tail terms.
As a result of the increased competition from better equipped companies, affiliates have to look for new ways in order to draw in the volume of users that can allow them to be a success. Doing so as an established affiliate is already tough enough as you have to contend with Google’s latest updates but for new affiliates, the task must seem extremely daunting.
But should this challenge be accepted then there are undoubtedly great rewards to be reaped. One man who knows all about the value of these top level SERPs and the gaming affiliates and operators that fill them is Edward Ihre. He has held high profile positions within partnerships and affiliation departments for Ongame and Pokerstars as well as being managing director of Ladbrokes Poker back when it was good.
Now in his role as CEO and owner of Ihre Consulting, Ihre works with a large number of old and new affiliates that are constantly looking to increase their market share.
Building Affiliate Brands
A CalvinAyre.com readers’ poll earlier this month showed that those who participated felt that building a brand should currently be an affiliate’s main priority. The ‘Building a Brand’ category came in with 36% of the vote ahead of ‘Mastering SEO’, ‘Social Media Strategy’, ‘Customer Relationship’ and three other options.
Ihre agrees that having a brand certainly is a handy weapon to have in your armoury but explains that it is by no means a necessity.
He says: “[It] depends on the business model and strategy of the affiliate and site in question. If it is an affiliate that has the strategy of retaining visitors or have them revisit their site, to not only possibly sign up to multiple operators that they promote on it, but also read and possibly contribute to content to it (for Google purposes), then branding is a key element to achieve that.”
“However, if you are an affiliate doing mostly PPC-campaigns and focusing on perhaps only on one operator at a time and possibly only one domain for that campaign, then branding is not that important as you simply move on to the next one once the campaign is over.”
So while a brand isn’t necessary, it certainly isn’t going to hurt you to have a recognisable one. Many affiliates have had great success by primarily running PPC campaigns it would appear more sustainable to be attracting repeat visitors who could even provide you with multiple streams of revenue. The all-important question is therefore how to go about creating this brand that 36% of pollsters believe to be so crucial.
One place to start, and an area that Ihre specialises in, is ensuring that the operators that you display on your site reflect the image of your site that you’re trying to create.
He explains: “If you want to come across as reliable/objective comparison site, I believe that one should do proper homework regarding the brands and also limit number of brands to promote to ensure that visitors are not given too much choice as that might confuse them in the end (unless presented in a comprehensive way).
“I am more of a traditionalist in terms of the fact that affiliates should promote SOME brands, rather than all, but that those brands can be replaced. For instance if affiliate have Geo-targeting capabilities so that he/she might promote one set of brands in one market (knowing that they are strong there) while a totally new set of other brands in other markets (as they work best there).”
Finding a Niche
The mention of different markets is an important one as there are, of course, more than just one area in which gaming affiliates can target and succeed. For the new affiliates that were mentioned above, this is actually an area where it could be argued that they have an advantage over their more established counterparts.
Creating a site from scratch enables you to be able to specifically target using the domain name, look and feel, and entire content of your site. You’re able to start building a link profile that suits the terms that you want to target – be they short tail or, more likely, long tail.
Ihre admits he is in the camp that views specialising in a particular area as one of the best ways for new affiliates to find quick success.
He says: “I definitely believe that those that can stay if not ahead of the game, at least on par with it, can gain fast success capitalizing on the more specific google-searches for branded games or particular products/game types, while the more general key words are long-term work to gain success in.”
However, he adds that targeting a niche such as those above is by no means a way of ensuring long-term success.
“I strongly believe there are very few that can gain the position of fast success AND long-term sustainability as our market proves year-after-year that in order to succeed long-term, you have to be in it for the long-term.”
One classification of niche markets where this isn’t the case is in different geographical markets. Obviously, some markets are more mature and crowded than others but those who focus on the UK for example might be surprised at just how many opportunities there are elsewhere.
Ihre explains: “Another ‘niche’ is to start focusing on and gaining one-of-the-first-movers advantage in various geographical markets that are still fairly unexplored or un-affiliated.”
Should new starters be able to combine the identification and targeting of a niche market with the creation of a strong brand then they will find themselves in a very strong position for some years to come.
Ihre’s List of Geographical Affiliate Markets
Hard to Enter
Easy to Enter
- Australia (casino)