As new areas in any industry mature the processes behind the marketing of them change accordingly. Tactics based on adapted logic or shotgun approaches are replaced by tried and trusted methods with past experience to back it up.
Given the wealth of options available to online marketers, there are always going to be some acquisition channels that warrant more time and effort than others. In iGaming one of the channels that has been particularly fruitful is affiliates. Some of the larger affiliates hold considerable clout across industry circles while the likes of PokerStrategy.com even have the ability to make or break new operators.
Affiliates can be responsible for upwards of 80% of acquisitions in the case of some of the lesser known brands. But as a significant focus for many operators continues to be converting their desktop players on to their mobile product in order to increase their value, the affiliates appear to be getting left behind.
Speaking to CalvinAyre.com’s Becky Liggero, Probability Ltd CEO Charles Cohen explained just how important mobile traffic is for online casinos.
He said: “We’re at a point now in Europe where something like approaching half of the revenues for a lot of the big online casinos and online bookmakers are coming from mobile.”
Taking this statement and the earlier one about the affiliate influence on acquisitions into account, it seems strange that mobile affiliates aren’t operating at a bigger level than they currently do.
Although we’ll never know the ins and outs of what sort of volumes mobile affiliates are pushing, at first glance the quality of sites appears poor compared to other industries. This year saw the first set of eGR Power Mobile Affiliates named and judging by them, this section of the industry is far behind where it should be.
A lack of mobile acquisition
The immediate reason behind a lack of quality among mobile affiliates is that they’re simply not as important to operators. As alluded to above, the trend seems to be for online gambling operators to convert desktop players to mobile rather than acquiring mobile traffic.
But this is a trend that isn’t set to last. In his interview with CalvinAyre.com, Cohen also said that the smartphone is many peoples first personal computer. This opens up a huge section of people that pureplay gambling operators simply didn’t have access to before. It means that acquisition on mobile will become increasingly important.
It also means that there will be more opportunities for mobile affiliates; but they won’t come without a considerable amount of hard work. Former 7Red.com CEO Tom Light has blogged on numerous occasions about mobile casino player acquisition. He has emphasised just how tough it’s going to be in “a completely different world where surviving and creating a niche for your company is a tedious task”.
However, a look at other industries should serve as an encouragement for those in mobile gaming acquisition teams. A survey of marketing professionals in the US conducted by Forrester and Velti towards the end of last year showed that 86% of those questioned used mobile advertising and marketing to acquire new customers. Given that many of these marketers were those classed as ‘experienced’ and that customer acquisition through mobile was clearly working for them, there’s plenty of hope for iGaming.
For the majority of affiliates, an increase in the desire for mobile acquisition will mean that their search engine marketing efforts will need to be stepped up. PPC prices will likely increase as they take up a larger percentage of the above the fold screen. The same factor will place greater importance on being in the top two or three spots for those going in search of organic traffic. Initially there’s also likely to be a dependence on a few select short-tail phrases as mobile users begin to shake off their laziness.
Slightly less practical is the simple fact that operators aren’t providing the same quality of tools that they do for desktop affiliates. Ladbrokes, for example, have taken far too long already to simply provide affiliate tracking for their mobile casino affiliates.
A subscriber to this view is Hannes Hanusch who is project lead for CasinoCheck.com which recently launched without a mobile form of the site. As well as stressing that it enabled them to get the site up quicker, he adds that there are still some fundamental problems with mobile gaming affiliate marketing.
He explains: “In general I think the conversion of mobile traffic is still an issue for a lot of affiliates at the moment as also the tools from the operators that affiliates can use are not very well developed yet.”
But like everyone else Hanusch is determined to be a part of the mobile era. He echoes what should be the sentiments of just about every gaming affiliate going by saying: “It is clearly an area where we have significant catching up to do”.