The online gambling affiliate market has its roots in North American and Europe, but more recently the big money and opportunity in online gambling has moved to Asia. However, it’s a great challenge to break into any online gambling market in Asia, especially if you’re coming from the West as an Affiliate or an Operator. It’s a completely different landscape in Asia.
Affiliates that have mastered territories within the Asian online gambling marketplace are notoriously tightlipped; a characteristic that makes learning their best practices is a challenge in itself. There is no conference or handbook that will list out the techniques needed to attract the coveted Asian gambler, but there are a few experts around who are willing to share their knowledge.
Mr. Yuiga Sano is an online gaming affiliate focused on the Japanese market. Sano is a unique figure in the online affiliate industry, with many years of experience in non-gaming online affiliate activities prior to entering the online gambling affiliate space where he has found great success. Sano graciously agreed to talk with CalvinAyre.com and I am honored to share some of his best practices for succeeding as an affiliate in the Japanese online gambling market.
Just a quick note that Japanese is Sano’s mother tongue, so please bear with the English as the translation is not 100% perfect.
Becky Liggero: Mr. Sano, it’s a pleasure to be talking with you, thank you for joining me and sharing your expertise. As a successful affiliate in Japan, what are the best methods for communicating with your players?
Mr. Yuiga Sano: コミュニティの形成です。
A creation of a community.
Constructing a large scaled website, and continuously updating the information to grow your site is obviously important for increasing your results, but making the readers a fan of your site and having them depend on you for answers, is important in breaking the barrier to a successful website. Some examples of how this is done:
- Creating an SNS type community
- Creating a fan base using periodic mail magazines
- Connecting your site with a Facebook page to distribute information
- Providing a Q&A forum to answer questions of the readers
In Japan, there are less such community sites to date, so the opportunity is there to create a place for players to communicate with the Webmaster as well as each other. Probably adding video contents is good as well.
So the key is to create a community site, which is still lacking in number, in a format that fits you best, whether it be an SNS, a Facebook page, or a forum.
For skills games such as poker, there need to be information and know-how for both beginners as well as professional advice for intermediate players. There is a success model in Japan of such a larger poker forum that is currently partnering up with Poker Stars to drive traffic. For poker as well, the community model would work best, especially since growing the ability of the visitors to the website can lead to higher play amounts, then to revenue.
BL: What kind of content do you find works best for the Japanese online gambling market?
YS: In Japan, the general public is not familiar with what a “casino” is. Whether it be a land-based casino, or an online casino, users will initially have no further knowledge other than the fact that it is a gambling facility. Therefore, detailed information on such topics as the below are crucial to a website targeting Japan.
- What kind of casinos exist
- What kind of licenses exist
- What kind of software are used
- What kind of games are offered
- What kind of deposit/withdrawal methods are offered
Japanese players are especially cautious of the deposit/withdrawal methods. For example, in other markets, NETELLER is a major form of payments, but Japanese users have no knowledge of what NETELLER is. Users will not user payment methods that they have no prior knowledge of, therefore a detailed explanation of what NETELLER is, and why it is safe or easy to use, need to be presented on the website.
Keep in mind that Japanese users are very reluctant to use websites that are not offered in Japanese language, due to that most Japanese people cannot read or speak English. The explanation pages should include lots of diagrams and screenshots, preferably videos to explain the process. This also goes for explanation pages on the registration processes, etc, especially because even though many of the major gaming software are offered in Japanese language, some of the translations are not completely correct, making it difficult for users to understand the full process easily. In order to make sure your readers go through the required processes, beginner friendly explanations are a must.
BL: How much time do you spend on SEO strategies?
YS: It’s not easy to say in a simple way how and what SEO efforts are required, but any SEO strategy should be based on a long term effect rather than short term. For example, I always implement strategies that are based on 6 to 12 months. Of course some have more immediate effects than others. I always try to be careful that I am not too fixated on the word “SEO”. If I am too focused on pure SEO activities, then my only concern becomes the search engine rankings instead of what really need to be changed or added on the website.
Also, there is no need to make one website that will target a huge number of key words, because having multiple websites each focused on different keywords is just as good. Therefore, basic SEO is of course needed but the main focus should be on creating good contents that the users are looking for, for higher conversion and continued play.
BL: Any finally, what advice do you have for affiliates that want to crack the Japanese market?
YS: The Japan market, to be frank, is a market where the norms of other markets to do not apply. As stated in Q2 above, users do not have basic knowledge of casinos nor the various payment methods such as NETELLER.
Also, it is important to understand that Japanese people are very allergic to anything that look and feel foreign to them, including website that are in English language or in designs or formats that are not “Japanese”. This needs to be a pre-condition when planning out the contents required, and detailed explanations need to be provided so that the users can overcome these hurdles.
One example strategy can be to focus not on the bigger concept of “online casinos” but to focus on a game that people are familiar with. These would be slots and baccarat. The mass of Japanese players prefer to play slots, while the VIPs usually play baccarat. For skills games, Japanese are more familiar with mahjong, rather than poker. Poker in the recent years has started to gain recognition, but is not comparable to the number of people that already play mahjong.
The best way to start is to look at affiliate websites that currently exist in Japan, to see what kind of contents are offered by Japanese affiliates, but to also look for what unique contents are not yet offered in this market, to create your affiliate site strategy.
BL: Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge Mr. Sano, it’s truly been a pleasure.