Becky’s Affiliated: How iGaming Affiliates can simplify traffic management with Laurent Malka

Becky’s Affiliated: How iGaming Affiliates can simplify tracking management with Laurent Malka

Laurent Malka is one of the first people I met in the online gambling industry, our initial meeting was at GiGse 2005 to be exact.  He’s one of the best digital marketers in our space, a widely respected expert in affiliate management and someone who understands iGaming better than most. Malka’s experience in iGaming spans from his time at The Nation Traffic and Euro Partners followed by the launch of his own company, Wingate Ventures, amongst other projects including operating several online casinos.

It wasn’t until l saw his post in the Stephanie Wynters Mastermind Group on Facebook that I realized Malka had started a new project to better the lives of anyone generating or buying traffic.  I wanted to learn more about Malka’s latest venture, TrackingDesk, especially because I can relate to tracking headaches as an affiliate due to my time at Casino City.  The timing is also appropriate, seeing as the LAC is around the corner and affiliates are ready to step things up for 2015.

Becky’s Affiliated: How iGaming Affiliates can simplify tracking management with Laurent MalkaWe all know its not as easy to make a buck in today’s iGaming market as it was 10 years ago, so making the most of your traffic is essential.  Affiliates can absolutely squeeze more revenue out of their existing campaigns with better tracking and less time spent on the arduous task of data management – whether TrackingDesk is the answer to all your problems or you just need a nudge to step up your tracking, hopefully you’ll learn something from my interview with Malka.

Thank you for joining me and sharing your knowledge, Laurent.  Lets start with the background on this project- how & why did you decide to create TrackingDesk? 

After the casinos were sold in august 2013, we found ourselves with many large traffic sources. We had the possibility to either refer them to some friends or monetize their traffic. Several millions hits per day, from over 30 countries required a complete turnaround in the way we were operating until then. Pushing a brand over which you have complete technical control is a serious challenge, but pushing 20 brands over which you have very little technical control is a very different game. So when you find yourself with 20 brands to promote, over 30 countries and each brand has at least 5 different landing page per country, you quickly find yourself drowning under data. No matter how you try to handle this, unless you have a system in place that enables you to manage this traffic in a simple and agile manner, that reports in a granular way results and performances, there is NO WAY you can have a positive ROI.

So my team and I started hunting for platform that could get us to the right position. Unfortunately (and fortunately), we didn’t find anything that would match our requirements. So we were left with the only option to integrate various systems together. From analytic platforms, tracking software, landing page management, geo targeting databases to reporting software. Eventually, we manage to connect everything together and we started operating.

I took a step back and I started breaking down the features and matching them with various type of users – Affiliates, Media Buyers, Agencies, Enterprises. Eventually, I realized that there was a serious gap in the market. Large corporations and enterprises had access to heavy (and expensive) platforms, while small agencies and affiliates were left with basic tools. So I made up my mind, gathered a team and started designing TrackingDesk.

I see, so you identified a gap and built it yourself.  So we know you’ve always been a “tracking freak”- why is this type of data absolutely essential for performance marketers in the iGaming industry? 

People consider me as a tracking freak. I think I’m just being consistent with what our business requires. Data is at the center of every decision we make. Whether media buyers, retention manager, fraud manager or casino manager, we are all relying on data to make the right decisions at the right time. If there is a flaw or delay in the data, and if we don’t have the right tools to analyze this data, we are doomed to make the wrong decisions.

Tracking marketing efforts are at the core of our business, because it is where the journey of the customer starts. If we track properly the first steps of the customer, we will be able to service him better and eventually, generate more income.

And that’s what we all want, isn’t it.  I know your expertise goes beyond iGaming– what tips do you have for iGaming affiliates and media buyers after studying how affiliates operate in other industries? 

As for the gaming affiliates, I do believe that they could drive more revenues for themselves and the casinos if they had the right tools at their disposal. Having worked with thousands of affiliates, of all sizes and kind, I have seen huge amounts of traffic being wasted for many reasons. Whether geo target configurations, wrong landing pages, dead links, outdated promotions… Just name it. And this could be easily avoided if there were management systems in place to support their marketing efforts.

Traffic is a very expensive commodity that is traded at the highest levels of the industry. If the affiliates don’t control their traffic at every point of the route, they can’t maximize their revenues. It’s a simple equation to which I try to provide an agile solution.

So who are your potential customers within the iGaming industry?

Theoretically, anyone buying or generating traffic could be using TrackingDesk.

I will focus on affiliates and small media agencies. Both segments lack the technical resources and manpower to run large ad servers and integrate their traffic sources and advertisers into complex scheme. TrackingDesk’s was built in a way that no technical barriers will ever be a limitation for affiliates when it comes to managing their traffic. Whether the need is to geotarget their traffic, have a unified performance dashboard, or an analytic interface providing them with the ability to breakdown all their performance, by traffic sources, keyword, advertisers, creative, landing pages, OS etc…

Got it.  Can you give me specific examples of how a platform like TrackingDesk will make their lives easier? 

I will give you 2 examples so you can picture for yourself how TrackingDesk operates.

1)SEO affiliate – So the user has a portal ranking on various keywords in Google, he works with 5 brands which are ranking on a listing. Everyday (or several times a day), the affiliate logs in the 5 different affiliate programs to check out the results. Let’s breakdown the challenges:

A. What happens when a US visitor tries to visit a brand that doesn’t accept players from the US?

Currently the traffic lands the brand’s website and the potential player gets a message telling him that he’s not welcome. In the best case scenario, the visitor gets back to the portal or run an other search and the affiliate might or might not get the reward. With TrackingDesk, the affiliate simply needs to configure the campaign to redirect the traffic to a US brand.

B. What keyword or Page on the site generates the best performances and for which brand?

Different analytics services will give you some info about your traffic and how the users navigate through your site. However, none will provide you with analytics combined with the performances. TrackingDesk does that without having to make any sort of configuration. So the user knows which page generates which traffic and performances and can update/modify it’s site accordingly. So if the blackjack section of the site generates better performance through a specific brand, the user can modify the site to give this brand a better exposure.

C. Each brand has several landing pages that could be promoted. How does the affiliate A/B test those pages and get the results?

There are tools that enable you to rotate landing pages, but they are not integrated with geotarget capabilities nor they will get you the performance results. So the affiliate will have to check within the affiliate program for the performances and yet, so many factors can influence the results – such as – Which page generated which conversions. TrackingDesk smartlink enables the user to rotate various landing pages and breaks down the data in a way that shows precisely which landing page performs best from which page and for which country.

D. Can the affiliate properly compare the performances of all its brands?

To some extent yes. However, when you want to compare results for specific segments of your traffic, what the affiliate programs provide you with is very limited.

E. Does the affiliate really enjoy checking its stats in several platforms?

When it’s only 5 affiliate programs, then I reckon that it’s not such a burden, but when you work with 10-20 affiliate programs, it becomes quite heavy. Would the affiliate prefer to see all its results in one single place? Yes, definitely!

2)Media buyerBuys a large volume of pop up traffic from 10 different countries and pushes 5 brands which all have 5 different landing pages. This is a classic case where TrackingDesk can optimize the resources required to run such campaign, but also enable the user to be in full control of the campaign.

The most basic way to run such campaigns will be by providing the ad network with excel files filled with tracking links for each landing page and brands. Based on results showing in the different affiliate programs, the media buyer will ask to update the campaigns, remove links etc..etc… Performance results will be downloaded from the different affiliate programs and the media buyer will be able to make decisions on how to optimize the campaign.

Sounds like fun?

Not to me and I’m fairly confident your readers will not like that either. But that’s how things are done.

First of all, the popup networks, normally provide tracking parameters that enable the media buyer to identify specific traffic segments. Those parameters are passed dynamically into the tracking links and will look like: {pubid} or {sourceid} or %%affid%%. TrackingDesk will collect this data dynamically and will store it for analytics purposes.

The campaign setup enables the media buyer to either create a campaign per country, or create a one single campaign for the 10 countries. In both cases, the media buyer will select its traffic source, allocate to the campaign brands and creative materials (10 or 10000). The outcome will be a single link which will rotate the landing pages based on geo target. Results will show in real time through the analytics module and broken down by parameters, countries, operating system, brands, landing pages. Based on the results, the media buyer will be able to update the campaign assets without ever having to notify or change the initial campaign link.

I tell you what Laurent, for some affiliates and media buyers I’m sure this sounds like a dream come true.  Thanks again for your time today and I’m looking forward to seeing you at LAC and ICE 2015.