The best operators and affiliates are those that stay ahead of regulatory changes and make the necessary adjustments well ahead of time, as well as going above and beyond what is expected of them.
That is the view of Fraser Linkleter, CMO of Slots Temple, who has been speaking to CasinoBeats and how affiliates can do things differently in a way that would not only raise the profile of operators but of game developers too.
Dissecting the evolving role of affiliates, Linkleter delves into the traditional affiliate model, the increasing role of apps, and how organisations can best build and maintain a trustworthy reputation.
CasinoBeats: While the traditional affiliate model is becoming a well-worn path, what innovation is there in the market at the moment?
Fraser Linkleter: I think that in comparison to other products – like sports, bingo and poker – the casino affiliate business has been slower to innovate. However, any affiliate that is working to create communities and developing tools that add value (and are genuinely useful for users) are on the right track.
It’s really all about understanding user experience and user needs and creating a product that is as enjoyable and informative at possible; this will result in achieving return visits. Put simply, sites that offer services that encourage repeat visits are the ones that will have a long-term future.
“…the best operators are the ones that treat affiliates like true business partners”
It’s also important to work closely with partners like operators and game developers to give customers genuine added value. We’ve created a free slots tournament product on Slots Temple with the aim of creating a community of slots players who love playing free slots. It also gives us an opportunity to work closely with game developers to promote their content in imaginative and engaging ways.
CB: What could operators be doing differently to raise their profile?
FL: From a B2B point of view, the best operators are the ones that treat affiliates like true business partners. Operators that work with affiliates on not just lead generation but media, PR, promotions, and responsible gambling, automatically raise their profile and generate way more coverage for themselves. A genuinely collaborative approach is much better – and more profitable – for both parties.
It feels as though we’ve come full circle; when the industry was in its infancy, engaging with affiliates was the first thing that online casinos did to improve business. Now I feel that – with the regulatory environment as it is – that engagement has become a hugely important factor once again.
If a casino operates in a way that treats players well, is transparent with them, and stays on top of regulation, chances are they will be a good B2B partner. Trust goes a long way in developing a close B2B relationship, which in turn will raise an operator’s profile with affiliate customers.
CB: What role are apps playing? And do you envisage this rising in the future?
FL: App development is definitely an area that operators and affiliates will need (and want) to focus on. Google is very keen to push apps and we are seeing more and more app listings in the keywords we try to rank well for.
There is, however, no point creating apps just for the sake of it; affiliates must try to create apps that are useful and add value for the user. Players have become very savvy when it comes to choosing apps.
“The most important thing for an organisation is to keep absolutely on top of regulation”
If there isn’t an immediate and obvious reason for having an app take up valuable real estate on players’ devices, they’ll simple delete the app and move on to the next option. There must be value.
CB: Given the current climate and regulatory landscape, how can organisations best build and maintain a trustworthy reputation?
FL: The most important thing for an organisation is to keep absolutely on top of regulation and to make the changes and adjustments necessary well ahead of time. The best operators and affiliates are keeping ahead of it now and trying to go above and beyond what is required of them. We see it in the UK, where the advertising focus on TV for big operators is all about responsible gambling tools and how they can help prevent problem gambling.
As affiliates, our responsibility is to take a cue from the operators and do everything we can to prevent problem gambling and give customers the information they need to make the informed, responsible decisions. For the UK market it has become paramount and we all need to do our part in respecting and reacting to this fact accordingly.
CB: How do you envisage the role of affiliates developing during the next 12-18 months?
FL: Obviously, there are big regulation changes coming in, so keeping (and staying!) on top of that while adapting to the associated changes will be a challenge for all affiliates.
We already work very closely with a lot of our top game developers, often dealing directly with them rather than via product and affiliate manager; we expect the relationships between game developers and affiliates to continue to grow and develop.
To stay effective, affiliates will need to be as collaborative as possible within all areas of the industry – media, game developers, operators, etc. – to get the best information and genuinely add value for their users.