In Part Two of the ‘Industry vs affiliates showdown’ series, David Donaldson from Blueclaw Media interviews leading Sportsbook affiliate Andy Clark, from Thatsagoal.com, about the key trends in the marketplace.
Andy fell into the affiliate industry after finishing university and starting a football blog while looking for jobs. After writing for some of the most established blogs, including Soccerlens and Goal.com, the idea to become an affiliate arose and Thatsagoal.com became a full time job. Four years down the line the website has just enjoyed a very successful Euro 2016.
David Donaldson: What was your reasoning behind starting this venture? Why choose sportsbook over other gaming sectors such as bingo or online casino?
Andy Clark: Thatsagoal.com started as a typical WordPress football blog, the affiliate idea only came after seeing others doing a similar thing very successfully. I started a Twitter account to get some early traffic and it grew from there. Football is always changing, there is never nothing to write about so that fell perfectly into the sportsbook sector.
DD: How do you think the sportsbook industry has developed over the past few years? Do you think the mergers and acquisitions we’ve seen from the gaming powerhouses will benefit customers or not?
AC: Sportsbook has moved massively in the four years I have been an affiliate. Back then the social media market was just booming and that has changed the way people bet; from request-a-bet, enhanced odds to money back specials. As yet it’s hard to tell, Paddy Power and Betfair are still as separate as they’ve ever been – from a customer point of view.
DD: Do you think the Brexit vote has changed consumer behaviour in the sportsbook sector and the iGaming industry as a whole?
AC: The initial reaction to Brexit was to stop spending money. Given the vote came during Euro 2016 it probably softened the blow for the iGaming sector. People were going to bet on the Euros, Brexit or not. The real test for the industry will come as the Premier League season gets underway. The operators have something to compare to then – initially it is hard to imagine Brexit having a dramatic effect on people's thinking, especially your casual Saturday afternoon punter.
DD: Do you think sportsbook affiliates and bookmakers will develop stronger relationships in the future? If so, why? Or if not, why not?
AC: The market is so saturated now that it is difficult to see. Some affiliate managers are so desperate for customers they are reaching out to anybody and everybody at the first sign of a blog, Twitter account or Facebook page. This takes time away from the established affiliates and widens the gap in the already established relationship. Affiliate managers are a massive part of this industry and they are the key to strong relationships between bookmaker and affiliate.
DD: What do you think will happen to the traditional, betting-shop industry in the coming years (will it fully dry up and stop)?
AC: It’s pretty common knowledge that the betting shop is dying, and there is one thing keeping it alive – the FOBT (fixed odds betting terminal). Shrewd punters do not bet in shops anymore, the odds are not as good and the offers are not as appealing. I honestly think if FOBTs were banned or heavily regulated most betting shops would quickly become a thing of the past.
DD: Do you think enhanced odds and Freebets will continue to take over the sports betting world?
AC: Enhanced odds show no sign of stopping. More and more operators are pushing out crazy prices to entice the punter. The problem comes when the punter doesn’t return after claiming the enhanced odds win. Retention is a big issue, especially with the smaller operators, and they might have to rethink their strategy. Free bets will always be there as the staple enticement to get a player to open an account.
DD: What are your thoughts on affiliates trying to optimise for the ‘No Deposit’ offering?
AC: From past experience, no deposit free bet promotion is an easy sell to customers, but generating revenue from these players is extremely difficult, especially with the smaller operators. One success from an affiliate point of view was the Betfred no deposit free £10 on the Goals Galore coupon. This proved fruitful for the affiliate in the long term as the Goals Galore coupon was, and still is, one of the most popular football coupons. Even then revenue is not instantaneous; it takes weeks, maybe even months to see a decent return.
DD: What bookmakers do you feel dominate the industry in terms of marketing and advertising, and why?
AC: Paddy Power is the obvious answer here. Their marketing people are geniuses. Whether it be controversial TV ads or social media campaigns. They have nailed the ‘appeal to lads’ memo and in the sportsbook industry that is the basic mantra. They are out on their own in terms of advertising.
DD: What would your top three tips be for people looking to enter sportsbook affiliate industry?
1. Be prepared to go months without seeing a penny returned for all your hard work. It doesn’t happen overnight.
2. Keep the big operators on side and build relationships with them before getting sucked in by the more aggressive affiliate managers of lesser known operators.
3. Spend more time on your social media strategy than you are. The likes of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook are critical, especially if you can appeal to the right audience and build a decent sized following early.