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We are currently putting processes in place to work out how we receive documentation from an affiliate and forward it to an operator in a safe and secure way, as we need to keep in mind legal and compliance aspects, as well data protection regulations.
What effect would the regulation of the affiliate sector have on your margin? The margin, in the worst case, will stay the same.
In the best case it will increase. Once we have our system in place, affiliates can save a lot of time. Imagine the hassle if you are an affiliate working with casinos and you need to submit your information to all casinos.
I believe if we integrate the compliance function into our system, it will attract an even larger share of affiliates to work with us.
In your opinion, what will the next years look like for affiliates, and do you think smaller affiliates will find it more difficult to operate once the market conditions change?
No, there always will be smaller affiliate companies. Affiliation is a massive and fast-growing industry.
We know of companies that started six months ago, and they are now well on their way to becoming important players in the market. Then there is also the trend of operators acquiring affiliates, which is also fuelling growth within the affiliate industry.
I think in the coming years the industry will continue maturing due to increased compliance. But many people think that affiliation is a wild west industry with lots of cowboys; this is not the case.
Yes, there are a few shady guys in the industry, just like in many other industries too. Beyond iGaming, there are many other industries that use affiliates to market their products.
Do you see regulating the wider affiliate industry as another big opportunity for Malta? Regulation makes it much more attractive for the serious market players.
Regulation could give affiliates from all industries a seal of approval, and I believe Malta would make an attractive European hub in this scenario.
We exist to empower our clients to move forward with confidence. To make confident decisions about the future, a growing business needs a different kind of adviser.
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Each member of the RSM network is an independent accounting and consulting firm each of which practices in its own right.
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The remote gaming business accounts for an important part of our clientele. Therefore, we have taken several measures over the years to ensure that our service offering and operations reflect the importance and prominence of this sector to our business.
The second step was to ensure that our gaming clients experience the advantages of our integrated approach. Managing different professionals — lawyers, tax advisors, auditors and others — may sometimes prove challenging in terms of timeframes and coordination.
So we built our own business process to provide a seamless and integrated workflow, focusing on a project team drawing on different professional skillsets available under one roof.
To ensure even higher degrees of efficiency, we have dedicated Remote Gaming Desk Coordinators, whose sole objective is to deliver exceptional service to our gaming clients.
What are the main mistakes that many iGaming companies make when starting up? It is a well-known fact that the gaming industry is lucrative, and this sometimes leads to individuals entering the market without the necessary experience and without having done the necessary market research.
Another common mistake is failing to define their strategy and products well enough, and this reflects in the legal and compliance setup.
Over the years BDO has gained in-depth experience and knowledge in what is required, to ensure that the start-up process of gaming companies runs smoothly.
Therefore, we have built a methodological approach to the process in order to further ensure that our gaming clients can also effectively set-up and obtain the applicable licence within the shortest time frame.
As an advisor, I would highly recommend that entrepreneurs seek our advice at an early stage, prior to setting up their intended. That way, we can leverage our experience to guide new gaming companies on the optimal way forward both in terms of efficiency and effectiveness.
What are the three things that you would advise startups to consider before kicking off iGaming operations? A sensible approach would be to conduct specific research with respect to the critical business fundamentals, as well as the experiences that potential customers are presently demanding.
Whether you are new or an industry veteran, always seek advice from consultants on the latest legislative changes within the jurisdiction you are considering.
Such changes may affect your operation, your financing and your profitability, which ultimately means the difference between winning and losing.
Players are spoilt for choice with many platforms to place their bets. Product innovation and player experience are critical factors to success.
From your experience, what is the average profitability of iGaming companies and what should these companies be targeting? There are many factors that affect profitability within this sector.
For example, an online casino that is heavily dependent on affiliation to drive its traffic will have a different cost-base to those platforms who invest in building organic traffic.
One must also consider at what stage of life the company is. Companies in their first two to three years of operation would not generally make any net profit since they would be focused on reinvesting any available funds into marketing, with the sole aim of growing their brand, and as a result their turnover.
In terms of auditing a gaming company, what are the big issues that you encounter? Many gaming companies use custom software to run their business.
This means that an auditor cannot assume that everything has been recorded. As auditors, we are obliged to confirm that the financial statements reflect what is in the system and therefore, we look closely at their IT systems to understand the transaction flow.
Auditors also need to have the right knowledge and understanding of the gaming industry and its different contractual obligations and operations.
Needless to say, regulatory and tax issues are quite significant for gaming companies, particularly in relation to their online operations, due to a constantly changing environment in multiple jurisdictions.
There is also a global dimension to consider - many gaming companies may have a base in Malta, however, they are very likely to have structures in other jurisdictions such as Israel, UK, Sweden, Denmark and Gibraltar.
In fact, I would say that there are hardly any structures that involve only Malta. Our BDO network, present in different countries, provides immense support in other jurisdictions and global auditing services.
When advising on a merger or an acquisition, what areas are you looking into? These transactions are typically very complex because they are likely to involve different jurisdictions, with several structures in each jurisdiction and therefore wide tax and legal implications.
VAT registered person, since this entails that the operator would be unable to claim any credit for input VAT. In reality, since online casino operations are deemed to be electronically supplied services and, therefore are deemed to take place where the customer, in this case the punter, is established, the online casino operator would be required to collect Maltese VAT only when the customer is established in Malta.
In any case, since the supplies are deemed to be taxable for Maltese VAT purposes, the online casino operator would be able to recover in full all input VAT incurred or self-assessed.
In addition, the changes should lead to a reduction, and in certain cases the complete removal, of the use of a non-Maltese entity in a joint-venture setup.
Can you describe the ideal Chief Financial Officer for a gaming company? That is, comfortable operating with lightning speed, in a continuously changing environment where profits are high, but risks are also very high.
The ideal CFO must be fully capable of setting financial policy and direction for the gaming company to ensure efficient control of financial resources and maximisation of profits.
Positive; we will see more growth driven by new technologies and enhanced customer experience. Corporate substance is becoming increasingly an issue.
Corporate substance is mandatory for companies to benefit from refunds and other mechanisms. New company formations require appropriate physical presence, registered employees on their books and all other requirements typically associated with the activity of the company.
New VAT guidelines will come into force in January. What will change for operators in Malta? Although an exemption from tax is generally believed to be a positive status, this is not the case for a.
He has more than 22 years of professional experience in accounting, business development, IT consultancy, company restructuring and finance.
He is a Certified Public Accountant with more than 15 years post-qualification experience. Growing the brand internally by developing a robust and well-rounded employee experience that has its employees singing praise at the Saturday night dinner table!
Just like the rest of Videoslots, our HR department has also been through some exciting winds of change. Lorraine, who was one of the first to join the company has recently been assigned a new role, focused around employer branding.
This will see new and improved changes, not only in the way we promote ourselves externally but also how we retain and grow our people.
We want our employees to feel proud and cared for. As part of our new learning and development strategy, Justin was recently brought on board to develop this crucial function.
He will foster a continuous learning culture as well as support our internal branding though the strengthening of HR processes.
His background in coaching and organizational psychology offers our staff the necessary support to develop themselves personally and professionally.
From a branding point of view this year will see her focus on strengthening our talent acquisition processes. Gemma our most recent addition will oversee the whole function and ensure that our HR strategy is aligned with our organisational objectives.
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Robin Reed, CEO of Gaming Innovation Group GiG , says disruptive and innovative start-ups can today take advantage of a strong and mature iGaming ecosystem to grow their business, but good tech needs to be at the heart of every new challenger brand.
Can you tell us more about the roots of GiG and your business model? The predecessor of GIG was a poker forum and social network called Donkr.
We launched it during the Facebook boom when we figured poker players would not want to discuss their game in their Facebook feeds.
We wanted to put an end to this and decided to launch Gaming Innovation Group in in order to work towards our vision to make iGaming an open and connected ecosystem for the benefit of all.
The first milestone was the launch of White-label Guts. We wanted to control the front-end and customer service to improve the user experience.
Guts grew quickly and to pursue our vision, we had to obtain our own licences. We wrote our own platform from the first line of code. We sold the platform in order to enable a sharing economy.
By integrating suppliers and operators, we could avoid them having to do duplicate work, thus freeing up resources to improve the UX for all stakeholders.
In , iGamingCloud was launched following the vision of making the iGaming industry lean. In we also went public on the main stock exchange in Norway, in order to gain access to the capital markets and to turn GIG into a liquid instrument.
From there we proceeded to create a publishing business and called it GiG Media. Too many people are writing with a one-sided view on our industry.
We wanted to highlight all the amazing products and services on offer. Since then, we have built one of the largest affiliate networks in the industry through organic and acquired growth.
Today, we are the largest affiliate in the Nordics in terms of Google traffic. Some of them are only coming into play as we speak and in the near future;.
Today, the company employs more than people. Fuelled by our vision to open up iGaming, we are aiming to become the most influential company in the industry.
As an investor in B2B and B2C products, what criteria do you look for when choosing a company to invest in? We would want to see a core group of dedicated, insanely knowledgeable and motivated staff, who are in for the sport.
While not a fully fledged solution, there would need to be good tech at the heart of the business. They would need to be socially conscious and inspired by regulatory compliance.
Most importantly, however, they need to be absolutely relentless and committed to improving the user experience.
Many companies actually say there is very little innovation happening within the iGaming industry. Do you agree with this statement or do you have a different point of view?
Over the past decade, the iGaming industry has seen a lot of iterative innovation, but very little disruptive innovation. This is probably due to the heavy regulatory burden, however, it is also due to bad habits within the industry; I expect this to change though.
The world of tech is accelerating its pace of innovation, which is spilling over to our industry and creating a lot of opportunity to re-shuffle the value chain.
GiG runs its own accelerator programme. Why did you choose to do this and what meaningful impact does it have on the business? Rather than simply investing financially, we align products and start-ups with our eco-system and we can.
We are also working on a knowledge-sharing programme of educational events and gettogethers for programmers and techies around the isle and a broader CSR initiative.
This will be a non-profit which seeks to inspire, promote and celebrate entrepreneurism for a better and even more progressive Malta. By collaborating with the many great existing organisations and individuals around the isle, we can ultimately make Malta an even more successful iGaming hub and reap the benefits down the line.
How do you see Malta performing as a place for start-ups and what elements could be improved? Malta has performed exceptionally well in recent years.
To continue scaling horizontally and vertically, one needs to attract top competence, and grow the standards of everyone involved in the eco-system.
The governmental bodies need to be frontrunners in this process and enable and facilitate growth by rapidly developing education, schooling, infrastructure and culture.
Finally, I would also like to add that hard-working people thrive with a great work-life balance. Beautiful nature, healthy leisure and recreation options, are some keywords.
We now have the best opportunity in the history of the island to create a sustainable and environmentally friendly future.
Growth through acquisition is one of the main drivers for iGaming companies to grow their market share.
From your experience, what are the main challenges when integrating an acquisition? Neither can the challenge of leadership.
Making people who were in control of. BIO Robin Eirik Reed started his iGaming career as a community manager before founding and operating several iGaming-related businesses.
After that has been achieved, everything can be sorted, and I guess the generalist solution is: When you put smart people together and empower them, beautiful things happen.
As a foreign investor, what do you believe Malta needs to do to remain attractive and competitive as a location for iGaming companies?
We are recruiting peak numbers of people in iGaming every month, with an increasing amount of people needing housing and schooling.
Employees have been increasingly voicing their concerns about the pressure on the infrastructure. Rental prices are soaring in central areas, and it is tough to get your children into the international schools.
Therefore, it is becoming increasingly challenging to attract the best talent. This is the time to invest on a grand scale into infrastructure and to distribute the wealth amongst everyone and develop Malta even further, for the decades and generations to come.
How do you see the gaming landscape evolving over the next five years? These days there are a range of established companies operating on strong platforms.
This is a trend which is guaranteed to continue over the coming years. These companies have a sustainable edge in their culture.
They are in a position to consolidate, and it is becoming very hard to compete with them at a large scale.
That said, there has never been a better time for start-ups. The differentiation is the quality and targeting of your business. The infrastructure and technology is so powerful these days, and the industry has grown much larger.
One can quickly tap into the eco-system and reach scale with something disruptive and differentiated.
GiG has enjoyed great success. Where do you want to go from here? We want to bring something new and innovative to the world of sports betting.
It will allow sportsbook operators to design their front-end for all of our APIs, and we are designing our own odds from the ground up.
Our most ambitious B2C start-up to date is called Highroller. And then there is the new adventure we have embarked on with setting up our own games provider, GiG Games, in Marbella.
Can you tell us a bit about Hero Gaming and its beginnings and explain where the company stands today? Hero Gaming was founded in and went live with its first brand in June , which was then called Casino Saga.
I have personally worked many years in the gaming industry, being CTO at Betsson and Betsafe and co-founder of Casumo. After I left Casumo when the company moved completely to Malta I had an idea that the gamification of casino could be taken even further.
I then started to outline the concept of Casino Heroes, where players move forward on a map, find treasure, can jump between islands and collect Rubies - the extra currency of the site.
Since its launch, Casino Heroes has been very successful, especially in the Scandinavian countries, but now also with its recent launch in the UK market.
Casino Heroes also has a Japanese version, called CasiTabi. What was your route to market and how long did the process take from idea to market?
I started off as a programmer and still love technology. I think that the most interesting things happen at the intersection of brands, creativity and technology; so deciding to build our own platform was key to our success.
It took us one year to build the platform and launch the first brand. Many iGaming companies are offering the same products. How did you define your unique selling points and how difficult do you think it is today to position a start-up in this industry?
Hero Gaming is the leader in gamification of gambling, so our unique take in our brands is always to give the players an extra game, loyalty programme or feature that makes it more fun and gives the player extra reasons to stick around.
Being a start-up in this industry is becoming increasingly harder. The amount of money needed for marketing is becoming very vast and the added regulatory challenges are a burden on us all.
It can be done, but to be successful you need to stand out in the market. What were the big challenges that you encountered in terms of funding and financing a new gaming company, and how did you rise to the challenge of securing investment?
I was lucky to have a good name in the industry, so receiving money for Hero Gaming was not that hard. I am glad to say that it was a very good investment for the investors, and we do all we can to make it become better every day.
To scale up you have to be very smart with the means you have. One core problem is knowing how much money should be put into brand-building marketing activities.
Doing tactical acquisition marketing is easier since you can quickly measure what works and what does not. In the case of long-term brand building, you need to let it play out for several months before seeing an effect and it can become very costly.
We have managed to grow our business a lot and are now approaching people, so naturally organisational issues will occur. To me, something that helps in a growing company is to have a company culture that makes things run smooth and avoids office politics.
Can you mention three areas that Malta could improve on in order to make it even more attractive to start-ups and early stage companies from the gaming industry?
Many companies are quickly reinvesting profits and often spending a significant share on marketing. It is understandable and in most cases reasonable.
However, I think that some companies go overboard here, and it can create a culture that profit is not important at all. With the added taxes and costly compliance requirements, it can put companies in a bad spot over time.
Looking back at your journey, is there anything that as a founder you would have done differently? I think that one would always do some small things better if done again, but none of these would be vital in my case.
How would you rate Malta as a start-up location? Quite good; Malta is a nice place to find good people and the weather, culture and language are also plusses.
The first one would be to work fast to becoming more efficient as a society. Make processes - ranging from better internet banking to getting a personal ID - faster, more reliable and digital.
The second one would be to focus the educational system more on innovation and creativity, and the third one would be to market Malta as a good option for young entrepreneurs throughout Europe.
I think the best start is to become players themselves. We forget what it is about; when it is fun and exciting and when it is not. If you play, you can understand what is missing in the market and go all in on that.
On a more personal level, what was your route into the iGaming industry? I played my first Black Jack hand when I was 18 years old in a club, and my cards were 10, 9 and the dealer got 8, Jack.
At that point I understood the rush and the feeling that gambling gives you. When I studied at university I created my first casino site that was really an affiliate site for a download casino called Casino Lux.
I went around the Casino Cosmopol in Malmo and put up signs on the cars to promote my online casino, highly illegal probably.
We have been servicing gaming companies since the onset of the industry in Malta. We provide a one-stop shop service, assisting in corporate structuring, tax planning, licensing, VAT optimisation and compliance, accounting and audit services.
We are also approved MGA compliance and systems auditors, and have been serving in this role for the past seven years.
We make it very clear to clients that they should not look at Malta as a tax base. Companies need to have substance in Malta, and this means more than just an office and a few employees.
The Malta operation needs to add value to the group, and decisions must be taken from Malta. The iGaming industry has evolved and matured during the past years.
How has your client profile changed? There have been calls for greater tax harmonisation in the EU.
The industry has definitely grown and matured, and so has its outlook and approach. When we started around 15 years ago, many of our clients had limited substance on the island.
They had a licence, but only small office set-ups. Since then, some of these clients have grown and developed into large companies, with a number of them listed on stock exchanges around the world.
Corporate governance is much more relevant today than it was a few years ago. We also see an environment where, for some time now, there have been several mergers and acquisitions.
Larger companies are acquiring smaller operators and start-ups, whose strategies are often geared towards a buy-out. Moreover, transfer pricing for the acquisition of intra group services would also need to be analysed in this context.
However, most of our clients are already developing their structures with such a framework in mind. We have a number of listed companies in our client portfolio, and they are very much ahead of the game.
When a new client comes through your door, what kind of approach do you take to meeting their requirements? Looking at the other end of the spectrum, what are the most common mistakes you see in start-ups and early stage companies?
We first need to understand their product and what markets they are planning to operate in, so that we can advise them on the licensing part.
Subsequently, we tackle the issue of VAT structuring, because the same product might be vatable in some markets but not in others. In the case of group structures, we proceed to guide our clients with regard to which companies within the group should acquire which services.
From a tax point. The industry is maturing, and entering the market is not easy. Innovation, focus, leverage, resilience and experience are all elements that should be present in every successful start-up.
Our experience indicates that start-ups typically require anything. Estimating the required cash burn and ensuring a sufficient capital base at the onset remain critical.
Meanwhile, exploring the application of B2B platforms in business models may reduce initial capital requirement, risk and lead time.
A brand new Gaming Act will enter into force in What are your thoughts and opinion on the content of the new legislative package?
The riskbased approach to regulation that the MGA plans to adopt is very positive. It is time to move away from a rule-based approach and take a more in-depth look at operators and their risk profile, and then regulate accordingly.
This approach should also reward companies that invest in their systems and achieve certain certifications.
So far, we have only seen the draft regulations, and not the technical requirements. The industry is now eagerly awaiting these as sometimes the devil is in the detail.
Operators dislike uncertainty, and we really want to know as soon as possible when the new regulations will apply. Although I also understand that there are certain processes that need to be followed that are beyond the control of the MGA.
Many iGaming operators comment that compliance and regulation are among their biggest challenges.
Do you share this view? Having said that, I am more of a realist than an alarmist. Firms are already familiar with Data Protection Regulations, and many have policies and practices in this regard.
In my opinion, it is not a question of reinventing the wheel, but more of adapting and fine-tuning. Some companies say that they find it difficult to find the balance between AML and data protection and are concerned regarding potential crossborder issues.
Are these concerns justified? AML places an obligation on entities to carry out due diligence, and in doing so collect and process personal data.
In contrast, GDPR seeks to limit the personal data collected and processed. GDPR will bring on new cross-border challenges and complications, where Data Protection Commissioners in multiple countries may be handling the same complaint.
Compliance departments of iGaming companies have grown and become much more important today than they were a few years ago.
Although the industry was initially hesitant, I believe that in the medium to long-term this will serve as an opportunity to remove certain stigmas and perceptions.
Consolidation is already happening, and this will lead to an industry with fewer and larger players. Innovation and technology have always been at the heart of the iGaming industry.
As the players continue to grow and mature, greater emphasis will be placed on efficiency. I expect to see greater investment and initiatives in the automation of operational processes, reducing cost and improving player experience.
Understanding customers through business intelligence and data analysis will also continue to play a critical part in product innovation, personalisation and optimisation.
On the other hand, I would really like to see in the near future, a solution to the multi-jurisdictional regulatory regime within the EU. This is currently overly testing on compliance departments, and probably adds little value to the bottom line.
At the end of the day, there needs to be greater mutual respect, cooperation and recognition between regulatory authorities. I strongly believe that Malta can play a key role in realising this vision.
Melita has grown into the leading quadruple play provider in Malta. We are market leaders for TV services, we deliver approximately half of all broadband Internet connections in Malta and now also have more than , active mobile subscribers.
Over recent years Melita has completed substantial infrastructure investments. Together with the investments of our competitors these have enabled Malta to be placed at the top of the European charts for next-generation broadband coverage.
We have invested in a nationwide 3G mobile network, a submarine cable connecting Malta to mainland Europe, the construction of a tier III state-of-the-art data centre for co-location and hosting services, as well as the roll-out of Melita WIFI — the next-generation WiFi service providing seamless superfast connectivity across Malta and Gozo.
We had plans to join forces with Vodafone Malta but decided not to go ahead with the merger as we were unable to meet the conditions stipulated by the competition authority.
However, this decision does not really affect our future plans, and we will continue investing in our network. You recently said that Malta will soon have the strongest and fastest telecoms network in Europe.
Can you tell us more about your plans and priorities? Malta already has a very strong telecoms infrastructure, and we want to build on this.
In Malta we have recently introduced gigabit speed internet. Malta will soon have a gigabit infrastructure on the fixed side everywhere, and this is something very unique.
We will see it rolled out in many urban areas but not in the entire nation. On the mobile side, Malta has three networks, two of which are currently already quite advanced.
Now we will invest significantly in our network as well and upgrade it to the latest 4. Even 5G is around the corner. I can very well imagine that Malta will be the first country to deploy 5G in Europe, and we are expecting this to happen in or We will also further invest in our connectivity to Europe.
Our international connections to the big Internet Exchange points on the continent are exceeding Gbps now and will soon be fully redundant with the use of multiple carriers on land, as well as full redundancy over a second undersea cable.
I think it is fair to say that traditionally many companies used to look first at what our competitor GO, and in particular their data centre, had on offer.
But we are firmly committed to strengthening our B2B offering, and the upgrade of our data centre was just the first step.
Over the past years, we invested quite significantly in our datacentre, and this has put us in a very strong position. These investments have helped us to attract some well-known brands in the gaming industry.
Can you tell us more about the data centre services? We have recently extended our data centre and effectively doubled our capacity.
Our data centre has been built to Tier III specifications and covers a fully fenced footprint of 10, m2.
This means the facility is also the largest and most unique of its kind in Malta. The take-up has been quite positive with client racks hosted doubling year on year.
We run a mature and nationwide fibre optic network and provide our data centre peers with leading Tier 1 providers. We offer access to redundant submarine cable links towards mainland Europe, as well as private leased circuits for international pointto-point Ethernet connections.
Not only do we score high in terms of diversity of access, but we are also very quick. For instance, in the past it used to take between three to six months to deliver a circuit from Malta to Milan.
Due to our recent investment, it now only takes a couple of weeks. This is of particular interest to gaming companies who need their own secure route.
Many companies comment on the high cost of bandwidth in Malta. I can say that as soon as we introduced our own submarine cable and our own data centre, we forced the cost per megabit down drastically.
Some customers may still view bandwidth costs as high as they are still tied to legacy agreements with other providers, which are a result of a time when the infrastructure in Malta was less well developed and Malta had less competition.
We are always happy to talk to igaming and other companies and help them reduce their hosting and connectivity costs.
When compared to mainland providers it is also fair to say that Maltese operators do face additional costs when delivering connectivity because Malta is an island.
Melita owns the infrastructure as far as to Sicily, but from then onwards we need to buy access, so we have very little influence on pricing.
Most companies see cost as a whole. The slightly higher cost of the broadband as a result of being far away from mainland Europe is cushioned by the fact that operations here generally cost less.
It is also a fact that on the retail and the business side we offer a competitive packages comparable to European pricing. In terms of bandwidth, the question is always how much sharing the business can accept.
Do you see a way that Malta could become, while not the cheapest in Europe, still a competitive option? We are approaching another digital transformation with the Internet of Things IoT , and Malta is a great place for trials and testing of new technologies considering the level of connectivity available and the incentives that the government is putting in.
Businesses are increasingly using remote workers. How can Melita help companies connect and manage this mobile workforce? In Malta, companies can get our 1Gig internet speed at home.
If they are based in another location somewhere in the world, we would usually advise to set up a virtual private network VPN , which will be the most cost-effective solution.
One segment that I think will see massive improvements in the coming years is customer care. I joined 18 months ago and since then, we have already made huge improvements.
I also have no doubt that we will drastically improve the telecoms infrastructure. We have always stated that we are committed to our plans, no matter whether the merger with Vodafone goes ahead or not.
In addition to our own plans, I think we also need to look at bringing more telecoms infrastructure underground.
This requires a joint effort by all stakeholders. Responsibility The iGaming industry can be difficult to navigate due to its ever-changing regulatory landscape.
Operators have to focus not only on their legal responsibilities, but they also have to act ethically says Dr Ian Gauci, Co-Founder of Afilexion Alliance.
What gap in the market do you seek to fill? At that time, we realised that while both firms were already amongst the leading mid-tier firms in their respective fields, our combined expertise and experience created exponential value to our clients.
Today, Afilexion Alliance has one of the most comprehensive advisory and support services portfolios for gaming regulators and law makers, gaming operators, gaming platform providers, affiliates and service providers to the gaming industry.
We focus on areas such as corporate law and services, insurance, administrative law, taxation, gaming, data protection, technology law, cryptocurrencies and blockchain, as well as fintech and regtech.
Coupled with a strong litigation department and our business-focused approach, this enables us to provide a degree service to our technology clients, which is something few other outfits are able to offer on the market.
From a legal point of view, what are the biggest issues that your iGaming clients are dealing with at the moment? Undoubtedly the diverse laws, regulations, risk parameters and compliance obligations in the different countries they operate in.
This ultimately boils down to disproportionate costs because of lack of harmonisation. The 4th AML directive brings about more focus on evidencedriven and risk-based approaches to AML and counterterrorist financing.
The gaming operators will build upon their existing AML compliance programmes and put more focus on applying technology and effective indicators for a robust risk-based approach.
From this angle, I see this as an evolution of what they were already doing, especially for those operators licensed in Malta and the UK, who de facto were already following the 3rd AML framework.
It could also improve confidence in customers and transactions, and thus potentially pave the way for a better understanding and appreciation of the gaming industry by banks.
Can you give us a brief overview of the regulation and what operators should do now to prepare for it? The current data protection regulation already aims to strike a balance between individual privacy rights while still allowing data to be used for business purposes.
The GDPR builds on this premise when it comes into force on 25 May , but it also brings significant changes to the existing data protection regime.
For instance, the data subject — the player of an online casino — will be empowered with extended rights and remedies and afforded more protection, while there will be more obligations on Data Processors and Data Controllers.
The territorial scope has been increased, while regulators and data subjects will be notified of data breaches. There will be a requirement in certain instances to appoint a Data Protection Officer, as well as hefty fines for noncompliance.
My advice to operators would be to implement these data-subject centric criteria as part of corporate governance. This needs to be translated in a living privacy programme, which needs to be nurtured and updated constantly from May onwards.
Responsible marketing is becoming ever more important. The UK has come down hard on iGaming companies and forced them to remove characters that could appeal to children.
I fully endorse this step, but operators also need to grow up and take on more responsibility, and be more ethical and prudent in what they do, as well as more savvy.
If these criteria were followed, there would have been no need for the bad publicity dished on UK media, which is harming the whole gaming industry and a knee-jerk reaction to mitigate the damage.
From our end, we always advised our UK-licensed gaming clients to fully respect advertising guidelines, and we are glad that our clients appreciated our advice, and consequently are not affected negatively by the recent regulatory moves.
However, my advice would be that a gaming company should act prudently, reasonably and responsibly. Where something is wrong and disproportionate, even though not clearly illegal or unlawful, they should avoid it.
In my view gaming companies, particularly given the highly technological background, stand to benefit immensely by tapping into the whole new ecosystem, which Malta wants to endorse and officialise.
The benefits could be endless. Blockchain, given that it is foundational technology, may bring about a new paradigm in the gaming industry starting from innovative payment methods, and the day-to-day running of their business; to regulatory compliance, and innovative services, as well as more robust security and trust parameters.
In terms of crypto-payments, what are the key challenges and opportunities for iGaming companies? Cryptocurrencies will undoubtedly bring about innovative facets for the gaming industry, for payments and settlements, intelligent and legitimate funding and innovation through ICOs, as well as massive cost savings.
There are also however some challenges. Given that cryptocurrencies are not yet regulated and harmonised, nor are they seen as regulated legal tender, they create a grey area for operators, players and also authorities.
This also means it will be difficult for gaming operators to comply with AML regulations. There are also other factors which can have negative effects on the gaming companies, such as: How do you expect the industry to develop in Malta and globally in the coming years?
In your opinion, what is most important in order to be successful in the iGaming industry today? Over the years the online gaming sector evolved and transformed itself.
I see a lot of commonalities with sectors like telecommunications and the financial services industries. The online gaming industry has become more cut-throat, sophisticated and structured, as well as fast-paced.
My advice to whoever wants to make a real positive impact in this industry today is to have a thorough understanding of the dynamics of the industry, as well as the regulatory terrain and new value streams.
Plan well, build a strong knowledge of regulatory approaches and lead by innovation. Augmented Reality Kostandina Zafirovska of Btobet is convinced that Augmented Reality will shortly become an important tool for iGaming companies and urges operators not to underestimate the level of innovation that is required to stay ahead in this industry.
BtoBet is a multinational company with 20 years of experience in IT, software development, telecommunication and e-commerce; we widely invest in technology research and development.
BtoBet is a true partner in technology, offering a standalone platform and services for the iGaming and sports betting industry.
BtoBet allows licensees to be unique and stand out in the market, giving them the possibility to personalise their offers through a stable, flexible and scalable cloud-based platform, tailored for sports betting and iGaming business, both online and mobile.
We aim to expand a lot over the next few years, and for this reason we still consider ourselves as a start-up, even though we have grown a lot, especially during We now employ people and have offices in Macedonia, Serbia, Italy and Malta.
Malta hosts the commercial and marketing centre. We are driven by the desire to challenge industry standards and perspectives when it comes to innovation and technologies.
Our platform is supported by Artificial Intelligence — a form of machine learning — and a sophisticated Recommendation Engine.
The system collects and analyses player data, behaviour, activities and preferences, and then predicts what players would like to bet on next and makes suggestions.
The software basically guides the operator to make the best decision for the management, acquisition and retention of players.
We also developed our platform as a B2B product, whereas platforms. The privacy of players is something very delicate and sensitive and operators must be very attentive when choosing their technological partner.
BtoBet is a trusted technology partner for operators seeking a reliable platform provider that has the capability to aggregate all the available content while providing players with a seamless customer journey.
Can you explain this a bit more? We still see very little automation in the iGaming industry, and staff spend countless hours monitoring player behaviour.
The innovation of AI, in combination with the Recommendation Engine, enables operators to automatically cluster users according to their interests and preferences, manage them across all channels and provide them with cross-channel marketing solutions.
This system also automatically identifies potential fraud and notifies the operator, allowing licensees to take actions promptly, guaranteeing more secure and automatic business management, thus cutting the costs compared to manual labour.
Players today are pretty tech savvy. The millennial generation is entering the iGaming market, and although most companies are targeting them, only a few are fully embracing the latest digital trends and developments.
I am pretty sure that we will soon see Augmented Reality AR playing a greater role in the industry. I think both operators and suppliers often underestimate the level of innovation that will be required in the future to stay relevant.
The iGaming industry has changed significantly over the past five years and navigating that landscape has become much more complicated.
There is so much more content available, and there are so many new regulations to follow. This means setting up is not only time-consuming, but also a costly exercise, and it gets even more complicated if an operator wants to target players in three to four different markets.
The technology nowadays is advanced and the development of a technological platform takes some years. New entrants will probably achieve more with less money and in a shorter time frame.
For this reason, they should choose a robust platform and reliable technological partner, allowing them to focus more on their operations.
What role do you believe AR will play in the industry? Inhabiting a fully-immersive computer-generated world is a seductive idea.
AR is changing the gaming industry and creating interactive entertainment, offering players an extremely appealing gaming involvement in response to their desire for a new and exciting gaming experience.
Sectors such as automotive, e-commerce and trading are already implementing AR in their systems by adopting AR combined with geo-positioning.
In this way, they guide consumers while choosing products and offering them a more enjoyable buying experience.
There is no reason the iGaming sector cannot do the same. Entering markets in Africa and Latin America has long been on your priority list.
Which markets have you entered already and what was the strategy driving this decision? The domestic betting markets have changed in a very dramatic way, and the evolution of the mobile payment system is influencing the growth of sports betting in African regions.
We are expanding our business in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Nigeria with wide growing potential for the sports betting industry. Kenya differs from other African countries and represents the place where mobile betting has seen the largest expansion to the detriment of retail.
Additionally, I firmly believe that the widespread use of mobile payment is changing the landscape of retail business in Kenya and in other Eastern African countries such as Tanzania and Uganda.
At the moment, Western African regions are not enjoying the same technology payment and mobile evolution as the East side, but they will get there too.
What markets still offer growth opportunities? Africa still has a lot of potential for European companies, including small markets such as Botswana.
However, I think one has to be quick and enter within the next two years before the market will become saturated. South America should also be looked into since it is still developing.
We are now eagerly waiting for Brazil to issue regulations. Our target by is to make a massive impact on the market as a reliable technological partner in the iGaming and sports betting industry worldwide.
From this perspective we are working on getting licences in new markets in Latin America and Europe. She has over 17 years of experience in Computer Science Engineering.
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Stronger Ties between Video Gaming and iGaming David Hawkins, Managing Director of Exient, says that if iGaming companies want to offer a more entertaining experience to their players, they should look to the video-gaming industry for inspiration.
Can you tell us a bit about Exient and explain what type of games you produce? Exient has been around since the year and throughout the years we have produced games for the biggest brands within the industry, including Fifa, Need for Speed, The SIMS, Angry Birds and many more.
Many game developers have one big title in their portfolio; we have around We still do that, but in more recent times we are also taking out licences ourselves.
We also work with an iGaming company: They have a product called Power up Poker. We did all the visuals for it, but did not do any of the coding or games design.
Based on your experience, what can the videogaming industry bring to the iGaming industry? First of all, our visual and audio quality typically is much higher compared to the standards of the iGaming sector.
We tend to be inspired by movie quality reproduction and aim for that in our productions. Also, we are very focused on the user experience.
I think the iGaming community could take advantage of our experience in this regard. We tend to develop games at a much faster pace than the iGaming industry.
We need to know very quickly if a game is going to be successful and have to adopt a fail-fast approach. We are also a bit quicker in game development because our industry is not regulated.
Many iGaming companies want to make their products more social, fun and appealing, but often face regulatory constraints. From my experience in video games we observe that children want to grow up quickly, and a mature character can be as appealing to them as cartoon characters can be.
In fact, they often like mature characters more because they represent what they aspire to be.
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The response from the informal sessions has been great. Chippy, the Responsible Gaming Mascot, had a great influence on the learning of the children and the understanding of the concept of responsible gaming.
Such efforts are aligned with the main principle of gaming regulation in Malta, namely that gaming shall be conducted in a fair and transparent manner, minors and vulnerable persons are protected, and that gaming is kept free from crime and corruption.
In order to achieve these objectives the RGF embarked on various projects such as the education. The Helpline is the first national helpline that is dedicated to dealing and providing support to problematic gamblers and their relatives.
The call-centre is an integral part of our operations because it is the bridge between problematic gamblers and their relatives with the Foundation.
The personnel of the call-centre are given regular training and exercises in order to maintain and improve their standard of professionalism when it comes to dealing with the sensitive calls that the Helpline receives.
Spanning over m2, the casino includes slots machines, 2 electronic roulette tables, 29 casino and poker tables and also a sports betting area.
Casino Malta is designed and operated with entertainment and luxury as its primary focus, with many quality events organised throughout the week.
The casino also includes 2 large bars, one of which is 10 meters long. Their stage hosts local and international live bands, cabaret shows and other entertainers, replicating the very best of Vegas.
Whilst focusing on client service, Casino Malta has definitely created a new scene for tourists and Maltese locals alike.
With a lounge area and all kind of table games including roulette, BJ, Mini Punto Banco and Casino Malta Poker, all premium clientele can enjoy playing in the comfort of a closed off room with exclusive service from dedicated dealers.
Players will also be assigned a waitress to ensure full food and drinks service. The VIP area also consists of a lounge area with 2 sofas and TVs, allowing players to relax and watch games on screen.
Casino Malta also allows players the ease of smoking in a specified, very well-ventilated indoor area, filled with slot machines, roulette tables and more.
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The conversation shifts to his brand. The name Join symbolizes the fusion of creative ideas and talented individuals.
It also symbolizes a point where traditional slot games meet innovation and disruptive technology — CineSlot and virtual reality, both of which have found their place in the Join Games portfolio.
Luigi explains that for the past year the company has been developing a suite of games that feature real live actors embedded in their slots, a feature which is seldom seen on any casino sites.
With the CineSlot concept the company has literally set up a recording studio in Rome and shoots talented actors in a green room, then embed optimized footage in the slot games.
Since the launch of the first CineSlot, the company is now accepting requests from operators for their custom CineSlot. In addition, his legal team is also working on patenting a unique feature that enables the slot button to be.
Finally, Luigi is looking more into gamification — his team of developers have gamified some of the slots in his portfolio, such as Zombie, making them more interactive.
Player retention is key and this gamification feature has really boosted their numbers. The company is merely two years and counting but the directors — Luigi Spina and Borut Leban - have over thirty years of combined experience.
It is important to have good graphics, innovative features, good mathematics as well as sterling B2B customer service. We have some unique algorithms that have been converting exceptionally well.
Players seem to play more often and for longer periods. But numbers aside, Luigi believes in maintaining strong working relationships based on professionalism and trust.
Only then can I look forward to more victory laps with operators as we file for more licenses and release new games into the market.
The world will recognise the name Mann as a notorious mercenary with an extremely chequered past. But to a gambling operator, that name should prompt a red flag in need of further investigation.
Such a scenario is an example of how the gambling industry is affected by wider geopolitical events, particularly when it relates to the policing of anti-money laundering AML and terrorist financing.
As Warren Russell, chief executive at web-based online screening tools provider W2, puts it, what was once best practice is now a regulatory requirement.
BSMART or the Batch Screening Monitoring and Reporting Tool screens international sanction lists, politically exposed person lists, global law enforcement notifications and wanted lists, disqualified directors and regulatory enforcement actions.
It is the product that would help an operator sort its mercenaries from its upstanding citizens, yet Pashley says concerns over increased compliance expenditure still abound.
Also, significant volume discounts can be applied. In recent times alone, we have improved our iconic slot games with a touch of fresh air brush , polished our Game Aggregation Platform GAP , opened a much-needed office in the heart of Asia, in Philippines, Manila and introduced new features for our well-performing mobile games, all for the sole enjoyment of our players and operators alike.
And if that is just one slice of the pie, imagine what we plan to do in the future! Things are moving fast in the online casino industry and we plan to stay ahead by continuing our innovation legacy.
Robo Smash is another state-of-the-art slot game, targeting the geek in all of us, an adventure that has pushed the concept of the classic slot game to new frontiers.
The jewel of the crown is unquestionably Paranormal Activity, an out-of Edward, tell us a bit more about your experience in the gaming scene; from consulting to operators, to running an affiliate network, and now running the brand Codeta.
I have been in this business ever since , starting off on the operator side of things and one has to say, these were the early days of igaming. Back then the opportunities were both very big in terms of reach, but also limited in terms of the marketplace itself and various legal obstacles to take into consideration.
Not because the law was extremely clear; on the contrary, most geomarkets had outdated laws but no one knew how to interpret them into. It was a very innovative time back then, where the winners were the fast-paced and innovative companies and individuals that quickly understood the massive opportunity that was in igaming post.
I was on the operator side of things up until , when I was at MD of Ladbrokes Poker, and my family and I decided to move back to Sweden.
As a matter of fact, the intention was purely for me to be able to work with gaming companies from a legal perspective again!
However, I quickly identified a need and an opportunity for the affiliate management background which I had as Affiliate Director of PokerRoom.
All igaming companies were still desperate for customers and who were the ones that could surely provide them? Fortunately, I knew them. So I started to hire people with similar backgrounds and the similar unique networks of contacts within the affiliate industry.
Suddenly, operators started to appreciate our way of business, which was basically a brokerage, rather than a network.
The difference in the fact that we broker a deal between affiliates we know - in order to make it suitable for the same affiliate.
Affiliates appreciate our expertise in the marketplace, i. Since we have grown into a substantial player on the market, we have also become a force within it.
Today, they see little promotion through Nordic affiliates and are clearly paying the price. If there is anything that I have learned after being in this industry for 14 years, it is the fact that this industry is still quite small, therefore; your biggest asset is your reputation.
Our unique approach, differentiating us from other casinos, was in the amount of research regarding marketplace and consumer insights.
Once this was completed, we decided on a game plan. Codeta was born, as was our positioning in becoming the leading global table games casino.
We were told you are the majority shareholder in this up and coming brand. What makes it unique? Combined years of experience? Our positioning and ambition of becoming THE table games casino.
I would actually go as far as saying that actually having and stating a positioning is unique. Perhaps with the exception of LeoVegas as a major mobile casino, we are quite unique.
Other factors that make us stand out include: With so many mergers and acquisitions, affiliation is becoming more and more expensive!
Do you think this is still the way to go in your case? You have a lot of experience in this field. Yes, we certainly feel an initial affiliate strategy is suitable for us, however, it is expensive and is not for everyone.
You need an even more experienced affiliate team now in order to find the value in a lot of deals, as there is definitely value out there. We will use our experience, our contacts and funding to initially gain proper traction for Codeta.
We will already after the summer, start doing begin with more traditional marketing investments, in the Nordics in particular.
As previously stated, our aim is to build Codeta into a proper brand. While building a brand, traditional, above the line marketing is also just as important.
Under which platform will you be operating and which markets will you be focusing on? Why did you go with this platform? Would you exclude working with other live tables besides Evolution?
We work both with Evolution Gaming and NetEnt in terms of live casino offerings. We will likely adopt others that deem themselves appropriate for the live casino experience.
Our selective nature for live Is there a large market for it? Can you give us some numbers? We see a great opportunity in taking a leading position within Live Casino.
Was it easy raising 2M? What made the investors trust your startup? A long working relationship? Do you have any feedback to give to budding entrepreneurs who would like to take off with their own venture?
Considering that we have never raised investments before, I would say yes! We managed to secure the investment in less than 4 weeks. The investors decision relied upon several factors, however, the most important were: You also engaged LynxEye Brand Consultants.
Has this been an integral ingredient so far? Yes, they have been and still are. We used them to conduct the research into our target group and understand them properly in terms of what drives them to play, what they seek, what they miss, etc.
Once we had that, we have worked closely with them to fine-tune our positioning and understand what we need to deliver and focus on.
This is continuous work and Lynxeye is and will be a long-term partner of ours. You are based in Stockholm.
Ever thought of relocating to other jurisdictions? And if yes, which cities do you find attractive as a base for gaming?
Yes, we are based here and will continue to be based here at least until we get our own license, as we now use an Everymatrix license.
I also think that the more we can have the people with and for Codeta gathered under one roof, the better as our journey has only begun, not only as a company but also as a brand.
The mission of Ganapati is to spread Japanese Culture worldwide. How are you embarking on such an ambitious and exciting project?
It was natural for us to focus on Japanese culture because it was something very familiar to us and has so many aspects to be explored; from the rich traditional culture to the modern-day anime and manga culture.
Only a selective amount of our culture has made it out of Japan into the rest of the world — there is so much more to share!
Your company has the backing from the Japanese Government - how has this partnership been instrumental? The Japanese government for the last few years has been quite proactively promoting Japanese culture, through a very strict system of authentication.
We are happy that, even though there is still stigma attached to gambling in Japan, the Japanese government was able to acknowledge the potential in our business model, which goes above and beyond a basic distribution business.
We wanted to spread Japanese culture through something that is already well integrated into everyday life in Europe.
The igaming industry was ideal in a sense that it is well regulated, integrated into everyday life and is a place that our products will be well appreciated.
Which markets have been more receptive to embracing Japanese culture in general and how has your ideas and concepts been received?
We have had such a great reception from everyone we met and spoke to there. I cannot say which markets have been more receptive because we received a lot of positive feedback from the operators and suppliers that service in all markets across the globe.
Everyone seems very interested in Japanese culture and the unique aspects we can bring to the games, which is extremely encouraging.
We even met a few manga and anime fans which show how popular Japanese culture is outside of Japan. Our ideas and concepts have been received well and I am determined to bring those aspects to this industry for all of our enjoyment and entertainment.
How are your games promoting Japanese culture? What are the features of your games that showcase Japanese culture in a unique way?
We will be focusing on the traditional side of Japanese culture, the arts and the graphics, as well as closing up on the more recent culture which has gained more popularity worldwide through games and anime culture.
Our designated staff, well equipped in both Japanese and European culture inside and out, will determine what content will be best to represent Ganapati and what aspects of Japanese culture would be the most interesting to share with the European market.
What ideas have you been implementing to promote your games? Why do you feel your content is different? In the past, content with a supposed Japanese feel has not really represented the true culture which we feel we are able to deliver on.
We are working with top creators in studios in Hollywood and Japan to deliver high-quality 3D imagery on our games.
As a new entrant to the online gaming industry, what do you feel you will add to the industry as a whole?
Whilst we may be new to the industry we have a good understanding of what the end user likes and understands.
We believe our products and brands have an association with the consumer which is hard to replicate unless it comes direct from the creators with which we have relationships.
We have a team of talented game developers and can use the technology in Japan to continually create content which I believe has not yet been seen in the industry yet.
Can you tell us a bit about the background of the company and yourself? Ganapati Plc has been around for two years now. We have several business entities worldwide already providing social apps and other services.
The gaming industry is an area we have looked at since our infancy, however it is only recently that we have decided to make an entrance into the market place.
With this in mind, we had to ensure we were able to support the product and the industry through proper means, which required employing the right team and gaining the right knowledge.
We are now in a position to launch our first products in the gaming industry. Tell us about your roadmap for your games.
How do you intend to distribute your products and when will you be ready to launch on to market?
We have three games ready for distribution just after ICE in Feb These games will be Japanese-themed slot games which will showcase our animators and technology and various aspects of Japanese culture.
After this initial release, we will be releasing our other games which are in the production schedule. For the first year our main theme will be the Japanese-style fighting games and from there our content will continue to diversify and grow, but continue to share the uniqueness of Japanese culture and technology through each game and deliver high quality imagery.
Despite being new to the iGaming sector, I have extensive experience in the entertainment industry and have been enjoying the exploration of this new avenue.
Love the island, love the guys doing it. The bustling city stutters, slows down, there is a mood change, a change in pace. Should I have gone earlier?
Should I have taken the train? We start to ask ourselves what we could have done or should have done, to reduce the interruptions to our day.
Is there a way of knowing what is expected, or could happen? What has this got to do with regulations and compliance you may ask? Dubai would obviously not have the same climate risks as London or Paris, though the sand storms are said to be wicked and totally disruptive.
Regulations, standards, best practices, together with globalisation through the Internet has had an effect on practically every industry in some way or another.
If you are in the food business, such as a restaurant, you have to comply with various health and food safety regulations.
When Malta introduced the Remote Gaming Regulations in , I would not be exaggerating if I were to state that the RGRs of Malta revolutionised the way the online gaming industry operated and brought jobs and funds to Malta and the EU.
A newly regulated industry was born. However, regulation has also developed and affected the industry. Different jurisdictions with different regulatory requirements probably cause the biggest headaches to operators.
Thankfully there are people out there who understand this and are working, when possible, for standardised requirements.
Responsible Remote Gambling Measures. Now there is a workshop that is working on the standardisation of reporting requirements for gaming companies.
These measures should simplify compliance requirements in these two areas at EU level for gaming operators. A blue patch in the grey sky and some sun rays bursting through.
The thick fog engulfing this bustling city and causing limited visibility I would say are the VAT regulations governing electronic services that started to affect the industry in January Compliance is made simpler when the rules are clear, however, VAT rules are unclear when it comes to gaming transactions with advice provided by experts not always providing the same conclusions and solutions.
The same can be said, to a lesser extent, about gaming tax calculations in some jurisdictions. It was said, a few years ago, that the drive by EU countries to nationalise licensing of gaming operators would lead to the destruction of liquidity based games such as poker, bingo, betting exchanges, etc.
This prediction came through and poker networks have taken a huge blow. Now there is an attempt to allow countries to share liquidity by permitting players from one jurisdiction to play on a network licensed in another jurisdiction.
I can predict once again that the main stumbling block will be gaming taxes and who will collect them. Taxes have been the main reason for the insistence by jurisdictions to go against the EU treaty and exclude gaming from the.
Of course, they could not say that, so they came up with unfounded accusations against the industry, such as fraud and money laundering, and a danger to public order.
But that is another story, that storm has come and gone. Back to compliance and what gaming companies have to contend with.
We have to look at the weather forecast and rely on what the meteorological office says. Some fines can be quite high and can be linked to noncompliance with AML and responsible gambling or advertising.
Partly cloudy in the morning, with strong possibilities of rain during the day. The main condition is licence Condition We still do not know what other jurisdictions will be doing in relation to this Directive and it is hoped that in this sensitive matter there is more or less a standard approach by the Authorities.
I am anticipating that the results will be in conflict with the rubbish that has been thrown about at EU level, and conveniently believed, about the high risks from online gambling and betting in relation to AML and CFT!
The 3rd Directive on Data Protection is another regulation that gaming operators have to be aware of. Penalties are expected to be exceptionally high and a proportion of the profit, but also based on the number of employees.
So if you run a loss making company and have or fewer employees you should be relatively compliant or at least not risk hefty fines. Joking apart, gaming operators should not be too worried about this unless they intend on abusing player data, which they do not normally do.
The main issues are always data retention and satisfying the different statutory requirements and system limitations.
In a nutshell, I would say that all data should be held at least for five years after closure of the account, after that, well, it is pretty much debatable.
We do not need to contemplate death as Hamlet did in his famous soliloquy; compliance is not that bad once you get used to it, like the weather in London, or the heat of Dubai.
The important thing about compliance is knowing what you need to be compliant with and then invest in the right people and tools to ensure that you have an effective compliance strategy.
Too often companies think that by creating a compliance role and implementing basic policies they have satisfied the requirements. If compliance is not built into the workflow and you do not have the right processes and tools for effective monitoring, then at some point or another, the company will fail in its obligations.
Check the weather forecast, select the preferred route, mode of transport, attire, check again and then head out.
A structured approach to compliance is required. Plan, Do, Check, Act in a recurring cycle. Anyone familiar with ISO Standards will recognise this approach.
ISO has once again, like with so many other issues, provided a standard that can be followed. Look up ISO You do not need to get certified, but it will provide you with the approach and structure to tackle a role and responsibility that gets more complex by the day.
Get a good umbrella and boots and do not buy a convertible. The chosen tool should be adaptable, should not interfere with the customer experience, should not give you too many false positives and should give you the desired results i.
Ideally, a single tool that satisfies all your requirements and is not too labour intensive would be preferred. It is difficult but very possible to find such tools.
You cannot fight compliance, you cannot avoid it, so you must manage it properly, not once but constantly. Where you do not have the resources internally, either in number or in knowledge and skill, outsource to a competent third party, but do not ignore, for, like the weather, it will not go away.
It has been a year since the European Union approved its Fourth Money Laundering Directive and there is one year to go for the closing of the transposition period.
Promoting such culture requires a firm board commitment and inclusion of AML as a component of good corporate governance at obliged entities is an important requirement at Gaming entities.
Directors should invest time and dedication in order to attain an effective culture change. The purpose of this article is to present the main pillars that the directors should put in place for this project which are: Communication, Leadership and Control.
The directors should challenge and assess whether the policies, procedures and processes, are commensurate with the business risks and can effectively mitigate the money laundering risks.
For the everyday implementation, the Board should consider the delegation of this important project to a dedicated working committee. In smaller entities an individual could be appointed to oversee this project, and where necessary assisted by external expert consultants.
Whatever the type of set-up opted, the Board of Directors should ensure that the persons that are involved in this project are not only knowledgeable on the subject and on the regulatory requirements but actually have hands-on experience on AML.
Also, the MLRO that will be appointed is suitably qualified to lead the AML function following the coming into force of this legislation and is able to manage the AML risk efficiently and effectively.
In addition, such individuals must be of an independent mind and should be provided with the right opportunity to positively challenge the system.
Of course one cannot underestimate the importance of resources and the directors should actively support the provision of appropriate budgets both at the implementation of the project but in support of ongoing AML requirements.
Repercussions of non-compliance clearly outweigh any perceived nuisance that comes with adhering to the policy. The final AML Policies and Procedures need to be easily accessible and in this regard the use of intranet systems are a good option to consider.
Internal circulars should at least cover the need to comply with AML and such messages will have a higher weighting if this is issued directly by the Chief Executive Officer, for example, or by board members collectively.
This important process will assist in understanding the drivers that are helping or hindering the right culture and good governance.
However, it makes sense that any controls are calibrated. Too many controls and restrictions can hinder the business and might be excessive to the type of money laundering risk at hand.
On the other hand, high money laundering risk situations call for enhanced due diligence and appropriate controls. Moreover, at each stage of this project and also post-implementation the directors need to reassess whether the control processes are efficient and effective to manage money laundering risk.
At AML project implementation, this needs to be presented by its respective Chairman of the working group or the person responsible on this project.
As part of the AML regulatory requirements and post-implementation, the MLRO should be then the person responsible for presenting such report.
During such reviewing and discussion, the Directors, in particular those occupying non-executive roles need to ask themselves whether the confirmations provided are actually closing the relative compliance gaps and where need be, they should constructively challenge the system as part of this exercise.
Another important aspect that needs to be considered are the control functions such as compliance and internal audit.
Whilst noting the latter, the engagement of a compliance officer at senior management is a mandatory regulatory requirement in terms of the Fourth Money Laundering Directive.
Going back on the principles of leadership, the knowledge and experience of persons engaged in this function is of the essence in ensuring that good filters are in place.
On the other hand, the high financial repercussions and reputational damages brought by non-compliance could put the entity at stake and Directors cannot continue to disregard this requirement and cannot afford to postpone this further.
Moreover, a sensible and intelligent approach to AML achieved through proper governance can really have a positive culture change.
Do I teach how to hack a WordPress site? You better believe it! Want to know how to run a constant DDOS attack or get a website de-indexed?
I have two problems with this criticism: Knowing what the competitors may be doing to hurt your income and having the ability to protect yourself should be a no-brainer.
Secondly, I do the work for the big guys and Affiliates do the work themselves. Anything that increases rankings essentially qualifies for BlackHat status.
Are the other hundreds of dating sites they compete against doing aggressive BlackHat or is eHarmony actually doing something to cause these? There are many causes, ranging from auto-pay issues to fake profiles.
Every dating site has them. Similar to cheats in online gambling, or Amazon con games that give step-by-step instructions for the Dark Net.
You can either be proactive or reactive. Guess which one is much more expensive? The most popular tactics which manipulate review websites are lesser used tactics although very effective , like subdomain and subdirectory attacks.
These people are relentless and will stop at nothing to feel vindicated. As an Affiliate you have competition, as an Operator you have competition and Affiliates to contend with.
In many cases, they have absolutely zero Engagement as well. Most Brand-Bashing is a result of an unhappy customer that can be made happy. Payroll - what it costs to be reactive and pay staff to handle negative sentiment rather than spend their valuable time proactively creating positive sentiment and a game plan for engagement and retention.
Payoffs - many clients have elected to offer a payoff or return what this person spent. Repeat Offenders - They did it once. Legal - The last and most expensive result.
At best, it means they got your attention and are even more motivated. In the worst cases, it could even mean litigation or case filing costs.
They can learn how to do it themselves on YouTube or they can pay someone to do it for them. Below are the most common techniques used to steal your real estate: Later, host it on a server in your target geographic region and start building links on some of your other sites using your brand as anchor text, or not.
An even more seriously nasty tactic that is used along with the next one Wordpress Hacking is when these guys find a WP security hole and exploit k sites running WP or a certain plugin, and then through this newly created back-end access, they add a hidden page the website owner never sees, but the Search Engine Spiders can see.
Take the easily obtained code and place it alongside the code of the old plugin. Note the differences and employ a good WP guy to find a vulnerability.
From here, you can get into the site and change or delete pages, add a no-index command and get completely purged from search results.
Negative Link Buys - Everyone knows you can buy good links, but you can also buy bad links. Alternatively, you can use SEOMoz or Ahrefs and get a trust rank comparison and just choose the de-indexed, penalized or porn sites to post a link to you or the ranking page you have in the search results that you want gone.
You can use one of the many free tools available to target keywords. DomainTools will email you whenever someone buys a domain with one of these keywords in the URL.
Someone sets up a domain sniper that will automatically buy these domains for a few dollars. Now that person owns YourWebsite.
They carry a lot of trust with Google and the other search engines. Add to this to the powerhouse presence Social Media has become and the real estate thins significantly.
The Defense - Fortunately, most of these tactics can be proactively prevented from happening. They paid a friend of a friend to install a Wordpress site and it is still running an antiquated version of Wordpress, the theme or a plugin.
But not updating it will just invite another attack. Subdirectory Hijacking - This can happen on a private network of their own, or on lots of sites running Wordpress but not updating them or installing SiteLock or taking other security measures.
Negative Link Buys - Run a tool that analyses your backlinks once a week. Create a disavow file. Automated Tools and BlackHat Networks - Because of the sheer number of tools and techniques widely available to the people looking for them, these networks and tools they use are constantly evolving.
Review Websites - I despise these sites. I despise them like I despise decaffeinated coffee and people who give me road rage. But alas, these are some things I cannot change.
You must be prepared and have your Social Media and CRM people working together with your Rep Management people to proactively reduce your risk and exposure.
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They say prevention is better than cure and we encourage you to be on guard against negative SEO tactics. Key takeaways from the search theme analysis, as shown in Figure 1: Trended gambling search themes December November Source: Rather than focussing on search volume alone, we have applied our Organic Value Score to discover the brands with greatest market share across the highest value commercial terms.
Casino — In the most valuable vertical of casino, Skyvegas. Bingo — In bingo, shown in Figure 3, GalaBingo. Referrers also command a higher share of organic search value in the bingo vertical than in casino, with WhichBingo.
Affiliates such as Pokerlistings, Cardschat and Top10pokersites. PI Datametrics Gamma Report rocketbingo.
For more information and a demo, please visit www. Even the biggest igaming companies all have their own design teams, which include user experience UX designers.
My journey over the past five years has taken me on a long, winding road that started with SEO, then led me down the path of conversion rate optimisation CRO , which in turn then led me to UX design.
Part of the reason you may see dated sites do well despite looking ugly is because they have quality content, they format their site properly and sometimes that ugly look earns the trust of the user.
Sketch is the new standard of website design and it is a faster tool for creating designs. I can make websites faster in Sketch than I can in Photoshop and once you start using Sketch it is impossible to use Photoshop again to design websites.
Sketch is also extremely fast and easy to make website wireframes and layouts with before you apply a design. No doubt there are amazing website designers out there still using Photoshop, but when I know a designer is using Sketch, I know they are an up-to-date designer.
I treat it like a filter for talent. As much as I use Sketch as a filter for finding good UX designers, I think by the end of the year more and more designers will be using Sketch.
Therefore, using Sketch as a keyword filter for finding talent will become less relevant. By limiting yourself to only Sketch designers, you would be cutting off a massive part of the world that uses Windows.
When searching for designers or posting a job, mention Sketch as a required skill. Put mobile UX first Just making a website responsive is not good enough anymore.
That should be done on a phone. The process of buying a lottery ticket will be mainly a mobile thing. Knowing how important mobile is, it is important to map out the entire user experience for mobile users and put more emphasis on your mobile design than you do for your desktop design.
With design tools like Sketch, it makes it much easier to have your mobile designs alongside the desktop version — so your only excuse for not doing mobile wireframes and designs would be laziness.
If you want to take your mobile user experience to the next level, you can prototype the entire experience with one of the numerous prototyping tools that exist.
These tools have come out of nowhere and they make mapping out your wireframe, layout and testing faster than previously possible. You could save your designers and programmers a lot of time by being able to provide an answer to how your entire mobile user experience should be.
One tool that is receiving a lot of praise is proto. Typography matters You may wonder if typography is really that important.
It is more important than you think and affects everything you do every day, including reading this article. Typography covers the choice of font, font colour, font size, typeface, line spacing and even line length.
Imagine if everything you read had ONLY this choice of font. If you start adjusting all of these aspects of your CSS for your website, you will definitely influence your website metrics such as bounce rate, time on site and pages per visitor.
Some examples of typography that will negatively impact your website include too many types of fonts used, too light of a font on a white background, similar fonts and backgrounds with too little contrast, and line spacing that is too large or too small.
To learn a bit more about typography check the Wikipedia https: When hiring a designer, ask if they include in their designs or have examples of typography UI kit in their portfolio.
Content marketing and formatting Maybe content marketing is a bit of a distraction from the point of this article, but if you are going to make the effort of making a site look good, make sure you also put effort into the quality of the content.
A good design is no mask for poor content. For some people that initial impression always makes a big difference. Giving your users a summary of your content with hotlinks and breaking things down into lists is what can elevate your content and make it more effective.
Their decision to read it all or not happens quickly. This takes us on to formatting your content. This is something that many websites totally miss the mark on.
Your site metrics such as bounce rate, time on site and pages per session will all be influenced by the formatting of your content.
Here is a quick checklist for your content formatting: It takes time to write a good article and it takes even more time to add in all the formatting.
Using bold, italics and underline helps to accent the important parts of your paragraphs. However, statistics show that users are more likely to click on links when available, and that means more time on your site and more pages for them to visit rather than leaving them high and dry and bouncing away.
In addition to adding more for a user to download and slowing down the website, my assumption is that part of the problem was that video is a distracting element.
The video would get users to watch what was happening but it was without sound and not much in the way of text.
The call to action becomes the furthest thing from their mind and you have a site that probably underperforms compared to one with a static image.
Regarding parallax scrolling sites, these were trendy in the past few years and you might see some examples of this on affiliate programme pages.
Ultimately, these have the same issue as the video background website — it impresses users, but at the expense of losing them from making the next step of signing up or getting to the next page.
The good and bad of affiliate sites Every so often I get asked for help on a website or network of websites that were once shining stars but have fallen from grace.
I have also seen the evolution of some affiliates and their network of websites. Many years of experience have given me enough insight to see what I think is important for affiliates to focus on for this year and beyond.
So here is my take on what some affiliates are either not doing right — or at all — and what others are doing that makes them more competitive. Surprisingly, I see more casino sites copying the Casumo design than SlotsMillion.
I expect its design to continue to be the most copied affiliate design out there for this year, much like in the past few years.
Slower loading websites are going to struggle to outrank faster loading websites. Not only is this an SEO problem, but slow loading websites will lead to lower sales, higher bounce rates and less page views.
Sites with thin content are eventually going to be outranked by sites with richer content. It helps to work smart but this all comes down to who hustles the most.
If your competitor is creating better content, and more of it, then they might be winning a slice of the pie at your expense. Both provide free software and there are many additional free templates which you can use.
You can find good Ghost templates at marketplace. There is also a large supply of free themes at github. If you are looking for a better design you can find numerous themes for either CMS at themeforest.
Finding a UX Designer If you have a budget and want a custom designed website then your job should be finding the right UX designer.
Good places to find talented designers include: By specifically searching for a UX designer rather than a website designer, you are going to notice a different skill set of applicants.
A designer will make your website how you ask for it, a good user experience designer will challenge you and ask tough questions help make sure you design the best site for your users.
You can post a job looking for UX designers or you can search for candidates. If you want great designers, search keywords and categories for UX, user experience design and maybe throw in Sketch as a keyword if you want designers who use Sketch.
If you need a designer, we can help and whatever the budget is, we can find a solution. By specifically searching for a UX designer rather than a website designer, you are going to notice a different skillset of applicants.
A designer will make your website how you ask for it, a good user experience designer will challenge you and ask tough questions to solve a problem to help your users.
Is it time for a new design? Look at the four casino portals listed below, all of which were redesigned in , and this should give you enough reasons to consider having your site redesigned.
Your designs should be an evolution of your site. He is the founder of adventures. He has launched many affiliate websites, focusing on both players and webmasters, and offers a unique webmaster coaching service.
While he wears many hats, his main focus is on UX design and conversion rate optimisation. This year looks set to be another eventful one for developments in search.
Switched-on marketers and agencies are always looking for a way to keep ahead of the curve, and will provide plenty of opportunities for those agile enough to embrace them.
Here are the key things on my radar for this year and some thoughts on how we as an industry may need to adapt to capitalise on them.
In basic terms; are we speaking to customers in the right way and giving our searchers what they want to see when they click?
Getting this right is critical to PPC performance and delivering efficiency. Mobile and voice will be an exciting year for mobile, especially with the launch of local ads in maps, promoted pins and an increase in searches happening through voice commands.
The key driver of mobile success this year will be to make the most of local traffic, by ensuring your campaigns are equally broken out by local store or physical location.
Get ahead by testing and trialing new products as soon as they release. Regardless of whether this turns out to be true, voice search is definitely becoming far more commonplace.
We now have, as standard, doubled the onscreen real estate for our messaging, with much more emphasis on paid ads than ever before.
The usual suspects This year will continue to showcase new products from the usual suspects, like image sitelinks, new extensions and possibly new audience-targeting options.
The key for me here is not just to use these new features, but really target and understand what messaging and which features will work best to help you achieve your goals.
Try not to just fill the space for the sake of it, but actually think about whether you are being relevant enough to the searcher.
There are lots of third-party tools out there to help bulk testing of ads if the task is daunting. Channel integration as a whole will need to be a key focus for marketing teams, not just with the obvious paid channels, like social and display, but also with SEO and CRO.
According to a study undertaken by McKinney, companies which invested in their digital capabilities and had multiple touch points were 2.
As the number of different touch points grows, developing an understanding of attribution is more important than ever — as the potential for opportunity grows, so does the potential for wastage.
Those who try, test and embrace the challenges of this rapidly changing discipline will quickly find themselves leading the pack and soon be looking forward to the evolutions and revolutions will inevitably bring.
All in all, an exciting year ahead! She is adept at utilising multiple channels to deliver best-in- class strategy and performance. The benefits of scale are very real, and the heavily funded affiliates with serious technology behind them are at a significant advantage in such a competitive environment.
Technology - There is a stronger need for advanced technologies than ever before, both on the yield management side as well as in media buying bidding, optimising, data management and so on.
Affiliates lacking these capabilities will be left behind. Those that have invested heavily in both their back end and optimisation system to be able to work in scale, and have a diversified revenue stream across different products and platforms, will have the edge.
Regulation - New gambling regimes are an opportunity for affiliates with the bandwidth to take advantage, founded on a combination of better offerings and products on the publishing side as well as know-how and tech to exploit new media opportunities in regulated environments.
Corporate governance - Given regulatory changes, we should see the larger players address regulatory issues and ensure they are working according to local laws.
So what will hold for the affi liate space? IGB Affi liate asked its carefully selected panel of experts for their predictions on the year ahead. COM I see being a fantastic year for sports betting affi liates.
TV advertising of gambling products pre-9pm will end with affi liates being the biggest winners, as some of the millions of pounds spent here is shifted to affi liates, who will show a far better return than TV.
This will be great news for most sports betting affi liates with a lower cost of sale, meaning accounts generated will become more profi table, and more quickly.
Many betting shops will be forced to close as stricter regulation on machines makes them less profi table, meaning even more attention will be diverted online and to sports betting affi liates.
COM should be a year of big movement in the igaming industry on all fronts. In addition, the igaming business itself will continue to change.
Once dominant brands such as William Hill look vulnerable and exposed now, so a big merger would protect them. I have seen a lot of strong, small brands built over the last three-to-four years and many are now ripe for acquisition.
The betting business should profit further from AI. However, there is a trend among affiliates towards self-built and tailored solutions, away from platforms such as WordPress.
Cross-platform tracking and additional ad-blocking will continue to be a headache for the operators and, of course, affiliates.
Getting to grips with voice search. Alexa and other assistants are only the beginning. Voice search needs one question and provides only one answer, eliminating the need to click links.
Engagement is the new currency. Do everything you can to be that engaging affiliate site people love. It is beneficial to monitor not only backlinks, but also reviews and mentions.
Due to high competition in the industry, some competitors will use negative SEO tactics, so make sure you monitor your backlinks profile daily.
Stay well away from any black hat techniques to avoid penalisation. Data-driven services will play greater role. IOT - Users will use more non-standard devices for internet browsing, smartwatches, ultra- wide smart TVs, fridges and ovens; make sure your website is cross-device compatible.
VR - We can officially call the year of virtual reality. There are many consumer- affordable VR devices: Consumers have not only started playing games and watching videos in VR, but are also about using it to browse the internet and use Google search.
Make sure you do not miss an opportunity to ride the VR wave. By utilising progressive web app technology you can achieve better user experience, superior visitor engagement and increased conversion rates.
Larger affiliates adopted this strategy in , and we can only expect more to do so this year. With newly inaugurated President Trump and his relationship to the industry, affiliates should keep a keen eye on the US market in The continuous collection of data and feedback from users and the ability of platforms to seamlessly adjust strategies to improve conversion rates remains as important as ever.
Ad-blockers continue to be an issue for affiliates. We need to be very aware of the potential traffic we are losing, and operators need to react by improving their tracking options.
Transparency is a crucial component for the affiliate system to continue to be successful, which is achieved by having access to good tracking links and bonus codes.
Or is it now a race to the bottom with inflated valuations and problematic price-to-earnings ratios? It looks like the boom and bust cycle could be getting underway in the gambling affiliate space.
Leading on from the heating up in the affiliate category outlined above, as margins come under further pressure and competition for traffic intensifies, the platforms that will survive and thrive will be those that focus on real-time reporting for conversion rate optimisation, remarketing and behavioural marketing.
This of course means continued investment into technology and data scientists to crunch all the big data and develop deep learning models, in turn impacting margins and ROI.
Big data is the key to unlocking revenue opportunities in the affiliate marketing vertical. And yes, smart data analysis and visualisation, combined with cognitive, heuristics, artificial intelligence and algorithmic thinking, are coming to you very soon.
Building websites for mobile-first. You also have to think about conversions on a mobile-first basis, how you use the web—mobile and tablet while watching TV from an internet- connected device—and how others are too.
Optimising the site technically and for content, adding value and being in the right place social, search, forums, etc.
In , we saw the transition to user acquisition via mobile continue on both smartphones and tablets. This year, we can expect to see marketing channels evolve and expand to meet this trend, and for savvy brands and affiliates to capitalise on these opportunities.
New channels include app store advertising, where there is little competition and a big opportunity for low-cost acquisition.
With increasing levels of data capture and analytics, we can expect to see the connection between user acquisition data and retargeting marketing become even stronger.
In , there will be an evolution towards more holistic customer marketing across platforms, channels and points in the sales funnel.
This means brands will be able to capture more data at each phase of the sales process and use this data to develop a comprehensive view of the customer and their behaviour, creating a tailored experience with the least amount of effort.
Markets in South America, Africa and Asia will continue to gain traction, and they will likely attract larger brands from mature European markets looking to expand.
These markets also represent an opportunity for affiliates to diversify their operations in regions with lower competition. They will serve to educate the users of the new brands and products in these markets.
We can also expect to see brands building partnerships with affiliates that have emerging market knowledge and traffic.
As a channel that is predominately used for less tangible metrics, such as brand awareness and reach, display has been a discipline dominated by operators.
On top of this, display has a poor reputation in a lot of verticals. If you purchase a coffee machine from Amazon, I guarantee that for the following fortnight you will be chased around every major publisher you visit by horrible adverts, offering you the same machine you have probably already purchased.
Instead affiliates have tended to stick to more performance-focused channels that provide them with direct traffic and conversions.
These changes are driving affiliates and super affiliates to seek out new and emerging channels in a digital arms race for cost-effective, high-quality traffic.
Of these emerging disciplines, only one is currently being seriously considered as having the ability to bridge the void created through recent legislation changes, as well as supplement current traditional channel efforts such as SEO, and that is display… But not as you might know it.
Native advertising Native advertising is a form of display marketing that can achieve the same cost-effective scale of impressions that made display so popular, but native has the advantage of bringing through high-quality traffic that is engaged and ready to convert.
There are also a plethora of formats to choose from. What we have seen working well for affiliates over the past year has been cinemagraphs — high resolution images with a slight element of movement — they are subtle yet eye-catching.
Strategic tips This new format is as perfect for direct to landing page marketing as it is for content amplification, and for both approaches, we have found the following strategies effective: Native is extremely flexible, and it can supplement your efforts in a multitude of ways, for example, it can be a cost-effective method of getting your infographics on national publications, or pushing your super targeted blog posts to niche websites.
Focus on performance-driven metrics With new channels, leveraging a new wave of performance-driven metrics has proven invaluable for optimisation.
This is called cost per time on site, and it enables you to assign a value to onsite engagement pre-conversion. Using native purely to fill the audience pot that sits at the top of your marketing funnel has also proven effective, which means native can supplement your existing marketing efforts as easily as it can be an alternative to them.
Finally, as native is a brand-new channel and brands utilising it are technically still early adopters, the best native ad providers out there are operating on a performance- related fee mode, meaning you can currently trial it risk-free, and provide an incentive for the DSPs to make sure they are outperforming your current marketing mix.
This is only the beginning. Every day more top publishers are adding native placements to their publications, and more advertisers are trying out unique and innovative formats like cinemagraphs and parallax scrolling.
With head-turning messages like these, it is perhaps no surprise more people are being seduced by the concept of matched betting. For those unfamiliar, matched betting is a technique where people take up free bookmaker signup offers and other bonuses to back one outcome of a sporting event, then place a lay bet at a betting exchange such as Betfair.
Because the back bet was essentially free, they profit whatever the outcome. For those willing to put in a bit of legwork, there are genuine and consistent profits to be bagged.
Of course, matched betting is nothing new. However, the practice has become noticeably more organised of late as a slew of slick-looking sites armed with odds-matching software, calculators, tutorials and forums have burst onto the scene.
An odds-matching process that was once plotted using spreadsheets and by trawling the internet for matched betting opportunities is now automated, making it considerably simpler and quicker.
Even by conservative estimates, the site is raking in seven figures annually just from subscriptions. According to web traffic statistics specialists SimilarWeb, Profit Accumulator attracts around one million visitors a month, with users hanging around for an average of 11 minutes and clicking on 19 pages.
As well as an accomplished video extolling the virtues of matched betting, together with member case studies, rival subscription-based site OddsMonkey includes caricatures of the strong team, mimicking the vibe of a tech start-up.
Even so, Michael Rasmussen, head of acquisition at Panbet Marathonbet Group , describes matched betting today as organised bonus abuse.
As soon as you have got a new company out there that opens up a bonus they have an army of matched bettors killing them on their bonusing.
David Archer founded sports betting affiliate network Biggerbet in but recently launched MatchedBets. Although perhaps not a life-changing sum to most, risk-free profits like this are certainly not to be sniffed at, especially if a cash-strapped undergraduate.
Traditionally a low-margin operator, Marathonbet decided to provide its first new customer offer in August Bonus abusers and matched bettors were quick to pounce, says Rasmussen, adding that the promotion cost his firm seven figures.
He estimates similar amounts are lost to matched bettors across the industry. That way, the bookmaker just sees a losing account.
Buccioli, unsurprisingly maybe, refutes the suggestion that this is all organised bonus abuse. The two disciplines have not only gotten married, they have gone on to have some amazing link-building babies!
You have a fantastically well-built site. Your on-page SEO is the best it can be, with optimised titles, amazing meta descriptions and a page load speed that would impress Usain Bolt.
Getting people to link to your website is still pretty much key and this is where SEO and PR work best together.
First up, the two teams need to work together to think up campaign ideas that can attract links back to the site.
PR land has a rich pedigree when it comes to getting high domain authority news and online sites to naturally link back to a site, and this is what can make the difference when it comes to search rankings.
When a big story breaks that your company is well positioned to comment on, you can get links by being super quick in getting your reactive statement out to the media, and by super quick, I mean within minutes of a story breaking.
A few rules for this: If you have related content on your site, make sure that you include this link with your statement to give journalists a reason to link to you.
Great link-building success for brands can also come from creating content that is hosted on their own site which is interesting to both consumers and media and very shareable.
This can be anything from fun microsites, e. There are thousands of online tutorials about how to create brilliant content that will get interest from the media and ultimately links, but the benchmark is simple: When you are brainstorming ideas, this is the test you should apply to every idea.
In addition, you need to think about how you can position the story or content in a way that makes the journalist or news site need to link to your on-site content in order to help the consumer, or better tell their story.
So far we have talked about how public relations people can get links to help the SEO team out, but one of the best examples of the two areas working hand in hand is strategic guidance with regard to the types of links to get.
Sometimes these sites are quite niche, so bespoke content or articles will need to be thought of, pitched to the relevant journalists, written and then submitted.
This is not a quick and easy task and can be far more time-consuming than other types of public relations link- building, but the pay-off makes it more than worthwhile.
The final area where I think a public relations approach can enhance SEO performance is link reclamation. This is where a big news or high-authority website has written a story about your website but not necessarily given a link back.
This is a good example of where the two disciplines have very different approaches. SEO has historically been a bit clumsy about this and a first date is probably a good analogy.
When the SEO team approaches link reclamation the first date they just thunder in and try for a big old snog straight away ask for the link. The PR approach is more about building the relationship, getting to know the person and then, when they think the moment is right, leaning in and going for a more delicate kiss, probably getting this job done quicker and more successfully in the long run.
Kathryn Farrell of Digital Fuel Marketing unpacks the factors and trends set to shape and disrupt digital media and marketing over the next 12 months.
That old pearl of wisdom has never rung truer than in the world of technological innovation, where change happens fast and often.
Mobile is surpassing desktop, social is crushing search, and messaging apps are outdoing email. Here, we take a look at some of his observations, combining this with some predictions for the year ahead from the team here at Digital Fuel Marketing.
The age group watch the least amount of TV, rarely read a printed newspaper or magazine, and is the least likely to listen to the radio.
They are, however, glued to their smartphones more often than any other age bracket. While several other platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat have tried to stake a claim to that elusive third position behind Google and Facebook, none of them, not even Yahoo or AOL, have ever come close.
The bell tolls for legacy TV Blodget also argued that for the next 20 years, digital disruption will focus on TV. According to Blodget, traditional TV has passed its peak and the average time spent watching linear TV is falling.
Subscriber-based services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu, plus Apple TV installations, are growing rapidly in user numbers in the US and in international markets where available.
Modern TV networks are better in providing the kind of service we all demand in OTT networks allow us to watch what we want when we want to, anywhere, on any screen.
The convenience of this speaks to the way we want to consume our entertainment in So, what does it all mean? With there are many legacy networks, too few of these have sustainable viewer bases and access to the great content needed to attract new audiences, which is scarce and in great demand.
Couple this with the declining audiences for traditional strongholds such as televised sports, and mergers and partnerships will become the way for many traditional networks to survive.
Thankfully, underlying ad revenues are still substantial enough to allow these networks to weather the storm as combined entities.
Instead, Blodget pointed to social video as the next big thing. The likes of Veeroll, Animoto and Kizoa offer both free and paid-for video production tools highly compatible with all of the main social media networks.
When your social video content ticks all of the above boxes, the opportunity is massive for marketers. The key is testing messaging and video length, and optimising for audience types.
Even small brands can watch analytics to iterate and improve results faster. Look at what worked best over the past year and double down on those channels, topics and tactics.
Analytics can also help bring about predictive customer service, providing personalised experiences for consumers based on likes and preferences.
This technology will also predict what consumers need based on patterns in their customer journey, allowing for customer service agents to reach out before a problem even arises.
Predictive analytics will become a must-have to understand and retain users. New standards will allow reach and engagement to be meaningfully compared across Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.
Plus, put your pedal to the metal a little if you can. If you can keep quality up while publishing more frequently, you might be surprised at how well the added content catapults you to the next level of visibility in less time, particularly if you factor in SEO strategy.
Influencer marketing will take a bow Authenticity will take centre stage and brands will return to micro-influencers to build it.
Brands need to lean on real-world influencer events and activations to create more organic non-scripted content that naturally drives higher engagement, while agencies will gravitate toward live-streaming and real-time social media platforms.
Equally, brands will depend increasingly on those micro-influencers that demonstrate high engagement in niche, more targeted verticals.
With improvements in influencer marketing tech, agencies will be able to hit precise target demographics, verticals, locations, etc. Smaller agencies will need to adopt the use of marketing tech platforms in order to compete, especially as the industry looks toward using mass numbers of micro-influencers.
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As such, now is the perfect time for affiliates to update their marketing strategies for the year ahead. It also seems likely that AMP will soon play an even bigger role in the conversion funnel.
Savvy affiliates will therefore get ahead of the mobile search curve by obtaining AMP certification for their sites in Verbal search enquiries are typically more detailed than typed searches due to the respective effort involved.
The very same iPhone user interested in a horse racing punt will also search for apps within the App Store.