an insight into the state of the current sportsbetting environment

Is now a good time to be a sportsbetting affiliate?

In my opinion, sportsbetting as a vertical has really exploded in the past few years as increased competition at an operator level leads to exponential growth in markets; both sports-specific and geographical. The more competitive we are as an industry, the more markets we naturally create which, in turn, offers huge opportunities to affiliates in terms of broadening their product offering to attract new players. Great news also for the price-sensitive player, as this has led to competitive odds and innovative promotions.

From an affiliate manager's perspective, how vibrant is the sportsbetting market comparable to other gaming verticals?

The sportsbetting market is becoming increasingly vibrant. As technology rapidly advances, we have seen areas such as in-play betting develop and advance in terms of acquisition, conversion and retention which is, of course, great news for affiliates as they are seeing increased revenues as a direct result of this technology actively satisfying their demands. Casino and poker verticals have their own unique challenges and opportunities although creating real product differentiation is becoming increasingly difficult with a handful of networks servicing an entire industry. Sportsbetting moves away from this standardised format through aggressive odds strategies, which we as an industry can use to leverage our own individual positions and offerings.

In terms of geography, what regions are seeing the most stability and growth at present, and where would you advise affiliates to target their activities?

Stability and growth don't often go hand-in-hand and I believe we should look at the difference between CPA and LTV in both existing and current markets. It is this percentage margin which dictates good business and potential. That said, Eastern Europe and Latin America are becoming increasingly fruitful, whilst Western Europe remains relatively stable, yet, still as competitive as ever.

What about affiliate revenue levels? For those affiliates not yet looking at sportsbetting, how do affiliate sports revenues differ from the likes of casino, poker and bingo?

Affiliate revenues for sports are consistently strong. Obviously, they are not as instant or immediate as casino, although they are certainly more fluid than poker and more lucrative than bingo. Sportsbetting is its own animal with mass market appeal which is far broader globally than casino. In short, such a mass appeal when combined with aggressive revenue streams represents a solid opportunity for affiliates considering entering this vertical.

What would you say is the best cross marketing vertical for sportsbetting affiliates (forex/financial trading, for example)?

It is no surprise that a number of sports operators offer financial platforms and vice versa; the most obvious example being Betfair and Tradefair. If we were to drill this relationship further, the very essence of spread betting mirrors that of sportsbetting entirely, so whether we're spread betting on a share price or taking a fixed odd, the players' skills sets are interchangeable.

In-play has been a huge driver of growth for both revenue and player traffic for the sector... where can affiliates derive the best opportunities here?

For affiliates to leverage the in-play service offered by bookmakers the best acquisition tool is either live odds direct to an affiliate's portal or in-play banners. These allow affiliates to directly promote a real-time price and offer to a prospective player during the actual sporting event. The call-to-action of such an ad format has huge potential with ioo percent relevance to players which has a direct impact on conversion rates.

How can affiliates maximise their social media presence?

Social media and gaming don't always marry easily and, historically, social media platforms have been primarily used as retention/communication mechanisms, with varying degrees of success. Social media can be a 'red herring' and the challenge for affiliates is to use it as more than just a retention and news service. I'm talking about looking at companies such as Sony and the MMORPG industry and how they are using social platforms such as Facebook to drive acquisition and retention. They are bringing a challenge element to the Facebook page, creating a true seamless and interactive experience harnessing the friendly (and not so friendly) competition that exists between an individual and their numerous friends. There will be winners and losers with this strategy although I am certain that the impact and traffic generated far outweighs the benefit of having a handful of Facebook likes.

Finally, what would be your advice for a) rookie sportsbetting affiliates b) intermediate affiliates and c) already successful affiliates?

For affiliates starting out in the sportsbetting industry, they can find invaluable information at online communities such as CAP, GPWA and AGD. This will also allow them to evaluate the various programs available and to directly contact their representatives. The key to success is to offer an engaging experience to players with regular and relevant content that keeps visitors returning to your site. New affiliates should also have infinite patience; gone are the days when overnight riches appeared with minimal effort. This also applies to intermediate affiliates, as you know you'll have good weeks and bad, although you'll be starting (hopefully) to see the fruits of your labour.

You'll be generating new players and revenue and your affiliate manager will help you achieve more through bespoke offers and promotions. By now, you'll know what your traffic likes so make sure you ask your affiliate manager for what you'll need. Super affiliates, or those that are a success in this vertical will know that the industry has changed rapidly over the years. You will, no doubt, have seen a change in your monthly revenues as a direct result of both the economy and the effects of regulation. Emerging markets will be as important to affiliates as they are to operators over the coming months/years, as even the affiliate market is saturated nowadays. My advice is to test and try new operators as they'll have a less heavily populated player base than some of your preferred programs, which may help compensate for any dip in revenues.
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