LIVE POKER: THE UNLIKELY VERTICAL IN ONLINE TRAFFIC


The opportunity for affiliates in marketing around live poker tournaments


I WAS RECENTLY re-reading a piece of editorial concerning live poker that I’d written for this magazine’s sister publication, iGaming Business, and I must admit that I may have made a slight misrepresentation in declaring “Online poker players dream about taking on poker pros, at a real poker game, at a real poker table in a casino”. I must apologise to all the poker players out there and will use this platform to rectify my statement: most poker players actually see themselves as pros, or at least experienced players and they will take to live action as ducks to water, to play other pros. Of course, I am being flippant but, many a true word...

Live value

One of my online clients recently tasked me with the organisation of a live poker tournament, to increase... you guessed it, their online presence. Part of the marketing strategy concerns ‘involving’ affiliates in the promotion of the live poker tournament as much as the online satellites. Hence, after a few meetings with the pillars of this industry (that’s you guys, the affiliates), I realised two things. Firstly, the number of live poker tournaments makes it affordable for the average Joe to play a few tournaments per year without the need to fly off to Vegas every time. Secondly, every poker player that makes a placement (the size and prestige of it is largely irrelevant, what matters is to be in-the-money) thinks of himself/herself as a pro. Once that has been achieved, they are hooked to the game and the ‘fame’ that comes with it. Live poker becomes a hobby and in some cases a part-time job.

We now find an interesting phenomenon around this new generation of semi-pros - an entourage of friends, affiliates, coaches, etc, all whole-heartedly supporting their guy’s poker career and defending and debating the performance as if it were their own. Therefore, when it comes to the online side of things, bad beats are no longer bad beats, but rather something conjured from above, anomalies worth a public enquiry or the involvement of scientists from the CERN laboratory (there is only so much particle acceleration you can do), or perhaps even the whispered rumour that the software is just not right leading to the assertion that “this would never happen on a live table”. I have heard this statement hundreds of times and, although it totally ignores the different pace of both games (which makes it very unlikely to recreate an online situation in an offline game), it does, without any shadow of a doubt, add more value to live poker and clearly demonstrates where it stands in the public eye.

Capitalisation

If we now agree our poker pro tendencies to seek offline adrenaline go hand in hand with online poker and operators’ prolific live tournament commitments, so affiliates can and should capitalise on this live action as well.

It is not uncommon for land-based casinos and online operators to pay CPA on live tournaments. The CPA is usually based on the event fee and it could range from /10 to the full fee in some cases. The key for negotiation in these situations is the numbers of players an affiliate can bring. Land-based casinos are willing to invest part of the full fee as they know that their real mark-up is not built on revenues from poker tournaments but from the traffic around the roulette and blackjack tables that those same players can generate.

Recently, e-commerce has seen a trend to return to content in order to generate online traffic. The classic online approach to drive traffic to affiliate sites could pay off even on live events. It would be criminal not to capitalise on the fact that live poker is content rich. Whether through articles and blogs or video interviews, poker players are a keen bunch when it comes to talking about their winning/losing hand and their tournament performance.

Also, the list of events taking place in Europe on a monthly basis makes for a rich calendar for any website so dedicating space to them would be a good long-term investment. With such a content rich environment, investing in SEO that targets live poker events could pay off even for affiliates wanting to target exclusively online traffic. We hardly need to remind ourselves that recent statistics revealed that 93 percent of all Internet traffic is generated from search engines. Now, if percentage values aren’t really painting a vivid picture in your brain of how huge that amount really is, then maybe the following real and round number will: every single month, there are 88 billion searches on Google alone and nine out of every ten online searchers do not look past the first page of results. What is more, a nice little chunk of this search action is concerning online poker. So, keep your pages filled with good content to please Google, as well as your users, and bare in mind that whilst it may be too much to ask to get on the first page for key phrases like ‘poker’ or ‘online poker’, it is easier to focus on the long-tail keywords, for example ‘Texas Hold’em poker’.

And as a last consideration, all live events run online satellites and the monopoly is not exclusive to the big operators. Sponsoring a live event is, at some point, part of any decent sized operation’s marketing plans; hence, an opportunity to generate (or better, regenerate) your affiliate traffic towards new or less renowned operators.
 
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