Headquartered in Spain, Infinileads are a slot machine focused affiliate with their eyes on regulated markets across Europe and Latam.
Eric Stoop gives SiGMA News the inside scoop on where the affiliate scene is heading.
How did your affiliate business take off? When did you start your affiliate business and what brought you to iGaming? Is Gaming your only vertical?
Our existing business was started in the beginning of 2019. I got into iGaming back in 2006-2007. I started as a poker player during the poker boom back in 2004, I had just turned 18 years old. It was hard to lose money playing poker back then and it was a fantastic experience to go from a poor student to suddenly get a lot of money at that age. But it was not until I meet my current wife in 2006 that I discovered how the iGaming industry works “behind the scenes”.
She was one of the first employees at Maria Bingo (acquired by Kindred in 2008) and after she quit her role there, we went on to work on a new bingo operator called MamaMia Bingo, which had a poker vertical on the Microgaming network which I got in charge of.
Currently we only pursue iGaming, but we have worked in other verticals before like the finance vertical and might be looking to extend to more verticals in the future.
How many employees are currently with the company? Can you tell us a little about how your company business is structured?
We are slot machine focused affiliates with four main people in the business. Spread out over Europe. We have a Spanish company and a Spanish office in Marbella. We work with 8 freelancer that are mainly based in Italy and Spain.
2 persons managing SEO
1 person managing frontend/backend/design
1 person managing product/commercials
Small hard-working team but we will need to scale up soon
Which markets do you focus on and do you see any potential in the emerging markets?
We focus on the regulated Italian, Spanish, Portuguese market but also on LatAm. When I operated a poker skin on the Microgaming network back in 2008, our focus market was LatAm. Back then we saw a lot of sign ups, free roll players but the conversion to real money players was horrible. We still see similar patterns when working with LatAm in 2020. The main issue is that cash is still the preferred method of payment in most countries. This leads you to search for partners presence online and brick and mortar so that they can accept cash deposits/withdrawals for online in their physical venue.
But markets like Peru and Chile works well and we have seen more operators from Europe like Leovegas trying to specifically target these markets. Betsson has been in the Peruvian market since early 2000 and it is one of Betssons biggest markets in terms of traffic volumes.
What makes your traffic proposition / traffic sites unique? What can you offer that others don’t? Are there any exciting plans in the works that you can tell us about?
We focus mainly on providing a free to play slot machine experience. It is an amazingly simple product when you just look at it from the outside but there is a lot of work behind it, especially when you target several geos. Handling 1000+ slot machines with content, source per geo and still providing a lightning fast experience is tough. We believe that we deliver one of the best experiences for players looking to try new slot machines in free to play mode.
Have you ever considered looking into emerging technology for that competitive advantage, such as application of AI, Big Data or other?
I’m a big fan of data and we have discussed this, never seen enough value to take the time to integrate AI behavioural tracking on our websites though.
A number of other affiliates have gone down the real money operator route, and tried their hand at white labels. Have you considered giving white label casino or sports betting a go?
Actually, back in 2016 before we sold our affiliate business to Catena Media we had almost everything completed for a white label setup through Everymatrix. We had decided to focus on the Finish market with a Finish appealing branding. Only 1 month away from launch we meet Erik Bergman (Founder of Catena Media) at LAC. We decided to proceed with and sell our business and could not continue with the operator because of conflict of interest.
It was a shame because given how the Finish market have developed since then and the fact that the market is still not licensed. I think it would had been a great success.
Australia, Japan, India, US and Canada, South-East-Asia, LatAm traffic: so many affiliates are looking outside Europe that has become somehow saturated, to grow their business and diversify their portfolio.
Has this fragmentation of regulated markets affected your numbers? UKGC, Swedish regulator and now also the German regulator is mulling regulating this space.
We took a major blow in Spain which is our biggest market as regulators banned all marketing following player protection during lockdown because of Covid-19. This was a different experience as it is not only about losing short term revenue. We rely strictly on organic traffic through SEO and the compliance work that followed with the marketing ban influenced our SEO work.
What is the main thing that you’d like SiGMA readers to know about your traffic? Are you focusing on SEO? PPC? Any other traffic source?
We only do organic SEO. We should be looking for other sources as well, we have the skillset and proven track-record within the organisation to do PPC and Google adwords. The issue is that we need to free more time for our existing employees to be able to focus on it.
Are you contemplating bringing in investors to scale or grow your business? Or, with such a big M&A market, have you ever contemplated selling the business?
At this point we see no value in bringing in external investors. The core team we have now has been working together for a long time and bringing in external investors would potentially disrupt the workflow in the business. We sold a business back in 2016 to Catena Media which focused on the Italian and Belgium market. Had an earnout until 2018 and took 1 year off before starting up this new project.
What two pieces of advice would you give to any new affiliate starting today?
If referring to SEO affiliation I would say that the scene has changed completely since we started our first project back in 2012. Today you need a combination of contacts in the industry and a strong budget to be able to work minimum 1 year with no revenues from the business.
The second piece of advice would be to invest a lot of time in selecting which markets you should pursue and do not be afraid to target markets where a lot of affiliates have not entered yet. Affiliates tend to just follow other affiliates and work in markets where you feel comfortable with the language.
What has your biggest shocker been to date, without the need to mention the operator by name? Has any operator or affiliate manager ever let you down and how do you prevent such a scenario from happening again?
There have been many disappointments over the years but nothing extreme. It is the classic use of rogue terms in affiliate program T&C, contradicting what you agreed on before. We have always been strong in the Italian market and I have to say that I really like Italian affiliate managers in general. Maybe it is just the Italian culture, but they happy people with which in many cases treat you as family.
In general, we do a lot of homework when it comes to operators and their history. It is of course harder in markets like LatAm when working with operators that is not very known in the European market and there is not much information about other affiliates past experiences that can be found online.
Have you ever been to SiGMA? Would you consider attending SiGMA Manila or SiGMA Malta at some point?
I have never attended SiGMA, but that is mainly because I am a bit reluctant to overall travel, not because of fear of flying but I work a lot and I have a wife and two kids so I try to spend as much time with them as I possibly can and usually only visit ICE and LAC.
I have only heard good things about SiGMA and if I would select one more conference to attend yearly, it would be the SiGMA Malta one.
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