Affiliate Grand Slam: Meet Hofit Shelly

Hofit Shelly, VP of Marketing and Business Development at GMT{hub}, joins the latest series of affiliate interviews on Affiliate Grand Slam

With the philosophy of not putting all their eggs in one basket, GMT{hub} are continuing to expand their reach within the iGaming industry. Hofit Shelly tells us what it takes for an affiliate business to stay relevant - follow her story below.

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?

I started working for a big network called AppThis a few years back. Needless to say, it didn't work out so well. However, it was the best affiliate school I could have asked for, and I learned all the things one shouldn't do – and got to learn a lot of the difficulties present in iGaming, and how to overcome them. It also taught me not to put all my eggs in one basket – and expand to new verticals.

How many employees are currently with the company? Can you tell us a little about how your company business is structured?

We have about 15 employees, but what really is amazing is that we never had to look for them – they seem to find their way to our company, we never had to put any effort there really. I guess a lot of it is thanks to our unique structure – we go by the saying that you gotta put yourself first, your name and your reputation, and then the company will follow and grow from it. It worked well for us so far, so I guess that's the way to go, no?

Which markets do you focus on and do you see any potential in the emerging markets?

hofit shelly affiliate grand slam sigma gmt{hub} Hofit Shelly, VP of Marketing and Business Development of GMT{hub}.

Tier 1 markets, like the UK, US, and similar are definitely a focus – well, that’s where the money is at when it comes to sports betting, you know the deal. However, thanks to our beloved Corona, we were forced to try different markets – and actually found the amazing potential of casino and trading in LatAm, and other markets that people are too snobby to look at. Your elite attitude is our financial gain.

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?

Well, except for our amazing personalities, lame jokes and our years of experience (but no one counts that), we offer a different mindset – where our partners are actually friends. We choose to work with those we love and enjoy. Doesn't matter if you're big or small, what matters is your personality and honesty, if that exists – we can make it work.

As for exciting plans, they won't be that exciting if I'll tell you about them. Let's just say we're working on a love project, that will create some good and help people.

Have you ever considered looking into emerging technology for that competitive advantage, such as application of AI, Big Data or other?

Knowledge is power, no? We try to learn as much as possible and find ways to incorporate that knowledge into our business. I mean, who wouldn't want to have an AI do their work while sipping coffee and uploading some new Instagram stories.

But the funniest thing about our industry is that everyone says that AI optimization is a new technology, and go on about it, when they don't even know what AI really means, and they just ramble about machine learning – well, I can go on about it forever, but I don't want to bore you with my tech-savvy knowledge.

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?

Not really, we like our fake money. There is something exciting about watching numbers go up, just by talking to people.

But talking seriously now, when our CEO started in our industry 10 years ago, she always quoted her first mentor saying "we have the luxury to pick and choose if a brand isn't working, we just go to another brand", and that comes into play with don't put your eggs in one basket, if you have only one brand, then you're limiting yourself from all the possibilities and the brilliant people that are out there.

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. Are you looking at any specific markets for traffic? And have you found your new niche yet?

Let's be honest, our whole industry is saturated, but that's also what makes it so challenging and fun. If you don't know how to swim, don't get into the water – or some similar saying that basically sums up all of the things above. Always think about new ways to improve and expand, you can't stay still – because you will drown.

Has this fragmentation of regulated markets affected your numbers? UKGC, Swedish regulator and now also the German regulator is mulling regulating this space.

In the same way that legislation changed, so did the world with COVID-19, so going back to the main point – everything changes, and so the markets that used to be top key markets are now no longer at that point, and we all need to adjust ourselves in order to keep going.

gmthub affiliate grand slam sigma interview website GMT{hub} connect our clients to the right global audience at the right time through technology, data and service - gmthub.co.

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?

Oh, people actually care about our traffic? The joy of being around us isn't enough? If you insist, though, we focus on in-app traffic, media buying from DSP and Exchanges, and all that performance marketing fun. Not to mention our good friends in the industry/affiliates with whom we worked for a long period of time.

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?

Oh, no. We don't do well with answering to other people; we can barely answer to ourselves. One of the things we're really proud of is being able to maintain and hold our company and cash flow without investors – and for the same reason, we never thought about selling. We see so much potential in it, and we do quite like the challenge.

What two pieces of advice would you give to any new affiliate starting today?

Don't put your eggs in one basket, don't focus on one big advertiser – but try to split your profit between several advertisers. Also, don't be scared to expand into new verticals or new markets – and keep being innovative and open to new ideas. Also, the most important thing – have a bit of personality, because no one wants to work with a robot.

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?

This actually goes back to my answer about investors, and why we dislike this idea. For example, one company that got acquired by softbank, had to go through changes in the management, which lead to their sales crashing – all because they had to answer an outside force.

That company owed us a lot of money, we had about a quarter a million dollars outside of the company, being held by them. You can probably understand the shock that might have been for us, knowing how hard it is to keep a balance and cash flow.

That definitely been a lesson for us, though. We learned that we would never want to have an investor, as we all know that the power is within you, and secondly, that defiantly highlighted the strategy of spreading the risk.

Have you ever been to SiGMA? Would you consider attending SiGMA Manila or SiGMA Malta at some point?

Personally, I've never had the chance, but members of our team attended and found it very enjoying. We always recommend into our partners as well.

Of course, we'd love to attend SiGMA Manila or Malta. I remember the beaches in the Philippines to be quite the real deal, and Malta looks exactly like the place I want to go for on my next vacation.

Anything else you would like to add?

Yes, "Do not take life too seriously, you will never get out of it alive." Remember to always have fun, and laugh even when life seems a bit tricky.

 

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