Jonas Kyllönen, Creative Director at Mr Gamble, gives an exclusive interview to SiGMA News as part of our latest series on affiliates
How did you first get into the affiliate space, and were you always focused on the iGaming sector?
I met some entrepreneurial guys back in 2011 and that ignited my spark to also start doing business. I met some affiliates back in 2012 and they were doing email marketing. The taught me the basics, and there it started. In the beginning we focused on non-gaming, but pretty seen it came clear the the iGaming sector has a much higher value per click. The email business more or less died when the new GDPR regulation came in force, and that was the time when I jumped into SEO and Social traffic.
How is your affiliate business structured, and what aspect of business development are you currently focused on?
Right now we are focusing mainly on SEO development but we have also been working on Social Media traffic and are slowly getting the grip on how to create new cost efficient traffic. We have also done some PPC tests, but at the moment it is better to keep our eggs in the SEO / Social basket.
Which markets do you focus on and do you see any potential in the emerging markets?
At the moment we focus on English markets, but we also have the Finnish market covered. We are very interested in the US market and are currently working on licensing and other legal factors to get there as soon as possible. Asia is also very interesting. Thanks to Eman from SIGMA for being such an efficient ambassador of iGaming also in Asia!
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?
Unlike many other affiliates, we want to focus on one site. This way we can truly offer value for the player. We don't want to be just cash pumping middlemen who spread their sites on the internet, we actually want to build a product that offers real extra value for players. The affiliate business is already considered dirty, so we want to make our share to prove people that the site can actually be useful.
When building www.mr-gamble.com, the main idea was actually to be the first affiliate to truly give something useful for the player, not just be a portal of stacked casino offers. We have done this by being able to offer any player a useful bonus in under 1 minute. Our motto is "Find a 200% bonus in under one minute". Not many affiliate sites can compete with that.
That being said, our site is technically completely custom developed code wise to be as fast and user friendly as possible. We do not want to be another drip in the WordPress ocean. Our traffic consists of players who want honest reviews and who play on the casino that they truly like. We can offer this because our site is strongly filter-oriented, so with a few filter clicks, you can find the perfect bonus segment for your needs, whether it's Pay and Play, Sports betting, Non-Sticky bonus or a 200% or bigger bonus.
We have several exciting plans in the works. I cannot tell you the details, but we will revolutionise the affiliate business with some badass integrations between many services ;)
What's the attraction of watching someone else's games? Why do people watch casino streaming channels - is it for the entertainment value?
I think It's about the money. People can share the passion and excitement, the rollercoaster of feelings when you play online casino. People empathise with the streamer, also many streams have a great community. It's a place where you can come after school or work. Chat with the streamers and with the viewers of the stream. A relaxing environment. I strongly believe streaming platforms will be taking a lot of market share from Services like Netflix and HBO. People want to be social online, not just watch series and TV shows. They want to have a community outside the normal one, a place where they can be anonymous and talk more freely. Casino Slots are also developing all the time technically, and many games are super exciting to play and watch. So the question is yes - I strongly believe it's for the entertainment value. We managed to become Finlands most viewed Twitch channel in just around 6 months, because we were in it with heart and social skills. Not just clicking the auto-spin buttons. The market got pissed, but we expected it, since we took market share from slot streamers who've been around for years.
How established are iGaming affiliates in the Twitch streaming sector? And is this the future for iGaming affiliates, or just a different approach?
iGaming affiliates are not so established on Twitch yet. Sure there are a few big players, but usually their affiliate sites are low quality and they focus on the Twitch channel only. Many have been doing it for years, and considering how long it's been going on, I'm surprised on how little the streamers have invested in the channels. Many channels have stayed pretty much the same for year graphics and layout wise. We have invested a lot of effort and money in creating a truly entertaining product for people who want to watch casino games, that's the reason why we skyrocketed past the competition in just under 6 months. Unfortunately what we noticed is that most Slot streamers have been there just some relatively easy money. They were not ready to make their own products better when a serious actor came into the game.
Twitch or other streaming platforms will definitely not be the future for iGaming affiliates, but it is a nice side-niche, like SMS or email affiliation. I still see SEO and PPC as the king of casino affiliate. I also think it's cool that people are more open towards iGaming in general. It's a fun way of spending some time and experience some excitement.
How do operators benefit from Twitch (and similar streaming service) affiliates? Is it easy to drive traffic to operators from Twitch directly?
Operators benefit from twitch like they benefit from any traffic source. It takes a lot of time to get your channel to a point where you actually profit from the affiliation. The first months of our streaming we merely covered for our losses. But We want to be everywhere on social media, so it was a natural choice to also grow a Twitch Community for Mr Gamble.
Have tightening regulations and laws across Europe been cause for concern for casino streamers?
Of course they have, I mean, look at the Swedish and the UK market. Site value is dropping in a fast pace. Legislations have killed many affiliates. So i'd say it's not just the casino streamers who will be suffering, it is all affiliates in general. But we don't think about it like that. We are aiming for new, fruitful markets with fresh ideas that the players will like.
What can operators do to increase support from affiliates (for streamers and in general)?
Operators rely too much on the players nowadays. They do not understand that the increased competition between operators also has created a a great bonus hunting ground for players. So more and more players are aware of the fact that there are loads of casino bonuses to use. In my opinion, the biggest mistake casinos makes is that the blame the affiliate and the players for being bad traffic. Why not look in the mirror instead and work on some proper CRM? We have a handful of partners who we've worked with for over a year in the Twitch scene and they never had a bad word about the traffic. It's because they know their job. Their job is to keep the player happy. Many casinos shit their pants when they get big traffic which doesn't become profitable the first week because of the bonus costs. For operators that have good communication and we have seen value with them, we offer them our seal of approval (attached as a file). This is a sign for affiliates that the casino takes care of its players.
I really hope operators would understand the importance of CRM, and stop thinking that every player will be loyal to their casino after the first deposit. The market is big, and there are offers everywhere. Instead of whining to the affiliate, try to make a better casino product and a more efficient CRM funnel! Everyone will be happy!
How does technology play a part in your day-to-day?
It plays a huge role. We use advanced analytics to track all the stats hour to hour, link by link. Based on the results we can optimise so many factors. Obviously since our site is custom built, technology plays a tremendous part there as well, we have a few full time developers just working on making the site better every day.
What’s been your biggest nightmare to date?
Business related, it definitely would be that there would become some kind of global legislation that would make the affiliate markets suffer. I've been an entrepreneur since 2011, and there has been many in real life-nightmares on the way to where I am now. It's better I don't write about those here...
What are the challenges in managing relationships with multiple operators?
Obviously since we are constantly growing, the challenge becomes more and more actual. At this point I must give a very big hand to Matching Visions, who've helped us with managing a part of the operators, so we can focus on key operators. Managing relationships is truly important, and it took me a while to actually realise how important it is to also meet the people you work with and share a beer now and then. It's also about trust between you and the operator. Trust builds business, trust gives both you as an affiliate and the operator tools to enhance the money making process together.
What are the benefits of attending large iGaming events, and what can they do better?
To be honest, I prefer not to hang around in these huge events any more. I prefer doing a strategy roadmap on who to meet and what to talk about. It's too much of a chaos walking around the events for me. Also i've found this strategy profitable. I think one of the best advantages around these events is the possibility to meet the key operators personally and share that beer i mentioned. My skills are not in the event organising area, but I have to say the growth of the SIGMA concept has absolutely been amazing. I cant figure out anything I'd like to see changing.
Have you ever been to SiGMA? Would you consider attending SiGMA Manila or SiGMA Malta at some point?
I've been to Malta for SIGMA the last three years. Once I actually managed to get to the conference place! I ended up having meetings elsewhere, mostly in Paceville and my hotel room, but it resulted in extremely good business contacts. Manila sounds interesting. When we get our Asia market up, it will definitely be on the to-do list.
Tell us a bit about yourself – after all business is done between people, not just companies!
My business has given me opportunities to travel endlessly. I don't prefer vacations any more. I love home more than anything and I'm constantly putting in effort and resources to make home even sweeter. Travelling always feels more or less stressful because it is (even on vacations) work related. Business for me is a way of life, disconnecting makes me anxious. I F**kin love business.
Favourite book ever read?
Favourite book you look forward to read some day? The Harry Potter books when I was a kid, read them in Finnish, Swedish and English. i've not been reading much the last years. I'm diagnosed with ADHD, so my concentration capacity is limited. I like Liza Marklund's books, I think I read 1 book per year or so. I don't look forward to reading books, unless I can do it from my own yacht outside Monaco. But there is quite a bit to go still.
Where would you relocate with family if you had to pick one city?
We relocated to Tallinn, Estonia. This place is amazing. As a native Finn I'm a friend of winter, so I don't mind the cold months. Taxation is entrepreneur friendly and the properties you can find are stunning. Price level is also still decent, Tallinn has not gone through what has happened in Malta 2008-2020. I don't feel like relocating anywhere from here. Also there is only a 2 hour ferry trip to Helsinki when I want to visit family and friends.
"Kill or be killed"
Favourite sport and childhood idol?
This is a tough one. I sucked at pretty much all sports my whole childhood and was always the last guy to get chosen into school teams, so sports was not near my heart. I started martial arts training when I was 16. I'd prefer to choose my adult sports idol. That is Conor McGregor. A mastermind in balancing MMA and business & PR. I did not have idols when I was a child, don't know why really.
Contact information for Affiliate Managers:
Skype - Fda-mystize
Email - email@example.com (ALL BUSINESS ENQUIRIES HERE OR SKYPE)
Facebook - Only for personal contacts
LinkedIn - Not using this service
Twitter - https://twitter.com/mrgamble_?lang=en
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