Ken Larsen, Director at Traffic Puma Ltd, gives an exclusive interview to SiGMA News as part of our latest series on affiliates
How did you first get into the affiliate space?
Used to work in an oil company in Norway, as one does, and knew that my days were numbered when the oil prices took a big hit 6 years ago. With an education in marketing and journalism, I stumbled into SEO as a freelancer.
I looked at what was the most lucrative SEO-niche and found iGaming. I then read up on Malta and came across a job listing and applied. Moved here one month after the interview and sold everything in Norway when I went back on vacation six months later.
What can operators do to increase support with affiliates?
Avoid T&C changes without notifying the affiliates and pay invoices on time.
How can affiliates be more unique in their approach?
It is very hard to be unique with so many great affiliates at the moment, but there are always creative ways for them to explore as to how they optimise their traffic channels and how relevant and diligent the information they are presenting is. Adding forums and direct support is also something more will venture in to.
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?
100%. We have owners that explored in the industry, but an investor or partnership is always on the table if it makes sense for both parties.
Which qualities and skills are essential in an affiliate marketing team/business?
Self-Discipline: Discipline must be manifested correctly.
Self-Government: To pursue information, take action, take responsibility and be accountable afterwards.
Self-Knowledge: Knowing your strengths and flaws enables you to work with, or adapt better to colleagues.
What sets you apart from other affiliate marketing firms?
We have a unique blend of resources that gives us something that not maybe everyone has. There are a few affiliates that are above the rest, we are not amongst them now. Hopefully, we’ll get there at some point.
How does technology play a part in your day-to-day?
I have a complicated relationship with my phone that takes a fair amount of time and energy, and I wear a Fitbit I rarely look at.
Which emerging technologies like AI and big data will impact the affiliate industry in 2020 and beyond?
Google’s AI has been impacting the industry for a while already and will likely get better or worse. Big data is the future of marketing in all fast-approaching. Retargeting will continue to grow on the affiliate side as well.
As far as emerging technologies in the affiliate industry go, I think that would have to be automated SEO tools run on AI in syntax with companies Business Intelligence Information, which I’m sure the super affiliates are looking into.
Is the grass greener on the other side - have you considered going down the operator route?
No, not really. I want to keep my focus where it is for the foreseeable future.
Which markets are you eyeing up as a priority in 2020, and why?
The US and LATAM. The US is obvious, just because of the value and market size, but I think LATAM will be even more interesting than it was a few months ago as the COVID-19 situation has fast-tracked the market to get more familiar with online payment solutions than they would have in normal times. There is still a need to source contacts and network as the market is in its early days though.
How has the fragmentation of regulated markets affected your business?
UKGC, Swedish regulator and now also the German regulator is mulling regulating this space.
Sweden is too saturated and competitive if you are compliant, so we are not putting any effort into that market. Germany will be interesting as it’s a big market and even more interesting if Pay’n’Play properly kicks off. Hopefully, there will still be a market in the years to come.
How is the Asian market shaping-up for affiliates?
We don’t do anything there so I can’t give you an educated answer, but with the sheer size of the market, it is a goldmine for those who unlock its potential.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when starting out?
That doing is better than thinking about doing. Overthinking is a plague these days.
What’s been your biggest nightmare to date?
What are the main challenges for the sector in 2020?
A fast-approaching challenge for casino-affiliates will be higher competition now that sport is down. I don’t think that will last for longer than a few months, but we will face increasing competition.
Less marketing budgets because of the decrease in revenue caused by COVID-19. The easiest way to make money is to cut costs, so it will be interesting to see how it goes for our industry and the global economy as a whole.
What are your predictions for the future of the sector?
Steady growth but less and less breadcrumbs for smaller companies. At some point, things will return to normal and the growth we have been seeing will continue, but 2020 is impossible to predict.
How do you manage relationships with multiple affiliates?
If by affiliates you mean operators, I’d say respectful, but honest. You come a long way with politeness.
What are the benefits of attending large iGaming events, and what can they do better?
I think the social value of the people travelling together is as important as the business value. I guess a kind of team-building trip where you might come back with great deals is not the worst trip you can have. But everyone knows how those trips can be, or end up.
Have you ever been to SiGMA? Would you consider attending SiGMA Manila or SiGMA Malta at some point?
Been to SiGMA a few times now, and I would definitely consider all the SiGMA events once the travel industry has re-established itself. Hopefully, there is a way to organise this year’s SiGMA within the COVID-19 social measures. Gloves crossed.
Happiness is a smoothie made in your head.
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