Marc Pedersen, VP of Business Development & M&A and General Manager US at Better Collective, joins the latest series of affiliate interviews on Affiliate Grand Slam
Marc Pedersen has worked at Better Collective since 2007 and has been an integral figure in helping the company become one of the foremost players in the betting industry - follow his story below.
How did your affiliate marketing business take off? And, is iGaming your only vertical?
I joined Better Collective in 2007 when the company was still in its ‘early days’.
Today, Better Collective has developed into a broader-based sports betting media group with a strong sports and esports vertical while also operating a strong casino vertical.
How is your company structured, and what aspect of business development are you currently focused on?
Better Collective is headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark, and has additional 11 offices across Europe and the US. Combined, Better Collective employs more than 400 people.
We are currently focusing on strengthening our leading position within the sports and esports verticals. Recently we acquired the leading esports platform HLTV.org that focuses on the popular game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO).
Historically we have built a strong position in the regulated European markets, however, with the repeal of PASPA in 2018, we have intensified our focus and investments in the US to gain a leading position in the market.
What makes your traffic proposition/traffic sites unique?
We have built and acquired leading sports betting brands and communities in our core markets which have a lot of loyal sports fans visitors. In addition, we have strong compliance processes and procedures in place to ensure continued compliance across markets and platforms.
Since our technically superior platforms are built around our users and their unique preferences, Better Collective products become a part of our users’ day to day betting experience. Our approach differs as it invites individual users to come back to our platforms, facilitating multiple affiliate journeys per single user, allowing us to increase both the retention rates on our platforms, and leads to our partners.
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?
In 2018, Better Collective became listed on NASDAQ Stockholm (BETCO). A core reason behind this was to allow us to be able to pursue our M&A strategy to realize our ambition to become the leading sports betting aggregator in the world. Since then, we have acquired leading brands and platforms in core markets securing us a strong position within the sports and esports verticals.
Which qualities and skills are essential in an affiliate marketing team/business?
The ability to understand and analyse user needs and how to create true value for the players. Also, it is key to be able to gather relevant data broadly across platforms and be able to utilize this data to make good business decisions that will increase the experience for our users and value for our partners and business.
What sets you apart from other affiliates marketers?
We have a strong focus on the sports and esports vertical and a strong ability to build and operate flourishing sports betting communities. Better Collective has been in the iGaming business for a long time and has a great culture which ensures we keep innovating and always strive to be the best.
Which emerging technologies like AI and big data will impact the affiliate industry in 2020 and beyond?
Responsible gambling continues to be high on the agenda. On this matter, AI will continue to grow in importance as a technology to prevent problem gambling. This is one of the reasons we invested in the company Mindway AI that specialises in innovative solutions based on artificial intelligence and neuroscience for the identification of problem gambling.
Being able to utilize AI in a way that adds value to the users, an organisation and business operations will be a key value-driver for affiliate businesses in the coming years.
Which markets are you eyeing up as a priority in 2020, and why?
The US is a market we have invested massively in. E.g. in 2019, we acquired Rotogrinders.com and vegasinsider.com and we have established offices in Nashville, TN and Fort Lauderdale, FL. We see a large potential in the US as more and more states regulate online betting and we have a clear ambition to take a leading position in the market.
LATAM is also an area where we see a big potential and it is an area that we closely monitor.
How has the fragmentation of regulated markets affected your business? UKGC, Swedish regulator and now also the German regulator is mulling regulating this space.
It puts extra demands on the compliance and legal work within the organisation, as we need to be able to, with the one hand scale our products and offerings, and with the other hand be able to comply with local regulations that vary across markets and states.
This requires close coordination between our teams. Given the size of our organisation and business, we have the power to dedicate resources to stay on top of the compliance work.
What are your predictions for the future of the sector?
I see a great future for the sector. Even though we face challenges in some markets, on a broad scale, bigger and more markets are beginning to regulate online betting which is positive. To this day, in general, a large portion of betting takes place physically and the trend is clear; more betting will take place online in the future. So, there is strong underlying growth for the online betting industry.
Also, we see a great potential for the esports vertical which by nature has a global reach and which has grown significantly in interest over the last couple of years.
What are the benefits of attending large iGaming events, and what can they do better?
It represents great opportunities to connect with existing and potential business partners and catch up with friends within the industry.
Have you ever been to SiGMA? Would you consider attending SiGMA Manila or SiGMA Malta at some point?
I have attended SIGMA Malta several times, it has always been a great pleasure. Malta is in many ways the focal point in European based iGaming - and thus the conference filled a great need for a Malta-based conference.
Tell us a bit about yourself - after all, business is done with people, not just companies!
Currently spending most of my time on my new-born son, who is just about two months old. When not saying baby sounds or changing diapers, I enjoy playing and watching a broad variety of sports.