Santiago Indart, Business Manager Latam at eightroom, 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?
Eightroom started 15 years ago like any other affiliate, from the bedroom. We started on the Brazilian market with the first local operators when it was very different from today. For the past years we worked only with Brazil and starting our expansion in Q2 we´ll be working with Latam through Peru and Mexico. We are based in two countries with our headquarters in Montevideo, Uruguay and with a team of 70 collaborators.
How is your affiliate business structured, and what aspect of business development are you currently focused on?
Differently from UE and other developed markets, Latam lacks good service suppliers for the industry. In order to boost our clients performance we offer not just a typical affiliate business, but also many products and services to improve the lifetime value of clients, like payments processing, local customer service, data analysis, legal assistance, sponsorship and many others.
Which markets do you focus on and do you see any potential in the emerging markets?
Today we are focused on Brazil, Mexico and Peru. For the next couple of years we are interested in extending our reach to Latam users. We understand that there are a lot of opportunities and also a lot of work to be done in Latam market, which has been growing exponentially in the past years, making it very attractive.
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 believe that the best way to acquire new players is through education. That's why we've been investing in online schools to teach users from their first steps on the gambling industry with the most advanced techniques from renowned influencers. Schools like escoladaaposta.com for traders, cassino.org/escola for casino's games and turfe.net for horse racing. Next year we´ll be investing more than 2 million dollars on new education channels for LATAM.
Is the grass greener on the other side - Have you considered giving white label casino or sports betting a go?
Of course many platforms offered us the service, but from Eightroom´s perspective, it would be pointless to compete with our customers in a market with many players but not many affiliates or services provider. Our business model is partnering with merchants, so we are committed to their performance in order to get our share, meaning that the green grass is along with us. We believe in working closely with the best operators in the world so they can adjust their product for Latam, so they can have the best offer with the best products to offer to our clients. The operators are our partners in this mission.
Are you concerned by the impact on the affiliate sector from shifting regulatory environments? (In particular UKGC, Sweden’s Spelinspektionen, and Germany’s 2020 State Treaty on Gaming Regulation)
We are working with Brazil where there are a lot of movements towards regulation. It is always a challenge to operate in a dynamic market where everything is about to change. But the rules in LATAM are more flexible and our strategy goes beyond affiliation, so many of our services could support the change (if there is any) while we adapt to a new environment. One thing is for sure: we are ready.
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?
Today we have a wide content network formed by the main influencers and content channels specialised in betting and also our schools, where we educate new users for sportsbook, casino and horse racing. In addition, we have our affiliate wallet VCreditos with all available payment methods, with more than 40 thousand high-value users and multiple integrated operators. We also have a platform to train and launch new influencers and affiliates to further promote the market.
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?
We are always approached by venture capitalists, but we still haven't found the right partner. It is not just a matter of money, we are looking for a partner who can add intelligence and help us to perform our strategy and expansion plans. We are open, as long as the right opportunity comes with a fair offer.
What can operators do to increase support from affiliates?
Operators need to invest in the education of their affiliates, assisting them in their journey and looking for winning models for both sides. It is important to respect the affiliate, paying him on time and with fair terms and conditions on the affiliation platforms. It is also important to know how to evaluate cases in which an upfront money financial investment is needed so that the work can be carried out with more quality and precision and the affiliate manager needs to understand that this is beneficial for the operator as well.
Which qualities and skills are essential in an affiliate team/business?
The SEO market is very competitive and is saturated. That is why it is important that the affiliate is creative and seeks differentials to win the audience. It´s also key to understand what the market needs and find new ways to supply.
How does technology play a part in your day-to-day?
Technology is in our DNA. From all management tools to the trendiest innovation for media, we are applying all. And we're also developing in-house technologies, bringing to market unique products and services like Boleto Fast®, a technology that can confirm in maximum one hour the payment of an invoice that, regularly, would be confirmed in 2 business days.
How is the Asian market shaping-up for affiliates?
We have no presence in Asia, so we are not following up on how that market is being shaped. But it´s something important to have on the radar to forecast changes and innovations.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when starting out?
That the role of the affiliate in the Brazilian and Latin American market is not limited to just acquiring customers. Instead, it´s about getting involved with the operator to help him understand the market, tropicalise his product to the local audience and assist him in identifying the support services needed for a successful operation.
What’s been your biggest nightmare to date?
Certainly the business growth process. Taking a company from the bedroom to the level we are today, with headquarters in two countries and 70 employees is something really complex. Structuring departments, defining internal policies, implementing management tools and excellence in compliance services is constant care in the conduct of our business.
What are the challenges in managing relationships with multiple operators?
When you are small and work inside your home room, it is much easier to have a relationship with the affiliate manager who just wants to help you. When you grow, you start talking to the top managers of companies (directors and C-levels) and for that it is important to participate in large events with a stand and meeting rooms, as we did at ICE 2020. And also to have qualified account managers so that they can manage the relationship with operators with dedication.
What are the benefits of attending large iGaming events, and what can they do better?
The best thing is to have most of the merchants and service providers gathered for an event. It gives you a good chance of meeting face-to-face and shake hands with operators that we might be in contact just through the web for a whole year. That is very important: we are dealing with people at the end of the day.
Have you ever been to SiGMA? Would you consider attending SiGMA Manila or SiGMA Malta at some point?
We never had the opportunity to attend any SIGMA event yet. But since we started our expansion Malta is on our radar, to attend SIGMA and present our company to merchants interested in entering Latam.
Tell us a bit about yourself – after all business is done between people, not just companies!
I started in the industry in 2014 right after finishing my marketing studies in Uruguay with a project that involved sports betting for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. This was my gateway to the world of gambling that allowed me to also come to know Eightroom, which at the time had less than 15 employees. Today I divide my time between offices, countries we visit for expansion and Europe, when we visit our customers.
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SiGMA 2020 Malta will take place November 17th - 19th 2020 at the Malta Fairs and Conventions Centre in Ta’ Qali. Positioned at the cutting edge of a very competitive industry, the event has evolved since 2014 into the definitive iGaming showcase, operating on both a European and world stage. In 2019, SiGMA’19 welcomed over 400 sponsors and exhibitors, 200 industry leading speakers and a record-breaking 15,000 attendees from over 80 countries, and in 2020 this staple in the global iGaming calendar is set to grow even bigger. To become a part of Europe's leading iGaming event, book a pass or sponsor & exhibit.
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