Affiliate Grand Slam: Meet Sebastian Agerskov

Sebastian Agerskov, CEO and founder at Traffic Lab, 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 became familiar with the affiliate space right after high school when I started working in a media agency that had affiliates promoting all sorts of products. The product range spanned a vast variety - from magazines, and insurance to finance, nutra and also iGaming. It quickly became apparent to me how the whole affiliate industry worked and also the technical aspect of it, which I found very interesting. This is also where I met my former business partner who was an iGaming affiliate, which ended up in Traffic Lab after I quit my job. 

In the beginning we were focused on what we call “normal affiliate”, which means magazines, insurance and loans, but we did also drive traffic towards iGaming operators. After realising the revenue models in iGaming we shifted all our focus towards this product niché.

 

Our multilingual website www.casinobernie.com is now live in 14 countries and already has thousands of users daily.

 

In February you moved away from the Danish market and shifted your focus towards other areas of the Nordic market, such as Finland, what makes the Finnish region so exciting?
It might have been bad communication from our side, since we have in fact actually always been active in Finland and other European countries. Currently we are active in 16 markets. In regards to the Danish market, it is true that we did sell our Danish SEO assets in the start of this year. The reasoning behind this was in a broad perspective to focus more on bigger markets and projects.
 
In terms of the Finnish market, I guess it is no secret that it has always been a very strong market with high player values hence we wanted to take our website  www.kasinohai.com to new heights among other things.
How have you been coping with the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic? Has it affected interaction between colleagues? What strategy do you have in place - is it business as usual or have you had to rethink the way you do things?
I think we have been coping well compared to other businesses. Fortunately we are an entirely online business and can easily work from home with no physical products. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak we had a good meeting schedule in order to coordinate things, with not too many or too few, so it has been quiet smooth. Although we have made some adjustments and implemented an “online Friday bar” and other fun online occasions in order to keep the spirits up for the entire team.
How is your affiliate business structured, and what aspect of business development are you currently focused on?
At Traffic Lab we try to restructure our business continuously, and it is very differently structured to what it was in the beginning when the marketing channels were more of less focused on one single channel. Right now, we have 4 “departments” so to say. The first is SEO and Content. Second is SoMe and Direct Marketing, which basically means Facebook, Instagram, email, SMS and push. The third is Tech, where we have all in-house techs in order to develop new and exiting products both for internal- and external use. As the last department we have Finance and Administration.
 
Currently we are focused on multiple channels and offer a vast variety of traffic sources for all operators. It is hard to point out one specific since we have a big team of 54 people working simultaneously on all channels.

 

Sebastian Agerskov, CEO and founder at Traffic Lab.

 

Can you tell me more about the Traffic Lab “laboratory” approach to the work environment?
Sure. Basically we want to resemble a laboratory by being a facility that provides controlled conditions in which technological research and experiments are performed. In other words we want to test everything. It can be new SEO strategies, develop new software, try out advances methods for SoMe etc. Not only for the purpose of finding the recipe to make gold, but most importantly that each individual in Traffic Lab learn and keep challenging themselves. Sometimes the experiment blows up, but then you learn and keep on trying until it works. People need to feel that they continuously develop their skills and it is no shame to fail, but rather a lesson learned. This approach also helps us to be competitive as a company. There are many other affiliates that are very clever and there is always someone that is smarter than yourself. We don’t want to be the stupid kid in class.
Which markets do you focus on and do you see any potential in the emerging markets?

 

 

We are active in approximately 16 countries, where the Nordic and Dach regions are the biggest ones. We have also obtained a licence in Romania and New Jersey where we are planting the seeds. In terms of emerging markets we do see potential in Latin America and Eastern Europe.

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?
In terms of the first question I think what makes our traffic sites unique is the fact that we try to show the end user exactly the terms that the casino operator has. For example very clearly stating which games and payment providers they offer, what is the exact bonus structure and wagering requirements etc. Something that I think is very important for the end user. For example, on our top Finnish site: www.kasinohai.com.
 
For the second question, we do continuously have exiting new things under development, whereas many I can not tell. But some time ago we launched our multilingual website  www.casinobernie.com which is now live in 14 countries and already has thousands of users daily.
Is the grass greener on the other side - Have you considered giving white label casino or sports betting a go?

Short answer is, no.

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)

Legislation is good, but I think one should always be concerned when the governments begin to interfere too much. For example you can see what has happened in one of the most profitable markets, Sweden, where they created a licence system in the start of 2019. Since the implementation there have been many occasions how to interpret the law and what marketing activities one can do. In other countries we see a continuous push to implement new legislation and some is even going to the length of altering the product itself. For example requiring no “auto spin” function on slot machines, delays on spins etc. In Germany they are proposing many of the same elements, as well as deposit limits across all operators. I am not against regulation, but I think the regulators would benefit from actually listening to the people in the the industry.

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?

Unlike many other affiliates, we do have multiple channels and traffic sources which makes us able to push a lot of traffic.

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?

Since the beginning the company has been privately owned. In the start we were two and nowadays only me. I like to keep it that way. We do not have any investors or stock exchange reporting to do, nor do we have as much administration in general. We like to stay agile and invest in the opportunities we see best. Not only what I see best, but literally speaking what we, as a team, see best. This has been a big part of the company’s success and I think it creates a working environment for all our fantastic employees where they can actually think before they create.

What can operators do to increase support from affiliates?

Transparency is everything. Let us see all the stats in your affiliate platform, give us easier API access to extract and upload stats. Give us better tracking possibilities and live data. Get more people with a technical backgrounds so they can talk with our tech and develop amazing things that benefit both parties. If you look almost all other industries that have affiliate there is much more transparency and cooperation between the affiliate and affiliate program operator. They know that sharing information is key and not withholding it.

Which qualities and skills are essential in an affiliate team/business?

Honesty and motivation. You will come a long way with those two no matter what business or team you are in. It might be that you are not the best in SEO, but if you are more motivated and learn quickly, then you will become better in the end. In other words, you can teach skills, but not motivation.

Now if you are honest and have motivation, then of course it is an advantage to possess skills in search engine optimisation, social media marketing, email marketing, programming etc.

How does technology play a part in your day-to-day?

Tech is key to everything. You can optimise so much and save time on a lot of boring manual stuff. I can not count how many things our amazing tech team has built in order for us to work fast and stay competitive. Technology is crucial for every business.

How is the Asian market shaping-up for affiliates?

Japan has been interesting for some time. In regards to the other Asian markets, I do know some of them are huge, but you need to know how to penetrate the market.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when starting out?

It is always easy to look back retrospectively, but maybe I wish I would have known more about search engine optimisation and stock markets.

What’s been your biggest nightmare to date?

I have nightmares often. That is good, because if you do not, then you are not testing or challenging yourself enough. If you want to change sometimes you have to have comfortable nightmares. In general I think all entrepreneurs have nightmares, some are short lived, some you do not wake up from. They vary in size and length so to say. It is very hard to pick one specific one.

What are the challenges in managing relationships with multiple operators?

Unfortunately I do not have much time anymore managing the relationships with operators like I used to back in the days. Although, we have a great team that try to use a lot of time to understand the needs for each operator. One of the challenges is that we are situated in Copenhagen, hence we are far away from the operators on Malta. This makes it harder for us to nurture relationships.

What are the benefits of attending large iGaming events, and what can they do better?

As I think many other affiliates have mentioned, meeting your clients, providers, business partners etc. in person. No matter how digitalised we become you always get a better understanding of the person when meeting them face to face. In addition I think one of the benefits attending the iGaming conferences is the fact that you get inspired. Not only by others, but you also get new ideas.

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

Yes I have attended SIGMA Malta several times, but would like to attend Manila as well.

Tell us a bit about yourself – after all business is done between people, not just companies!
Favourite holiday?

Hard one. Depends on the people around you, but maybe a recent trip to Lake Como.

Favourite book?

I am not much of a reader, which is a shame, but the latest I liked was Work Rules by Laszlo Bock.

Where would you relocate with family if you had to pick?

To my neighbours house so I can stay where I am.

Favourite quote?

Life is just like a game of chess, some pieces can move further than others, but even the pawn can take the queen.

 

Get to know other great affiliates, responsible for killer traffic! Click the link below to read more insights from affiliates:

 

About SiGMA Expo:

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.

Our ground breaking Asian iGaming expo will be held in Manila, on the 27th & 28th of May 2021. SiGMA's largest venue to date will bring together high quality conferences and content, premium networking opportunities, and luxury networking event. 10,000 delegates from across Europe, the US, and Asia are expected to attend, making this one of the biggest shows to unite East and West in the region.  To become a part of the fastest paced Asian iGaming event, book a pass or sponsor & exhibit.

For those planning to attend SiGMA events in 2020, this is the buzzing business environment to be expected:

 

 

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