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"Our needs are being met with decentralised crypto options, which are bringing both new challenges and opportunities" - Federico Simoni

Federico Simoni, Director of Monete Ltd, joins the latest series of affiliate interviews on Affiliate Grand Slam

Federico Simoni and his team at Monete Ltd are never looking for easy money or to tempt someone into joining an inefficient deal. Their sites are a live stream of bonuses, users get new promos daily, and can submit promos in exchange for daily rewards - follow his story below.

How did Monete Ltd take off? Is iGaming your only vertical?

My business started off from my strong desire of being self-sufficient and independent. I could not settle for a yes man job so I looked for new opportunities. I always try to stay open and learn new things. 17 years ago I stumbled upon my first online casino and that was the beginning of this long story.

Having studied arts and being connected to the digital world, I’ve mixed my passion with my strive to gain profit and multiplying resources.

iGaming has been for a long time the only vertical, and it has paid off. But it comes a time when you realise you need to avoid holding all eggs in one basket, especially considering how volatile and unpredictable the industry has proven to be in the past years. I always keep my hands into many different experiments, but only recently I’ve started investing in them with more consistency. No spoilers though!

What makes your traffic proposition/traffic sites unique?

What I believe sets us apart is the structure of the site, focusing on community building and rewards. I believe our users are passionate players who enjoy digging a lot for good offers. Therefore, we give them just that: a super wide range of options and a live stream of new promos every day.

Users find the interface accessible as the live stream of bonuses is similar to social media streams, and just like social platforms, anyone can contribute by adding content, with the huge benefit of being rewarded for it.

What sets you apart from other affiliates?

I have nothing but tons of respect for my fellow affiliates; I think we share some common values and skills in general. That being said, we’re never looking for easy money or to tempt someone into joining an inefficient deal. We’re absolutely always aiming to make it win-win for both us and the operators, and we’re working solely with respectful partners, as we’re being honest and respectful ourselves.

It’s the long term run we come for.

Tell us a bit more about your business model, concept, and culture.

We’re still a relatively small team, even if we have been established for many years now. Several times, I’ve had some desire to expand, but one must always bite what can be chewed. Keeping the team small means we can get the freedom to experiment: we aim to multiply the success recipes and look for new paths to expand. Every month we work on new projects to see what gets traction, keeping ourselves motivated and creative.

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Tell us a bit more about your future plans.

I feel that in a few years the industry will be narrowing a lot. Big data and innovative tools for advertisement will make it more difficult for traditional affiliates to survive. And there will be a tendency of aggregating small businesses into bigger ones (it happens already). This is why it is fundamental to stay on track, stay up to date, and customise your work according to the latest tech and trends.

We’re multiplying the success stories we’ve had so far, while building new ones along the way. Diversifying the verticals and looking at better ways to engage our users.

Who knows, hope we’ll speak again via an interview in 5 years time and see how (positive) things are.

Fiat vs Crypto: Pros and Cons. What can you tell us?

It’s clearer than ever that the world is changing to its ever core, finance included. In almost every nuance, industry, and social activities. Centralised finances are slowly becoming an outdated tool, which no longer satisfy needs for privacy and control. Cryptocurrencies are coming up strong, bringing both new challenges and opportunities.

Cryptos are a great opportunity, not only as an investment. A few projects show real value and purpose to be ground-breaking tools, we look at those with great excitement. On the other side, there’s a long way to reach a less niche audience, and this path is made of better accessibility, ease of use, reliable and fast transactions, cheaper fees.

The coins' volatility is another factor which makes it difficult for cryptos to become the sole answer. In the future they must be less susceptible to market mood swings and speculations.

As of today, cryptos can’t replace fiat, I believe a mix is a good solution. And we should definitely keep an eye on the progress and learn as much as possible.

What are in your opinion the advantages of crypto over fiat currency?

Cryptos are an incredibly agile tool: they can enable new ways to build business models. We were the perfect example. They can make the difference for startups who need easy micropayment solutions, without the stale and technical limits imposed by banks (and fees). Crypto is the starting point for an entirely different approach and mindset, any business that wants to stay relevant should look at ways to take advantage of it.

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What are the main challenges of SEO today and how are they different from just a few years ago? Which SEO factors are not in your control?

The greatest challenge of all is Google, of course. All the updates and the change in algorithms can sometimes be damaging and out of our control. Sometimes we simply can’t tell what specific factor has triggered a decrease in our traffic or which change made things suddenly worse. It can be demotivating, but we try to do damage control and always look and find the issues, fixing them in a proper manner.

Why is SEO important for gaming and how long does it take to see results from SEO?

I strongly believe SEO traffic is the most valuable and reliable. Pure, authentic content will always appeal to real users, it does require a lot of patience to build quality content though and it can take years until you see some real good results. But it is worth it.

How important is social media activity for your affiliate business? How difficult is it with Google's constant updates?

Social media is now inevitably a key aspect of our lives, and it can’t be missing from the affiliate activity either. It is limited though by GEOs and regulations in specific countries, also by strong monopoly held by operators, which can set up impossible prices (when it comes to Google Ads, for instance).

We’ve found Twitter and Instagram were better media to get to the right audience.

Which markets are you eyeing up as a priority and why? Do you see any potential in the emerging markets?

The industry is shifting a lot, it has been very dynamic in the past 2 years or so, and we’ll see a lot of changes in the future. We always reassess our strategy and plans due to the changes in regulations and compliance matters, but also want to be catching the emerging opportunities fast. There’s a lot of potential in the Asian markets or Nordic Europe but we like to focus on audiences that we know, as we can better provide value for users and embrace the pace of a fast moving market.

Which niches work best for your affiliate marketing, and which are the most profitable? How did you find your most profitable niche?

Trial and error. Casinos work best for us, even though we do have bingo, poker, and lottery sections too. Some work better, you have to do your research, see if it’s worth trying and go for it. Then switch accordingly. Forex type products for instance didn't work out.

We’re also developing websites for non-gambling related products; with those you need more patience before gaining track and better long-term value.

How does technology play a part in your day-to-day? Which SEO tools do you use? Link tracking tools, translation software tools, heat tracking maps - what's your favourite must have tools out there? Can you share a few of those and tell us what makes them so indispensable?

Technology is indispensable, of course. We’re using a lot of different tools; we try and see which are more relevant. SemRush and HotJar are just two notable ones. Tools like Semrush help us better understand our traffic, as well as our competitors’ audience, while HotJar is very useful for a deeper understanding of our visitors’ behavior. This is a key in being able to better meet their needs in the future and anticipate their requirements.

Tools which offer a sort of feedback for your audience and traffic are absolutely mandatory for every SEO affiliate.

Which emerging technologies like AI and big data will impact the affiliate industry in 2021 and beyond?

The gaming offer has increased a lot over the past few years, with platforms that offer a huge range of games and experiences. Mindful use of data could have a huge impact allowing for a personalisation of services, and increase the level of satisfaction of users and retention.

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’s been affecting all affiliates quite severely. The UKGC one has been complicated, demanding, and almost ruining this GEO sector for us. We understand the need for regulation, but it feels like sometimes it’s just a means to give huge fines to operators. They aren’t working to understand how the industry really works and they don’t care to ensure its continuity, so it’s difficult to reach a common ground.

How do you manage relationships with multiple operators? What can operators do to increase support with affiliates?

I have a great team who does magic, we invest a lot of time and effort into it. Good communication and attention to details makes the difference for our business.

As to your 2nd question here, the level of commitment and proactiveness has improved so much over the past years.

Something to watch out for is the user interface of the affiliate tracking platform. Offering more in-depth details and paying more attention to what data they display. Too often data are not disaggregated or worse, info within the stats appears to be incomplete or incorrect. I would hope, after so many years in the industry, that these issues would be matters of the past for operators. Moreover, in case of the new platforms and white labels, I’ve noticed the tendency of account managers is behaving a bit too much as if they’re part of a sales team. Of course, it’s also about that, but honesty and reliability are super important, so building relationships on the long term is essential. Some of them could do a bit better in the soft skills department.

How can affiliates be more unique in their approach?

Affiliates provide value to the industry when they put their creativity at the service of the business and the users. Successful affiliates innovate the kind of services they offer to players. I think affiliates should find their own niche of user needs, catering those with fresh eyes, experimenting on paths that haven’t been explored before.

Have you ever been to SiGMA? SiGMA Europe, Africa, Asia, or Americas - which of these four expo shows would you likely book on your diary for 2021, COVID-19 permitting?

COVID meant we were unable to set plans for future events, which of course affects business, but also our team personally. Expos are opportunities to close deals, but first and foremost to have fun and create bonds, within our team and with our partners. We can’t wait to go back to our events in Europe.

FedericoSimoniDesignTell us a bit about yourself - after all, business is done with people, not just companies! Your hobbies, favourite book, favourite quote, whether you are into Gaming yourself, etc.

I’m a collector, an artist, and a highly sociable person (current context isn’t allowing me to fully enjoy this part sadly). I love technology, both old and new, I compose music and draw when time allows and inspiration kicks in. I'm a gamer myself, that’s probably how I discovered this world in the first place. The biggest feature of my personality is that I like to focus on many different subjects, often very distant, from tech to art, to games, to finance. I create a thread that links all these things and get myself super passionate about them, often forgetting the difference between night and day. Often people only know me for one of these things and get surprised when they find there’s so much more to it.

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