Glenn Debattista, Head of Product at ThePuntersPage, joins the latest series of affiliate interviews on Affiliate Grand Slam
Believing that the sky is the limit, Glenn's and his team's goal at ThePuntersPage is to keep getting bigger, with the user being their focal point in order to become the go-to site for all sports betting related topics - follow his story below.
How did your affiliate business take off? And, is iGaming your only vertical?
I have been in the iGaming industry here in Malta for over 15 years, with most of my experience being in Sports Betting, on the operator’s side. I joined Web International Services Ltd in late 2019 as a Product Manager for the Sports betting vertical, during which time WIS acquired ThePuntersPage to be the company’s betting flagship product in the UK market. I was intrigued and enthusiastic by the idea of bringing my ideas and experience to an iGaming company which is not an operator. I was also looking forward to learn more about this side of the business to further enrich my knowledge in this industry. So far it has been a very satisfying and gratifying journey, both for myself and ThePuntersPage, where the numbers have consistently grown month after month. The sky is the limit and our goal is to keep on getting bigger, with the user being our focal point in order to become the go-to site for all sports betting related topics.
As a Head of Product, I lead our Department’s Product Managers who all have different verticals and portals to take care of, including Sports Betting, Casino, eSports, and Finance.
How did you first get into the affiliate space? And, were you always focused on the Gaming space?
I try to keep myself informed of anything related to the iGaming world, but despite the fact that I knew about the affiliate business and how it functions, I never worked directly with affiliates. Then, once I started working on ThePuntersPage, I began to understand and appreciate more the Affiliates’ world.
I can say that my career has almost always revolved around iGaming, and therefore this has been my full focus for over 15 years now.
How is your company structured, and what aspect of business development are you currently focused on?
With regards to ThePuntersPage, I oversee the overall product, to align the content, design, and development of the site. This is done in conjunction with our Content Strategist who runs the day-to-day operations, as well as with the Lead Developer and Designers for this particular portal. This kind of setup is then mirrored across all of our main affiliate websites.
What can operators do to increase support with affiliates?
The Affiliate team is the one who are in direct contact with the operators, so this is probably a question directed more towards them. However, from a product point of view, I would say that it would be better if betting offers (welcome bonus, etc.) are more easily accessible in order to be quicker in delivering the best promotions to the users.
How can affiliates be more unique in their approach?
I believe in having an innovative style when putting your product out there. Just being a photocopy of other affiliate sites will not get you anywhere; you also need to create the maximum value for the user. One can be innovative by either doing something no one else has done before, or else improving on previous ideas and making them your own. The approach should always be to be innovative while satisfying the user’s needs
What makes your traffic proposition/traffic sites unique?
Coming from the operators’ side, as well as being a punter myself, it makes me more in tune with what the users are after, therefore the direction is to put the users’ needs first to help them satisfy their requirements.
Which qualities and skills are essential in an affiliate team/business?
Particularly in the sports affiliate business, it is important to keep up-to-date with what is happening across the sports world. This allows you to prepare yourself from way before, in order to set the pace rather than just reacting to what is happening.
What sets you apart from other affiliates?
Our company is made up of different individuals with different characteristics. This allows us to be varied and unique in our working style, but at the same time work in synergy to reach our monthly goals.
How does technology play a part in your day-to-day?
Technology allows us to work efficiently and effectively on a daily basis. During this pandemic period, we have in fact been able to work seamlessly both remotely from home, and from the office, and the quality of work has not gone down… on the contrary, some might say that it has improved!
Which emerging technologies like AI and big data will impact the affiliate industry in 2020 and beyond?
AI has always intrigued me and from what I read and hear, its importance will keep on increasing, even in the affiliate business.
Is the grass greener on the other side - have you considered going down the operator route?
I come from a 15-year operators’ background in Sports betting, so I can easily answer that both sides are green in the same way. They both offer different, but equally enticing challenges, so at the end of the day it’s down to the individuals to see what they prefer.
Which markets are you eyeing up as a priority in 2020, and why?
There are many new emerging markets, including Africa, North America, Japan, and India. The opportunities are quite vast in fact.
How has the fragmentation of regulated markets affected your business? UKGC, Swedish regulator and now also the German regulator is mulling regulating this space.
This means that both operators and affiliates need to thread carefully here as you need to be compliant in these different regions, with each one of them having their own regulations to follow.
How is the Asian market shaping-up for affiliates?
I think India is the one with the highest potential, with online gaming expected to grow from 2019’s $840 million to $3.4 billion in 2024!
What do you know now that you wish you knew when starting out?
When starting out, 8 or 9 out of 10 ideas you might have end up failing. So, until you reach a level where you know very well what will work and what won’t, you need to spend a lot of time and energy experimenting. If I knew what would have worked straight away, I would have saved a lot of time, even though it’s through failing that you gain most experience and knowledge.
What’s been your biggest nightmare to date?
Compliance issues, which have been accentuated by the recent pandemic have been the biggest nightmare, as you need to be on the ball all the time.
What are the main challenges for the sector in 2020?
Coronavirus was obviously the biggest challenge we all have faced, especially the operators and affiliates who are focused on Sports betting. However, when I see a challenge, I see it as an opportunity to be innovative and think outside the box. With this mindset, we were able to counter the Coronavirus period with content about particular sports or products we usually might not have written about (who would have thought that Table Tennis or the Belarus Premier League would have become the hottest sports betting markets!), but instead we have now opened new doors for us, which have left us in a better position than where we were before the pandemic started in mid-March.
What are your predictions for the future of the sector?
With so many new markets emerging, I believe that this sector will keep on growing stronger in the coming years. Some people feel that Europe is becoming saturated (I don’t think so), but there are other continents to go after and the highest peak you can reach is just up to you and your will to succeed (the sky is the limit!).
How do you manage relationships with multiple operators?
These are usually handled by the Affiliate department, therefore our department has little or no direct relationship with the operators. Indirectly we try to keep a good relationship by towing the compliance line as well as sending potential good clients their way.
What are the benefits of attending large iGaming events, and what can they do better?
I truly believe that in this industry networking is a huge factor for success. These iGaming events are a platform to network and are therefore extremely important for all those working in this sector.
What can be better? Maybe they can be done more often!
Have you ever been to SiGMA? Would you consider attending SiGMA Manila or SiGMA Malta at some point?
I have been attending SiGMA Malta for the past 4 years, and it feels it is getting bigger and better every year. Well done to all for organizing it!
Tell us a bit about yourself – after all, business is done with people, not just companies!
I’ve just started life (life starts at 40, right?), married and with 2 kids who can at times be more difficult to handle than compliance issues by operators! I love sports - in particular I follow football (Italian and English leagues mainly) and NBA, but I could watch any sporting event that comes up on TV – music (in particular 90s brit rock) and playing PlayStation with my kids.
What’s on your must-read list right now?
Nowadays I mostly read informative books and articles, mainly related to my work. However, and especially when I was younger, I used to love science fiction and fantasy fiction – I must have read The Lord of the Rings half a dozen times. Nowadays I read at a slower pace, and I’m still going through the Game of Thrones books.
Which quote do you live your life by?
“There are no problems, only solutions” by John Lennon. And I try to live by this, as any challenge or problem we encounter, I try to turn it into an opportunity or new out-of-the-box idea!
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