Rami Ben Ahron, Director at Three Spring Media, joins the latest series of affiliate interviews on Affiliate Grand Slam
Whilst currently focused on the US market and expanding their App campaigns, Rami Ben Ahron and his team are constantly trying out new verticals - follow his story below.
How did your affiliate marketing business take off? And, is iGaming your only vertical?
We were very lucky to start a few months prior to the World Cup when operators could take large volumes of players. This gave some breathing space and capital to continue to expand our business when the World Cup ended. Sometimes timing can either make or break a business.
Initially yes, iGaming was our only vertical. We came from William Hill and so this vertical was very familiar to us. We have since expanded to many other verticals including dating, VPN, ecommerce, streaming and more. It took time to adjust to these new verticals with very different KPI’s and marketing channels. We are also very focused on App campaigns in all verticals and Worldwide. We also run many of our media and App campaigns in-house with our dedicated media buyers.
How did you first get into the affiliate marketing space? And, were you always focused on the Gaming space?
I worked as an affiliate manager for William Hill for many years. It was there that I can definitely say that I began my love affair with affiliate marketing. After they closed the Tel Aviv office, it was an opportunity to start our own business and see where it would lead. The iGaming space is admittedly the one I most enjoy because of fond memories of my time at William Hill.
How is your company structured, and what aspect of business development are you currently focused on?
We have a really good team that gets along extremely well and we all have the same goal to provide quality traffic and offers. It can be all time consuming and there are times when you need to just say tomorrow is another day. At the moment we are very focused on the US market and expanding our App campaigns. We are constantly trying new verticals and hopefully, we can continue to expand our marketing channels.
What can operators do to increase support with affiliates?
I think one important factor is to automate the affiliate needs as much as possible. From pixel implementation to creatives and links. Many platforms are a mind field and this causes unnecessary delays. It’s really important that operators choose platforms that are extremely user friendly. This will also alleviate their workload.
How can affiliates be more unique in their approach?
An affiliate who wants to join an affiliate network needs to really sell themselves and prove they have quality traffic. This industry is inundated with fraud and affiliates who promise PPC traffic with incent results. Just be honest with affiliate networks and operators about the quality of your 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?
Not at the moment. We really enjoy this business and it has grown at a comfortable rate for our team to continue to expand our business without the need for investors at this stage. Who knows what the future holds. Especially in the current Corona situation. We have, like many other businesses learned to adapt to the new business environment and find offers that will work in today’s market.
Which qualities and skills are essential in an affiliate marketing team/business?
It’s trying to constantly find quality partners to work with. Do what you can to keep them part of your team. As an affiliate running media channels you really need to do constant testing and be patient. Some campaigns can take longer than others to be ROI positive but set achievable goals. Media buying is definitely a marathon and not a sprint.
What sets you apart from other affiliate marketers?
Our main focus is always to make sure our team are attentive to the needs of our advertisers and Publishers. My partners will attest to the fact that I find it hard not to reply to every email and Skype message immediately. I do not like to keep people waiting. Having run a small business previously for over 12 years, what set us apart is our customer service. That and a very strong work ethic. Results always come from hard work and determination but the most important thing is your reputation.
How does technology play a part in your day-to-day?
It is Paramount to most aspects of my life. Definitely saved my sanity during Corona lockdown by keeping the kids busy with video games and movies. The main fear working from home and especially in these times is the internet going down. But in saying that I still like the traditional methods of communication and never miss an opportunity to get on a call with operators and partners. It’s very easy to just get by with emails, Skype etc. But it is essential to have some personal communication.
Which emerging technologies like AI and big data will impact the affiliate marketing industry in 2020 and beyond?
We are starting to move towards an automated business structure. As technology develops, we find less need for manual updates and uploads. This is especially true with our media buying today with many programs available that will automate the bids, optimization and more.
Is the grass greener on the other side - have you considered going down the operator route?
I think its safe to say that many affiliates have contemplated having their own online Casino or Sportsbook. But having worked for William Hill I have seen what goes into that endeavour and it’s not something that interests us a business.
Which markets are you eyeing up as a priority in 2020, and why?
We will be heavily focused on the USA market with the increase of online Casino and Sports operators and more States being open to online gambling. We will also be pushing other verticals in the USA and we see it as our next big market after tough regulations in the UK have made running successful campaigns difficult.
How has the fragmentation of regulated markets affected your business? UKGC, Swedish regulator and now also the German regulator is mulling regulating this space.
Changes in regulation are part and parcel of this industry and you have to learn to quickly adapt to any new regulations. This is why you cannot get tied down to one specific geo.
How is the Asian market shaping-up for affiliates?
For us, it’s still a work in progress but we hope to start pushing traffic in the coming months. We have started to see some minimal results in India so hopefully, that will continue to other geos.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when starting out?
What’s been your biggest nightmare to date?
Payment defaults. When companies such as Moplay close the doors and you are owed a significant amount of money it can have a big effect on your business. We are lucky in that we were able to sustain the losses. But I would recommend doing background checks with any new operators you are not familiar with. We have also had many payment issues with small brands so now we do our homework before going live with any new operator.
What are the main challenges for the sector in 2020?
The main challenge will be constantly adapting to the Coronavirus. We may see sports come and go and also lockdowns will have an impact on the types of verticals to promote. For example, verticals like streaming and meal delivery have dramatically increased due to lockdowns. It’s essential to be on top of all changes and adapt accordingly.
What are your predictions for the future of the sector?
I see the sector expanding as people see the ability to find a comfortable revenue stream working from home. I also believe that most companies today see the intrinsic value in affiliation and are doing what they can to recruit quality affiliates.
How do you manage relationships with multiple operators?
We maintain constant communication and feedback regarding our campaigns and make sure the operators are happy with the traffic and that we are also getting the best deal possible.
What are the benefits of attending large iGaming events, and what can they do better?
The face to face interactions are extremely important. We find that we can understand the needs of our customers and operators better after we speak to them one on one. There are also plenty of new opportunities and a chance to learn more about new and up and coming markets.
I think having better signage for stand locations is very important. Most people are running from one meeting to next and spending even a few wasted minutes looking for the booth is time that could be better spent in the actual meeting.
Have you ever been to SiGMA? Would you consider attending SiGMA Manila or SiGMA Malta at some point?
Yes, I have attended Sigma Malta many times and also attended Affiliate Grand Slam in Kiev. Manila is a problem in terms of distance so not on the cards.
Tell us a bit about yourself - after all, business is done with people, not just companies!
Born and raised in Melbourne Australia. Moved to Israel 7 years ago. Married with 2 kids and due to Corona will be forced by my wife and kids to get a dog.
P.S. Upon completing the interview we got the dog.
What’s on your must-read list right now?
John Grisham fan so reading Rogue Lawyer now
Which quote do you live your life by?
If you’re not on the edge you’re taking up too much space
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