Risto Myllymäki, CEO & Co-Founder of Good Luck Media Ltd, joins the latest series of affiliate interviews on Affiliate Grand Slam
Risto Myllymäki of Bonuskoodit, Good Luck Media, has been in the industry since 1999. Before jumping into the affiliate business, he was working on the operator's side, which makes him experienced in both sides of the industry - follow his story below.
When and why did you start considering affiliate business as a career?
I have been in the gaming industry since 1999 when I started working in the Finnish government gaming monopoly Raha-automaattiyhdistys (now Veikkaus). At that time I didn't understand that Veikkaus was probably one of the biggest operators giving out revenue share to its affiliates: brick and mortar kiosks, supermarkets and petrol stations which had Veikkaus' slot machines inside.
When I came to Malta 10 years ago and started to work with online gaming on the operator's side I really understood the value of affiliation. I was working on the operator’s side for about 8 years and saw that the affiliate side of the business could be interesting for multiple reasons. Such as less dependencies on third parties, but instead just working with just one contact point, the affiliate manager of each operator.
I also wanted some new challenges, so jumping to the affiliate business was quite a natural way to start learning new things like SEO.
How did your affiliate business take off? And, is iGaming your only vertical?
We've been grinding with a small team for two and half years and the hard work is starting to pay off. We launched a few Finnish sites within the first two months. And all of them have grown nicely and steady - we believe due to the useful content for the readers. For example, people who want to know about bonuses can find good tips on our specific casino bonus page at Bonuskoodit.com.
Right now we have multiple sites and more is coming. We are doing mainly SEO, so we knew right from the start that it will take time to start ranking. And a lot of patience.
What were your biggest challenges when first starting?
I think the challenges have changed along the way. In the beginning our bottleneck was not having enough developers. Or, maybe, the problem was that we were trying to push too many projects at the same time. But we have learned the lessons and have adapted quite well.
How did you scale up your affiliate business?
They key for our growth has been recruiting and outsourcing more resources when needed. We believe we have scaled quite efficiently, but now that I think, we probably could have scaled even faster by making some recruitment decisions even earlier.
Our developers have also done a great job in building tech solutions which help us scale.
What motivates you to promote more, and what helps you boost your motivation?
Numbers motivate such as the clicking of the refresh-button. Getting great content out motivates. To be able to work anywhere at any time motivates. Having great guys and gals working in the company motivates. And of course trying to beat the best in the industry gives us great motivation.
What aspect of business development are you currently focused on?
We are now focusing on expanding to new GEOs. On a daily basis we have a big focus on the technical part of SEO.
Which markets are you eyeing up as a priority and why? Do you see any potential in the emerging markets?
Finland is our core market but we are also looking to English speaking markets, more specifically the US markets with our site Coinflip.com, starting with New Jersey. And yes, there's plenty of potential in the emerging markets.
Which niches work best for your affiliate marketing, and which are the most profitable? How did you find your most profitable niche?
Our niche isn't anything special or unique, it is iGaming SEO affiliation. We knew that it was profitable right from the start.
What makes your traffic proposition/traffic sites unique?
We believe we are able to create much better content for our readers than what our competitors are doing. We used to be operators and within the gaming industry for many years. Not only online but also on the land based side of the business. All of this background gives us the ability to put more insight to our content. In the long run this is important for growing a good steady traffic base.
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? Have you considered going down the operator route?
We are in a good situation where we can scale everything ourselves, but we don't say no to good suggestions and ideas to grow even more.
Going back to the operators side is not really our interest right now as we are having fun doing affiliation.
Which qualities and skills are essential in an affiliate team/business?
One needs to have a very varied skill set to be able to run an affiliate business, it is just that competitive nowadays. You need to know marketing, analytics, technical, content, conversion optimization, and also legal aspects.
What sets you apart from other affiliates?
We have a Moccamaster and a golden sofa in our office. On top of that, we are quite detail oriented. For example, we often see landing pages and content on many casinos with very clear typos or something else that kills conversion and the reliability of a brand. And we immediately inform all our partners about them with suggestions to improve.
We like to help our partners as much as possible. We have helped in testing for example Pay N Play payments with multiple new Trustly casinos in Finland.
How important is social media activity for your affiliate business? How difficult is it with Google's constant updates?
We are doing mostly SEO, so Google's updates are critical to us. It's not really that difficult, just follow Google's best practices and very clear documentation and you will be good.
How does technology play a part in your day-to-day?
We build cutting edge mobile technology solutions in order to beat the competition.
Which emerging technologies like AI and big data will impact the affiliate industry in 2021 and beyond?
AI already helps Google to understand what content is good and what is great. It will be fun to see how well affiliates will start using AI within the coming years, for example in creating content.
How has the fragmentation of regulated markets affected your business? UKGC, Swedish regulator and now also the German regulator is mulling regulating this space.
Regulation has an impact on everyone. You just have to live with it and have a good plan if the impact of regulation is critical to your business. We follow regulation of course very closely and try to make the best decisions when we go to new markets.
How is the Asian market shaping-up for affiliates?
There's plenty of people in Asia, so I suppose it is great business over there. We don't have focus in the Asian markets as of now. But you never know!
How do you see the future of affiliate business?
The future looks awesome! Affiliation is one of the best and cost efficient marketing channels for products and services. And online spending just keeps on growing and getting easier and faster. Therefore, affiliation will grow along it.
How do you manage relationships with multiple operators? What can operators do to increase support with affiliates?
We love to get as much news as possible from operators so we can ensure that our content is up to date for our visitors. Some of them are doing a great job in this perspective, but there's plenty of operators from whom we don't get much information or updates. We just need a quick channel like Skype to discuss and get answers and that's it.
What are the benefits of attending large iGaming events, and what can they do better?
Events are great especially if you are a new affiliate. You will get all the key contact information and face to match in one place.
Have you ever been to SiGMA? If not, would you consider attending SiGMA Manila or SiGMA Malta at some point?
I have attended many SiGMA events right from the start, including Manila and New Jersey. Manila was good for getting some new contacts. NJ was really at the early stages of US markets opening, so there weren't many operators there. Probably next time, whenever it will be possible to arrange, it will be a bigger success.
Tell 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 iGaming yourself, etc.
During my free time I enjoy a round of golf with friends, running marathons (very rarely), watching series on Netflix, and of course the best part is to follow our son growing and exploring the world.
About SiGMA Rebranding:
SiGMA Group has just unveiled the face of its rebranded website. Through a commitment to quality and years of successful operations, SiGMA has nurtured the development of a strong brand, allowing for its evolution into a global influencer on the gaming and tech stage. The new layout offers a holistic user experience, reflecting a shift in the gaming industry towards a more global perspective, as well as SiGMA's growing international portfolio as it launches new core events across 4 continents.