Sebastian Agerskov, CEO & Founder at Traffic Lab ApS, joins the latest series of affiliate interviews on Affiliate Grand Slam
How did your affiliate business take off? And, is iGaming your only vertical?
In the beginning it was all kinds of stuff, not just iGaming. But we quickly realized that iGaming was a very attractive market in affiliate marketing and started focusing solely on that. It really started with email marketing but today we are using many different channels in a lot of different countries. We excel in both paid traffic and SEO and of course we haven’t forgotten our roots in email marketing either.
How did you first get into the affiliate space? And, were you always focused on the Gaming space?
Traffic Lab was built to create an opportunity for employees to have a safe space and fun place to experiment within. The affiliate industry is a great place, to achieve the combination of freedom and experiment. We’re sure we could shift our focus to most industries, but the playfulness of gambling makes it appealing to our fundamental company culture.
How is your company structured, and what aspect of business development are you currently focused on?
Traffic Lab is by now a rather large operation compared to just some years ago. We’ve been scaling in number of people basically since day 1. Therefore, we have spent a lot of time trying to create structures for the organization to perform as good as possible. We have a lot of super skilled colleagues in Traffic Lab and we are continuously trying to create the best possible framework for them to do their job. I am quite certain that this aspect is something we will focus more and more on as the organization grows and develops further.
What can operators do to increase support with affiliates?
Be more transparent. The iGaming niche has not developed much in terms of transparency between operators and affiliates. The lack of live statistics results in the fact that affiliate have difficulties to advertise in lower margin countries where it all matters about optimizing ads.
How can affiliates be more unique in their approach?
What is unique may I ask? I think all have affiliates have their charm by having different approaches to things such as how they handle partners, marketing channels, strategy, etc.
What makes your traffic proposition/traffic sites unique?
I think it is difficult to be completely unique, but in general we have multiple marketing channels we use to advertise with. We do not only have many SEO sites, but also PPC, SoME, Email, SMS, Push and Display.
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?
Which qualities and skills are essential in an affiliate team/business?
There is no individual skill that is the most important, but requires a variety of skills in order to balance out each other's strengths and weaknesses. Especially when you have a larger organization with multiple channels and geos. It goes all from marketing skills to finance skills, from tech skills to content skills, HR to business strategy, etc.
What sets you apart from other affiliates?
Many affiliates tend to have a focus on certain channels be it SEO, SoMe, Email, SMS, or other channels. We have multiple. Also, what might set us apart is the way we think. Generally, I have learned that there is always someone better than you, so we try to think that everyone is better than us. This means that we will never stop challenging ourselves even though we might rank the best in a given country, or create the best performing ads etc. We try to learn individually from absolutely as many of our competitors, or “affiliate colleagues”, if you like.
How does technology play a part in your day-to-day?
We have a very big and incredibly talented tech team with developers that build both internal and external products, which we use every day. All from link systems, asset systems, statistics, content, etc. I think it is a weird question since if technology doesn’t play a part in your day-to-day then don’t be online.
Which emerging technologies like AI and big data will impact the affiliate industry in 2020 and beyond?
Big data has been impacting the affiliate industry for some time now (or at least should be for all affiliates). Virtual AI technology is very interesting with voice and also facial recognition that I can see be used in this industry on a big scale. Also I think there are many things to learn from Asia especially in regards to their whole payment infrastructure and how it works.
Is the grass greener on the other side - have you considered going down the operator route?
Which markets are you eyeing up as a priority in 2020, and why?
How has the fragmentation of regulated markets affected your business?
UKGC, Swedish regulator and now also the German regulator is mulling regulating this space.
UK has been a bit messy for some time. Sweden did as it did with everyone else. Let’s see about Germany, but most likely it will affect in some degree.
How is the Asian market shaping-up for affiliates?
That is absolutely interesting.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when starting out?
There is no much you learn on the way so it is difficulty to pick individually, but If I had to choose. Search Engine Optimization, Social Media Marketing, Legal, M&A procedures, and advanced industry knowledge.
What’s been your biggest nightmare to date?
I have had so many so I can’t even remember them. But that is part of every business, so let’s try to learn and forget, then move on.
What are the main challenges for the sector in 2020?
Firstly, Bad regulation, where the legislators do not think before they pass a bill. Secondly, Banking issues due to the fact that the iGaming niche is high risk for the banks because of money laundering issues. I think it is important to fight money laundering, but unfortunately it can cause problems for the majority of the sector that in fact have their internal procedures in place. Thirdly, Transparency between operators and affiliates, which need to improve significantly.
What are your predictions for the future of the sector?
Generally, Gambling has been one of the oldest professions in history besides some other ones, so it will thrive no matter the obstacles. In addition reading about statistics the iGaming market is absolutely not yet finished from going from offline to online. Although I do predict that more operators will have to close down due to the highly competitive industry, or at least focus on fewer brands and make them exceptional instead of having tons of brands done second handedly. Overall the future looks bright.
How do you manage relationships with multiple operators?
We have an outstanding accounts and commercial team that handles all requests we might get from our partners and the same the other way around. It is difficult to work with hundreds of partners, but we continuously try to improve ourselves with internal systems to help us optimize our time and efforts.
What are the benefits of attending large iGaming events, and what can they do better?
It is always a pleasure to meet intelligent people, which you really do on conferences. Not only do you get to discuss about issues, news and ideas on the conference itself, but afterwards feels more enlightened.
Have you ever been to SiGMA? Would you consider attending SiGMA Manila or SiGMA Malta at some point?
Yes, I have been multiple times and we will be there.
Tell us a bit about yourself - after all, business is done with people, not just companies!
I have a lovely wife and a little boy on the way. I live in Copenhagen and I like Gammel Dansk. What more is there to say publicly. Feel free to talk to me personally.
Which quote do you live your life by?
I like quotes, some fun, some sentimental, but to live by them is quiet much said. But I guess all people live by one: Eat, Sleep, Repeat.