Staffan Arvidson, CEO of Solomedia, joins the latest series of affiliate interviews on Affiliate Grand Slam
Staffan Arvidson and his team at SvenskaSpelare.Casino, Solomedia, want a site where players find honest and accurate information about Swedish licensed online casinos and games. Responsible gaming is a big part of their site and in their articles they mention its importance - follow his story below.
How did you first get into the affiliate space? And, were you always focused on the Gaming space?
I have always been interested in the gaming industry, and have also worked with a gaming company. It's from there that I came in contact with the affiliate side of the business. I feel that it's more rewarding for me to work as an affiliate as it gives a lot more freedom in an exciting industry.
What makes your traffic and sites unique and what sets you apart from other affiliates?
There is a lot of competition in the casino affiliate space, so if you want to enter it, you need to create something unique. Our philosophy is quite simple. We want a site that helps our visitors to understand all aspects of playing at an online casino. We take the time to be very thorough with our content so that our visitors can get as much value out of it as possible.
Tell us a bit more about your business model, concept, and culture.
We want a site where players always can find honest and accurate information about Swedish licensed online casinos and games. If you are completely new to gaming, you can visit our page to get a greater understanding of how it works. For example, what is the charm of playing and what are the pitfalls. If you are an experienced player you can get information about the latest and most exciting casinos, what new games are in the pipeline, and much more. We want to be an affiliate where everyone, regardless of experience, can come for help and news.
Tell us a bit more about your future plans.
We see our site as a long-term project and we are aware that it takes time to build trust, both with the audience and also with Google. Our future plans are to continue to give SvenskaSpelare.Casino the attention it needs and to continue to develop and improve the site. We want to become one of the leading casino affiliate sites in the Swedish market and this takes time.
You only focus on the regulated Swedish market. What can you tell us about the struggles and challenges encountered when focusing on such a competitive and strictly regulated market?
It's true that Sweden is a very competitive market. There are no shortcuts if you want to be able to compete in this market, but that only suits us well. Only the best affiliates survive and that benefits the players in Sweden that never find the sites that haven't done their work properly.
The market is regulated now for good and bad. It's always a good thing if we can make it more difficult for players to play irresponsibly.
The big question is if the Swedish re-regulation has been created in the best interest of the players or if there are other factors involved as the Swedish government also wants to make sure that their own brands succeed in this market.
We can clearly see that the regulation of bonuses and deposits have created a situation where a lot of players have decided to move outside of Sweden and to online casinos on the black market. Players that struggle with their gambling can find themselves in even more issues when playing at sites which don’t have a Swedish license. These black-market operators are not affected by Spelpaus.se where players can restrict themselves from playing at all Swedish licensed sites either.
We see that the current government has implemented way too strict rules regarding bonuses. In what other industries in Sweden are all stakeholders forced to sell the exact same products for the same price and with no room for being innovative at all?
No bonuses are allowed after the first welcome bonus, no loyalty programs, no gamification, and so on. That is not right and doesn't create a more fun and safe gaming environment. Instead, give gaming operators the possibility to be creative and force the licensed operators to follow strict KYC and finance checks that prevent players from gambling with funds that they can´t afford to lose. With this setup, players would have less reason to move to the black market and the Swedish gambling regulation would be a lot healthier long term.
We hope that Sweden can find a better way to deal with this in the future.
How about the temptations with promoting the lucrative and growing black market, and casinos with no Swedish license?
It takes guts to resist the temptation to join the lucrative and growing black market. Especially when you are a smaller affiliate. Financially it's a bad decision to not focus on the black market and non-licensed casinos as that's where the big bucks can be made at the moment.
We have noticed that some established Swedish affiliates promote both licensed and non-licensed casinos on their sites but we have decided that this is not the route for us.
We look at this project long-term and we feel that promoting non-Swedish licensed brands will not benefit the Swedish gambling market and the players. If we are going to stick to our mission to build a trusted Swedish casino affiliate site, then we have to resist temptations like this.
What importance do you give to responsible gaming?
This subject is a big part of our site. In our articles, we always come back to the importance to gamble responsibly. We also have articles that only handle this subject where we advise on what to think about to avoid playing too much.
We are aware that some people have big problems with their gambling and we know that we have a responsibility. We take that responsibility very seriously and share our experiences of the importance of putting entertainment at the center and not the pursuit of money.
A couple of questions about SEO: (i) What are the main challenges of SEO today and how are they different from just a few years ago? (ii) Why is SEO important for gaming and how long does it take to see results from SEO?
We are a bit late to the party so we missed out on the days when there was less competition and when SEO might have been a bit easier to manage.
SEO is definitely a focus point for us and we are constantly improving and learning more about it.
Links are still a big part of SEO so with a fat wallet combined with knowledge, you will most probably see results a lot faster than if you start small and slowly work yourself upwards.
For a new site, it can take up to a year or more before you see any positive results especially in a competitive space like gambling affiliation. It takes time to build trust and authority with a new site.
How important is social media activity for your affiliate business? How difficult is it with Google's constant updates?
We have not focused on social media just yet but, from experience, there are possibilities to create really nice results from social media channels. This was a bit easier some years ago as these advertising channels have become more expensive in the last years.
We welcome Google updates. It's a lot of emotions at the same time when it's time for an update. It's a lot of the same feelings as when playing in an online casino in terms of excitement.
How do you manage relationships with multiple operators? What can operators do to increase support with affiliates?
I feel that it's very manageable with the different forums and Skype in particular. As long as both parts take the time to answer as soon as they can it works fine. If you have to wait a few days to get an answer the relationship will struggle, but that's not the case with most operators. If there is something you wonder about, the answer is often just minutes away.
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 or did you ever sell it and started anew?
At this point, we don't focus on finding investors or sell our business. We are in this for many years and work at a pace that guarantees good quality. We are just getting started and want to see how far we can go without external help. But you never know what might happen in the future.
How can affiliates be more unique in their approach?
The affiliates should be the good guys in the industry. We should be the ones that are honest and that speak out when we see something that is not done right. That hasn't always been the case, but more affiliates are starting to take that approach now, and hopefully, this will become a trend that only benefits the overall industry going forward.
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?
I have not had the pleasure to attend any of the SiGMA events just yet. I definitely plan to attend SiGMA Europe in Malta as soon as this is possible again. I have only heard great things about this event and I can't wait to experience it all myself and to meet all the partners that we work with in real life.
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 Gaming yourself, etc.
As many people in this business sport is a big interest and have always been. I have also been betting on sports for a long time, and if I have no plans on a Friday night, I can enjoy a slot for an hour or two.
I always enjoy a Tom Cruise-movie, but my quote comes from the great Roger Federer: “Clearly, when you win everything, it's fun.”
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