Yannis Gkikas, Director at Affiliate Planet, joins the latest series of affiliate interviews on Affiliate Grand Slam
After climbing the ladder from customer support to different departments, Yannis Gkikas now runs his own affiliate business - follow his story below.
How did your affiliate business take off? And, is iGaming your only vertical?
I used to do my affiliate sites on the side of my full-time job for a few years. I was putting a lot of effort on these sites without expecting immediate results because I knew it takes time. At some point, the results from the hard work started showing and then I focused on my sites full time and developed them even more. iGaming is my main focus but I have a couple of non-gambling projects as well which I am working on, at a much slower pace though.
How did you first get into the affiliate space? And, were you always focused on the Gaming space?
I used to work for some big online bookmakers and casinos for a few years. Started from customer support and moved to different departments. One day I decided that I wanted to do something for myself and utilize the experience I had from the gambling industry. So I started my first site as a part-time side job. I developed my first sites with a partner at the time. I learned a lot by myself about different aspects of digital marketing like content, PPC and SEO. This has led to a job in a digital marketing agency where I learned even more and then at some point, I decided the time was right to go full-time affiliate. Gambling was always my focus as this is the area I have a lot of hands-on experience both as a player and as a marketer.
How is your company structured, and what aspect of business development are you currently focused on?
I am a one-man-band which is quite challenging at times. I am working with a few freelancers though for various tasks that I either don't have time to do my self or I don't have much experience. For my Greek site, I have an amazing dedicated content writer/website manager that has helped me a lot the last few years. The aim is to build a permanent dedicated team for all my projects in the next couple of years.
What can operators do to increase support with affiliates?
Constant communication is key in my opinion. When there is communication both ways then the relationships are stronger, we can all avoid mistakes and we can all work better and more prolific.
What makes your traffic proposition/traffic sites unique?
I focus on specific casino products on all my sites. bestuklivecasinos.co.uk is focused on live casinos and live casino games while slotslounge.co.uk is focused on slot games. My Greek site froutakiaonline.gr is also focused on slot games but for the Greek market. Focusing on a tight niche has positives and negatives. The traffic from my sites might not be massive like other affiliate sites that cover all the casino games but is very targeted. So any visitors that are landing on my site can find exactly what they are looking for which means I have good conversion rates.
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?
Never say never. If you had asked me this question a few years ago I would have told you a straight no. But everything evolves and so does the affiliate industry. If there is serious interest I am willing to have a discussion about selling.
Which qualities and skills are essential in an affiliate team/business?
The iGaming affiliate business is one of the hardest to work on so it requires a range of skills but if I had to pick some these would the ability to learn quickly, to plan and to adapt to changes.
How does technology play a part in your day-to-day?
Technology is very important. I am using a few tools that help me make a decision on how to move forward and to evaluate performance. Without technology, a lot of decisions would have required hours of manual work.
Which emerging technologies like AI and big data will impact the affiliate industry in 2020 and beyond?
I believe both will have a big impact in the future. I am not an expert on either but big companies will be able to leverage them for sure.
Is the grass greener on the other side - have you considered going down the operator route?
I will leave this route for other people to take!
Which markets are you eyeing up as a priority in 2020, and why?
At the moment I am focusing fully in the UK market but one of my potential projects includes other English speaking countries like Canada and the USA.
How has the fragmentation of regulated markets affected your business? UKGC, Swedish regulator and now also the German regulator is mulling regulating this space.
It has been challenging and has affected one of my sites a bit. But we just have to adapt and to any regulation changes because like everything in life, nothing is permanent.
How is the Asian market shaping-up for affiliates?
I haven't tapped into the Asian market so I have no personal opinion on that but I have heard it is a very lucrative market.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when starting out?
I wish I knew more about the technical stuff that took me a lot of time to learn.
What’s been your biggest nightmare to date?
Every Google update is a nightmare ;) I am joking … There were a few bumps along the way but nothing has been a real nightmare, to be honest.
What are the main challenges for the sector in 2020?
Keeping up with regulation changes and trying to compete with the big boys will definitely be more challenging.
What are your predictions for the future of the sector?
I can see a lot of acquisitions and mergers happening not only on the operator side but also on the affiliate side. This means that the big boys will start dominating the market more and more, so small players will have to change their strategy and adapt.
How do you manage relationships with multiple operators?
Constant communication via email, Skype and iGaming conferences.
What are the benefits of attending large iGaming events, and what can they do better?
There are multiply benefits and this is why I am trying to attend as many as I can every year. I am quite happy with the way these events are run, I really enjoy them.
Have you ever been to SiGMA? Would you consider attending SiGMA Manila or SiGMA Malta at some point?
I was meant to go to SiGMA Malta twice but things came up last minute both times and I didn't make it. It’s one of the events that is on my list to attend when I get the chance again.
Tell us a bit about yourself - after all, business is done with people, not just companies!
I am from Greece but I live in the UK for 14 years now, I love football and I support AEK Athens.
What’s on your must-read list right now?
I don't read books so often these days mainly because I prioritize other things but one book I have read in the past and want to read again because I really liked is “The Biology of Belief” by Bruce Lipton.
Which quote do you live your life by?
You never fail until you stop trying.
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About SiGMA LatAm Focus:
This event brings the Americas closer to delegates from Europe and Asia, with an interesting agenda featuring a line-up of speakers that showcases the company’s commitment to covering the various gaming verticals. Explore the full agenda here and register now, this one’s on us!