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Meet Diana Rotaru, Commercial Marketing Manager at Rise Project

“Always create the highest quality content to attract better value in this market. Quality always beats quantity in the long run.” We met Diana Rotaru, Commercial Marketing Manager at Rise Project.

Hello Diana, how are you?

Hi Marius, I`m great, thanks for asking.

How did you come to enter the online gaming space and set up your company?

I started in online gaming eight years ago as the affiliate manager for GoWild Casino. Later I became the head of Hippodrome’s affiliate program, which brought me to London. I took up my current role eighteen months ago at Rise Project, a performance marketing firm owned by industry veterans. It’s been a really interesting experience moving from one side of the fence as an affiliate manager, to now being the commercial manager for an affiliate.

Can you tell us a little about how your company business is structured?

We are a fully integrated marketing agency, and offer a range of marketing solutions: everything from affiliate management and design to development and branding. We are experts in all things social, PPC, SEO and Programmatic, and use these tools to help us achieve the best results for our clients, who include BGO and the Intertain Group.

With the recent wave of consolidation, mergers and acquisitions of affiliate sites, are you surprised at all of the changes happening in the industry?

I don’t find it all that surprising. But one thing which is concerning is that these huge companies are creating inertia in the market. Beforehand there was much more dynamism in the industry, with smaller partners and a greater range of deals, not just fixed prices from a handful of large firms. That being said, our goal is to be an integral part of the massive marketing drive currently taking place.

A number of your competitors have gone down the real money operator route, and tried their hand at white labels. Have you also done this?

No, we haven’t. While we don’t like to say ‘never’ to anything, we are currently fully focused on helping our partners to attract and retain the highest quality players possible.

Developing unique content is a key pillar of your strategy. What will be your primary focus on this front over the next 6 months?

As a content marketing agency, this is our specialty. That means we are always trying out new approaches, both in terms of content and strategy. Experimentation is key our business model, so expect to see some exciting new content from us in the very near future.

However where we see the industry going is a much bigger focus on COMPLIANCE when it comes to gambling content as well as QUALITY – and not in the sense of grammar and style but more in the form of value add – there world doesn’t need another casino review site and finding the content that really engages the target audience is key.

Which markets do you focus on and do you see any potential in the emerging markets ?

Our main focus is on fully-licensed and regulated countries, especially the UK, but also Scandinavia, Germany, Italy, Spain. At the moment we`re active in about 20 geos. We have been trying to expand into some Asian and Eastern European markets, too, where we see a huge potential for growth in the near future.

How do you find UK market and competition?

The UK is an extremely mature but still highly lucrative market. There are so many big players here that it constantly keeps us on our toes to deliver the very best for our clients; we always welcome the competition.

How have Google’s algorithm updates affected the way you go about traffic generation, SEO and content at your company?

Because SEO, PPC and social are all vital components to our approach, we hire only the very best experts to keep us one step ahead of the game. This has really paid off, so we haven’t had any real technical issues to speak of.

We are always trying to diversify our traffic sources – away from the Google and Facebook monopoly where competition is driving some serious saturation. With regards to SEO, we employ a similar approach where we have different strategies for different projects which makes us less exposed a single algorithm update, which we feel is a sensible approach in today’s SEO climate.

Are there any exciting plans in the works that you can tell us about?

We’re on our way to becoming one of the very best marketing agencies specialized in the gaming sector, so that is our focus right now. We want to concentrate on building successful, close relationships with our partners, and creating a real name for ourselves as a go-to agency in the industry as we do so. We are in the process of expanding aggressively into other GEO’s and developing a variety of exciting new assets.

What is the main thing that you’d like SiGMA readers to know about your sites?

Firstly, that we mainly specialise in high-quality casino traffic. Our two most successful sites are Online Casinos Exposed and 123Casinos, with the first focusing on PPC and the second being an aggregator site. We also have a variety of smaller sportsbook and bingo sites, with many more under development.

What challenges and opportunities has the move to mobile presented you with?

Now that more than 80% of traffic comes from mobile, it was vital that we keep up with these developments. All of our sites and content are fully optimised for both mobile and tablet, meaning our users can make full use of them no matter where they are in the world.

What do you see as the biggest challenges ahead for your business and the wider affiliate sector in 2017?

As always, regulatory changes remain key challenges and working closely with the various regulatory bodies is keen to minimize any risk associated with new legislations and laws. For the wider affiliate sector, we think it’s going to be another strong year for affiliates, with some possible early warning bells around the increased pace and magnitude of consolidations in the industry. Valuations for affiliate sites are sky-rocketing and ultimately these will prompt more aggressive commercial agreements with operators and only time will tell who will come out tops in this tug of war.

What two pieces of advice would you give to any new affiliate starting today?

First, to build long-lasting relationships with your partners – that is invaluable; second, to always create the highest quality content that you can in order to attract better value in this market, quality always beats quantity in the long run.

Do you play slots and what would you do with 1 million Euro from jackpot winnings?

I don’t play slots for real money, but I do play for fun just to test out all our partners’ new products. And what would I do with a million euros? I would love to go travelling and see much more of the world.

Relive the highlights from our last show and stay tuned for this year’s SiGMA. Watch out for what we’re branding as the ‘iGaming Village’ this year.
Are you an operator looking for top affiliates? Are you a top affiliate looking for a nice treat with like-minded affiliates playing at the same level?

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