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Meet Maria Petkovic, Project Manager at Casinocountdown.com

“In the business world, Profit is Prince and Cash is King, and nobody can deny it. We follow the principle Content is King, Content is Prince, as long as it’s kept fresh and accurate.” We met Maria Petkovic, Project Manager at Casinocountdown.com, for an interview about the importance of good content and her experience in the industry.

Hello Maria, hope you are keeping well this festive season?
Hi Marius Yes, I am, thanks for asking.

Can you tell us a little about how your company business is structured?
Casino Countdown, or Casino Bonuses Countdown, is a one stop destination for any online casino player, regardless of what the player is looking for. We try to deliver the latest news and updates, accurately and in a timely fashion. After all, the information provided is only as good as its accuracy and the time when it’s provided. We think these two are the biggest issues casino players have to deal with. Of course, this calls for long hours and extra effort.

With the recent wave of consolidation, mergers and acquisitions of affiliate sites, are you surprised at all of the changes happening in the industry?
The big fish eats the little one. The online gaming industry is like any other. It’s a dynamic market, and as such, events like these are inevitable. As long as there’s a win-win outcome, there’s nothing bad about them. Both affiliates and operators are always on the lookout for what’s going to be the next big thing. Brexit certainly is going to have a notable impact.

Developing unique content is a key pillar of your strategy. What will be your primary focus on this front over the next 6 months?Let’s put it this way. In the business world, Profit is Prince and Cash is King, and nobody can deny it. We follow the principle Content is King, Content is Prince, as long as it’s kept fresh and accurate. Over the past 2 years, we’ve carefully listened to what our visitors have to say. We try to keep things simple, yet we want to be thorough. It’s a never ending battle to be honest. Moreover, we don’t like to fix things if they’re not broken. However, changes are inevitable. We do not think we’re going to make any drastic changes, but they’re inevitable, and if we feel our visitors will benefit from them, we’re up for anything!

Which markets do you focus on and do you see any potential in the emerging markets?
We can’t exactly put a finger on what a few markets. Players from Australia, Canada and New Zealand are pretty important. The Scandinavian trio, Sweden,  Norway and Finland are also of great importance, but it takes time, resources and a lot of effort to penetrate these markets. Our sister site, Spielhallen is dedicated to casino players from Germany, Austria and Switzerland, which we have to admit are huge markets!

How do you find UK market and competition?
Ever growing. Both of them, to be honest. It’s a big, profitable market and everybody is trying to get a share of the pie. Fortunately, the number of casino players grows as well. Affiliates who are going to pick the right niche can expect returns sooner, but they too need to put in extra hours of work. Penetrating the UK markets is a marathon. New affiliate should simply finish the first race, the first year. Otherwise, you burn out and you quit.

How have Google’s algorithm updates affected the way you go about traffic generation, SEO and content at your company?
Considering our strategy and what we provide, we had to make minor adjustments. Many of our competitors have had detrimental issues. Nonetheless, Google has definitely rewarded webmasters who have paid greater attention to the content. Design is also important, but for the player. Trying to catch the attention of a crawler with the intelligence of a 5 year old child that sees nothing but content can be a double edged sword. For what it’s worth, players are now taken to webpages with fresh and thorough information. This is probably the best time to become an affiliate.

Are there any exciting plans in the works that you can tell us about?
I can’t tell you anything in detail, but, the answer is yes. We’re going to work more on delivering a custom experience to any of our visitors. A few other upgrades are also scheduled, and I’ll be happy to discuss about them with you once they’re live. Maybe next year, before SiGMA18!

What is the main thing that you’d like SiGMA readers to know about your sites?
If you want to find out more about any online casino, learn about them, inside out, there’s no better place than Casino Countdown. The content, the information we provide, spiced up with the minimal, user-friendly design will get you coming back for more. It’s as simple as that. This might sound arrogant, but it’s what we’ve been told.

What challenges and opportunities has the move to mobile presented you with?
Mobile visitors are a totally different target group. A desktop visitor will come and look around, literally explore. Individuals that browse the net with a smartphone is onto something. If you don’t provide them with what they’re looking for in the first few seconds, you’re going to lose them. Design is the biggest problem. There’s just so much information that needs to be displayed on such a small screen. Furthermore, not every visitor is in a comfortable state. There are people who look for a new game, new online casino while they’re on the bus, or they’re drinking their coffee. These are the people who know what they’re looking for, and we have to give it to them in a matter of seconds.

What do you see as the biggest challenges ahead for your business and the wider affiliate sector in 2017?
Growing restrictions. In the past few years, key operators have moved away from big markets. Whenever this happens, affiliates lose significant share of their player base. This is why it’s important to diversify your porfolio. If you focus on one or two markets only, sure, you’ll be successful. But if something radical happens in the legislation of the said markets, the affiliate has to start from scratch, well almost.

What two pieces of advice would you give to any new affiliate starting today?
Know where you’re headed. There are affiliates who start without any strategy. After a few months, they’re basically lost. It sounds simple, but it’s better to get things right the first time, than to go back through your entire webpage to fix something. The second advice, it’s an uphill ride. Do not expect any returns in the first year. Otherwise, you just might be disappointed. Conversions in this period should be reinvested immediately.

Do you play slots and what would you do with 1 million Euro from jackpot winnings?
As a matter of fact, yes! To be honest, i’m not fond of the latest additions. I tend to be nostalgic for the “aged” slots, like Immortal Romance and Starburst. Not that I have anything against any new slots. No two players alike.
€1,000,000 is a lot! I’ll probably get myself more free spins, play my favorite games, while i’m sitting on the balcony of my recently bought new house, looking at my brand new car, while I’m planning what country to visit next. I’m modest.

Are you ready for Affiliate Grand Slam Bucharest and SiGMA17?
Yes I’m very excited to attend both events. Affiliate Grand Slam Tallinn and SiGMA16 were amazing! We have already started with the preparations for this year’s Affiliate Grand Slam and SiGMA17 events. I am positive Affiliate Grand Slam and SiGMA17 will set the bar even higher, considering it’s moving to a different, more spacious location.

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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