A SiGMA Interview with Seven Star Digital Founder & CEO Luke Eales
Hello Luke, how are you?
Very well, thank you. This time is very busy for us – we’re preparing to move to bigger offices around the corner in Shoreditch and are gearing up for a brand new product launch. Lots going on, a great way to end the year.
How did you come to enter the online gaming space and set up your company?
My background wasn’t in iGaming at all – previously I’d been Chief Marketing Officer at a car insurance startup. There were a number of similarities – highly competitive industries, oftentimes lack of consumer trust in the product, and a huge role played by comparison sites focused on digital acquisition. It appeared there was a fantastic opportunity to build a true comparison brand for the iGaming sector, taking inspiration from established megabrand insurance aggregators.
Can you tell us a little about how your company business is structured?
We’re a small specialist team based in the City of London, split between marketing, commercial and technology. To date we’ve expanded organically with a focus on sustainable, long-term growth. Our flagship UK casino site is TopRatedCasinos.co.uk.
With the recent wave of consolidation, mergers and acquisitions of affiliate sites, are you surprised at all of the changes happening in the industry?
It certainly seems as though we’re in the middle of an arms race, with a handful of big players mopping up other affiliates left, right and centre. We try not to be too distracted by this and focus on ourselves.
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?
This is not something we’ve considered to date as our preference is to focus on providing the best comparison service we can – right now owning a white label brand isn’t in our plans.
Developing unique content is a key pillar of your strategy. What will be your primary focus on this front over the next six months?
We will be testing the integration of more content into our landing pages. While it is tempting to create extremely rigid conversion funnels, we’re more interested in giving our visitors the best possible experience – including surfacing our top casinos’ recent promotions and new slot games, while also promoting a better understanding of how welcome bonuses actually work.
Which markets do you focus on and do you see any potential in the emerging markets ?
Our focus is largely on the UK for the moment, however a number of other markets are of interest – particularly those which open up to PPC advertising through Google policy changes.
How do you find UK market and competition?
The UK is naturally a highly competitive market due to both the volume and value of players that can be acquired here. The competitive landscape is constantly moving with new entrants coming in and out regularly. This means we have to be at the top of our game to maintain a profitable flow of volume.
How have Google’s algorithm updates affected the way you go about traffic generation, SEO and content at your company?
We’ve been lucky enough to enter the industry during a period of relative calm. This means we’ve not had to worry much about SEO firefighting, catastrophic penalties or legacy clean-up issues such as paid links or thin content. Instead we’re focusing on creating A* content, user experience and product that really meets the needs of players gambling online.
Are there any exciting plans in the works that you can tell us about?
Right now we’re really excited about our new comparison brand Compare.bet, which will be the spearhead of our drive into sports betting. In the long-term, we see this as one of our prize assets, spanning all corners of the iGaming landscape.
What is the main thing that you’d like SiGMA readers to know about your sites?
They’re never finished. We’re always challenging and developing what we have. We can always raise the bar higher and that’s what we strive to do.
What do you see as the biggest challenges ahead for your business and the wider affiliate sector in 2017?
Advertising compliance is a hot topic and we expect operators to place increased pressure on affiliates to stay on the right side of the regulations. Smaller affiliates in particular may struggle with the management and process control required to ensure that they aren’t putting their partnerships at risk.
What advice would you give to any new affiliate starting today?
I think the best advice is to focus. There are so many opportunities out there, it can be easy to be tempted to try the latest platform or trend. I would suggest it’s better to identify a niche and dominate it, then expand from there.
Are you ready for Affiliate Grand Slam and SiGMA17 Affiliate Conference?
Absolutely. This will be our first time at SiGMA and we’ve heard great things about it. Bring on the end of November!
|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?