Bingoport’s Andrew Housego – Super Affiliate Transcript
Roo: Hello, ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to introduce you to one of the all time respected industry players in the affiliate marketing space, Mr. Andrew Housego. Andrew is the operations manager at Bingoport.co.uk. He is a multi-skilled; various online skills, online marketing, web design. EDM, SEO, PPC, anything else you can add them with an acronym based around affiliate marketing. Welcome, and thank you very much for joining me today Andrew.
Andrew: Thanks Roo, pleasure to join you.
Roo: Fantastic. Okay, so the aim of these in this podcast series is to spread the word on best practices in managing affiliates and how both sides of the ledger looks. So Andrew, let’s get into it. Andrew, you’ve been in the gambling space now and dealing with affiliate managers for last 20 years or so. Even been an affiliate manager, you must have some stories, hopefully clean stories.
Andrew: Yeah it’s been a long road and long winding road. Started off as an affiliate manager as you said so that’s sort of the coin back in the very early days when US was the primary market. The conferences of course were predominantly held in Vegas.
Roo: The old days.
Andrew: Yes, the good old days, plenty of the enjoyable experiences there, the Vegas conferences and then of course the transition into becoming an affiliate at around the same time, but the focus shifted to Europe and the UK in particular. Since then, I have been on the affiliate side and get to deal with the affiliate managers who obviously have their issues and whatever to do with an understanding completely. I started from that side so yeah. It’s been a long journey.
Roo: 10 years now at Bingoport?
Andrew: Yeah, that’s right. So essentially growing very quickly and as you know Bingoport has been through some changes too sort of being there all along and we still kicking on strong and looking for a bigger things in the future.
Roo: Fantastic. Andrew I’m going to run through a series of questions I mean piping in this candidly as you can hopefully not giving away too much inside knowledge but you know anything that you can divulge and share with us would be fantastic. I guess first of all let’s talk about what the most common mistake an affiliate manager makes when they’re trying to get exposure with you on Bingoport.
Andrew: Well it’s quite a few but I think the one thing that affiliate managers fail to understand is that as an affiliate, you have to deal with and manage requests from a large number of operators looking for exposure on your site. Bingoport for example has over 500 bingo and slots brands listed and there is no mastering sort of combined into various affiliate programs. so you might deal with one particular affiliate manager for six or seven but that still means we were dealing with 50 or so affiliate managers and affiliate managers need to understand that we have to sort of keep as many as we can happy, we have lots of different sources of revenue not just the one affiliate programs. So they need to understand, they need to understand that the load has to be shared around somewhat and that we can’t be giving them sort of exposure when there’s so many different choices at Bingoport.
Roo: Great thanks for that Andrew, and I guess now looking at some reasons as to why you would give an affiliate manager a go or a brand a go, what would be the reason because obviously you’re
getting contacted a lot of time as you say, you’ve got 500 brands up there already. Why would you give an affiliate manager guy whether or not it’s an existing brand or a new brand?
Andrew: There’s a number of things and it’s so changed over time. Initially, when the industry was just
starting out and there wasn’t a lot of knowledge around the long term values and that sort of thing. Where you go on a lot of time relationships that you form with affiliate managers, and if you formed a relationship with them, you’d be prepared to give them a go. Also, obviously, if it’s a new program starting up, and you saw there is some fresh blood to it, and that is something we tend to look at carefully as well and in recent times, I think affiliates has started to become a little bit more wise when it comes to the sites that we’re promoting. So we’re looking to things like the value per click, for example, that we have on site. We also consider the software that the site might use, we’ve known for previous experiences, which software converts better and which has a better value. So if you try and get us to push your site on a platform that we know we haven’t had great success with in the past, then it’s probably better to get us to promote it. I guess one of the bigger things now that has happened recently is that there has been some certain programs shutting down and cutting off. We are now more careful about the operators we choose to deal with. We want to make sure that we’re dealing with operators that are going to be there for the long term and not run off the industry next year. Yeah there’s a number of considerations but they probably the primal ones.
Roo: I guess it’s important for affiliate managers to really be knowledgeable about their product and maybe even if they can how it compares to other brands. because not all programs are created equal I mean it’s all very well I guess saying 40% commission or 50% commission. but unless the software and the branding and the promotion all roll in together and convert the lifetime value of those prices that you see is there. I guess at the end of the day, you can throw as much money as you like and you’re not going to go for it, if you know what you do as an affiliate what’s going to work and what’s not.
Andrew: Yes that’s exactly right. I mean there’s plenty of offers for the high revenue share percentages earlier off. But we sort of know that the software platforms that you’re unlikely to get any more than the first deposits, so you’re not going to make a great deal of money and even if you’re getting 50% of the 10 pounds. The cash is not as good as 30% of the average net cash, so we take those things into consideration. Another thing that we’ve become sort of wise to is that the calculation of net revenue and net cash when conditions are divided up. Some platforms will purely make a deposit list of withdrawals for net cash, others deduct losses, software phase, marketing phase and even before they calculate that net cash a 10 pound deposit could end up being only five pounds in net cash at the end of the day. So you’re not only earning 30% of the 5 instead of 30% of the 10. We look carefully at that sort of thing now because it is, you know, everything’s tightened up, you got to look at those little wins. And so we believe managers need to understand exactly how the conditions are calculated, because affiliates are looking at it more carefully.
Roo: Okay, great. And I mean, just on that you briefly touched on the fact that you know, you need affiliate manager to form a relationship with you in a lot of cases. Are there any other you know, could you elaborate a little bit more on that and could you maybe describe some other traits of affiliate management. I think we’ve already talked about them needing to have that product knowledge and commission structure knowledge. Can you just delve in a little bit more about what are the good traits of an affiliate manager?
Andrew: Originally we’re just looking what is familiar that they understand the business of an affiliate is a major factor and I think if I understand the business of the affiliate more and be more in tune with what need the less likely to be pushing this continually for exposure and more likely to be working towards it. Maybe getting a good campaign going every few months and working to make that campaign find profitable for both of us rather than just sort of pushing for exposure without the plus side for us as an affiliate. From a personality viewpoint, obviously affiliate managers who are friendly and willing to chat with you and to get down to that level is great. It is an element of professionalism I guess, but you know, the industry, they enjoy the marketing network, a bit of each other’s company where we’re at conferences. I have established quite a few great friendships with affiliate managers along the course of the 10-year journey. And yeah, we’re closely with them on an ongoing basis because of those relationships that we’ve made but it’s not decided to push them ahead of others if it’s not going to work out financially.
Roo: For sure say at the end of the day that all set obviously make sense and speaking of dollars, if you tell us at the moment what kinds of promotion seem to be working best for you I guess conversion and return on traffic. Was there anything that sort of standing out at the moment?
Andrew: Bingoport is very different to a lot of affiliates out there. We have positioned ourselves as a rewards program for the gambling industry so when people join sites through Bingoport and then continue to play it then we reward them with frequent flier points if you like which they can cash in for the rewards on the Bingoport sites. So we’ve sort of made the decision that they are incentives if you like, there are rewards that we get to the players almost as a supplement for promotions and offer the bingos in casino. We find for example that it if we put half a dozen offers on the one page and give them various varying amounts of awards, then we can manipulate the players to go to the sites that we want even if it may not have the best bonus for the site. Obviously the text changes and a number of things around the regulations in UK. Bonuses are tightening up and the operators are looking for different means and ways to the attract players and we think we’ve found a way so it supersedes bonuses.
Roo: That’s really positive to hear that because I know a lot of the industry players are struggling around that whole issue at the moment and they are tightening up. So yeah, good grip on that, congratulations. Moving down that same vein, do you sell tendency to do that sort of thing are you mainly running on a CPI or rev share I mean. What is your preferred commission structure and why?
Andrew: Well I think quite some time ago we elected a hybrid commission structure preference. Where we take the CPI nominal CPI up front and on the other end of it. You know a lot of affiliates here with recent issues around programs closing, they are reluctant to take the initiative. That we feel that the value of our players long term and we’d be missing out if we ripped out the rev share option on there. So we take the CPI up front just to cover ourselves in the event that other players do the unthinkable and shut down some sites. We can also have the rev share to cover us because we know that players have a good value So we’re quite happy to have the risk takers and take the smaller CPI up front but then have the rev share tacked down.
Roo: Great! And just on that as well so that means your confident in the players that you’re sending that they’re not creating change. There’s not too much change happening and the operators of the brands are getting that desired level of lifetime value at a less price.
Andrew: Yeah they are programmed rewards program. The idea is that wish to continue to reward the players for playing at the sites that you send them to. so that’s why we insist on having a rev share attached to it because we want those players to continue to play at the sites that we have sent them to and delivers value long term. So it is certainly not a snatch and grab on the CPI for us. we want that long term condition to continue and it will be very confident for the long term value will continue to remain as strong as they are and potentially grow.
Roo: Okay cool yeah. well I guess I mean at the end of the day, affiliate marketing is really all about putting win-win situation for the affiliate and also the brand. Unless that stacks up, then it’s a really no good for either side so. I guess when we’re talking about this as well, any examples of silly money that you’ve been offered to give exposure and have you taken it or did you turn it down. Have you got any examples of that?
Andrew: I think really happens these days, you get ridiculous CPI’s offered. I think for the reasons I mentioned previously that the tightening up, the regulations in UK, the increased competition etc. The operating system has managed to be splashing ridiculous amounts of cash, but we need to look back for six years and you’re talking 250 pounds CPIs for the slot sites. So I think those days are long gone and we would just have to deal with that I guess like I said, we were confident in our value of our players long term so we know that will make a fair chunk of revenue out of our players in the long term on the revenue share. So we’re not too concerned that there are 250 pounds CPIs flooding.
Roo: For sure, things are definitely changing it’s a different environment of course with what’s going on with the US. In the sports book industry, things might get a little bit silly again but probably pretty much status quo in the UK I assume. In terms of if you could offer any advice to a new affiliate manager to the industry, any piece of advice at all, what would it be?
Andrew: As we touched on earlier, to make sure you understand your product and the brands very well, understand exactly how the commissions are calculated. Get to understand the business of affiliate and how they make their money and each calculates differently in the way that the site operates. Some are based purely on search volume for particular terms, some got sort of email databases that they have built up over time and they rely heavily on email marketing. so you need to understand exactly how the individual affiliate generates the traffic and instead of approaching individually with an idea, with a proposal that it’s going to be beneficial to both. But you certainly need to clear understanding of what your product offers to the affiliate and how it’s going to potential make them money.
Roo: For sure and what you said that you think that at the moment, most affiliate managers are up to speed with a brand in those other aspects that you’ve talked about which you find so important as an affiliate?
Andrew: There are a few that are but also the quite a few that aren’t also, I think a lot of people that are thrust into affiliate management positions with not a great deal of industry knowledge, there are also those that may have industry knowledge but have been put into that position, not fully understanding the affiliate model. So yeah, I think those that perform better and obviously going to a more complete understanding of how affiliates operate and now perform better I guess, for the for their employer.
Roo: Yeah, right. Now just putting on another cap for you, Andrew, if you could offer a new affiliate to the industry, any piece of advice, what would that be and why?
Andrew: It’s a very difficult industry to get into especially if you’re trying to get into the UK market. Obviously, Google has made things as difficult as they can for affiliates who are on the way and with those already sort of cementing their positions in the space, it’s harder to cover at least. So it’s just if you’re an affiliate looking to get into the UK market specifically, you’d want to have a very niche to the market that you’re targeting. I can’t think of any but you really need to have a niche target and something that you can target for yourself, so don’t try to take a broad approach and rank for every single gambling product out there. You need to find something that you can really focus on and target. There are other opportunities I think in broader Europe and obviously the US as I mentioned that will be opening up soon, so my advice if someone is looking to get into the affiliate industry in gambling will be to focus on one of those emerging markets rather than trying to caveat establish ones.
Roo: Thanks Andrew, very acute advice given the current market circumstances. So the next thing we’re going to move on as we are going to talk about attending conferences. so you know, obviously you’ve attended a lot of conferences at the years as you said before you know, the Vegas conferences, the Miami conferences obviously been a shift to the UK conferences and other conferences throughout Europe. What would you say the pros and cons are as an affiliate of going to these conferences or attending these conferences are they really worthwhile?
Andrew: Yes, I have been to a few, I try to get to as many as I can. living in Australia, it’s a long way to travel now for me to get there but I do find them beneficial, important and an integral part of being an affiliate. You know if you if you’re not sort of making those relationships face to face, you can sort of get left behind on. pretty consistently busy linking through most of the conferences, just catching up with the affiliate managers on a face to face basis. I rarely get the opportunity to sit in on as many sessions as I’d like but I do try and nominate you know at least one or two prior to attending that I know I’m going to get some benefit out of. There are competitions, there’s always a handful that are going to give us some real benefits to the business but the primary objective for me I guess for me is to forge and then and grow those face to face relationships with the affiliate managers. It’s all well and good to be passing emails to one another from the other side of the world. But I try to push the flesh and get to meet these affiliate managers face to face at least twice a year. Now the other thing that I find is a big part of this industry which I find a great thing is that the affiliates as a whole are a great community. Specifically in the bingo industry that I work in, a fellow affiliates are quite willing to share ideas and talk and have a great time. I find the relationships with fellow affiliates in industry invaluable as well. Right, you can learn a lot of valuable information from them.
Roo: Yeah that’s an interesting point that you raised with that one Andrew. Because while they are competitors, you socialize with them and chat quite candidly about what you’re doing and what’s working for each other and that’s a really great thing because it doesn’t happen in a lot of industries. So thank you for sharing it. I guess a bit of a plus maybe for the event organizers. What do you see as being the most critical event to attend as a gambling affiliate?
Andrew: I think it would depend a lot on sort of market that you’re targeting. But to me, predominantly, UK, the London for your affiliate conference is by far the most important for me is very few affiliates in the UK space and very few operators that don’t think. So it just makes it the must the must to attend I think. Each of the others are great in their own right. And like I said, I try to get to as many as I can but the London one is the one where pretty much everyone attends. So yeah, you might use a handful of people at the other conferences, but they’re all pretty well guaranteed to be at the one in London, the one that’s concreted in on the calendar.
Roo: Excellent, excellent, I am sure Shona, Alex will be very happy to hear that. So obviously we talked about some of the changes in the industry over the years. I mean, obviously compliance in recent time has been something major. It’s affected not just the operators of the brands but also you as an affiliate. what kind of impact do you think it’s having on your business?
Roo: Yeah, yeah, sure. And I think it’s probably pretty fair to say that this had been going on and it is probably going to get larger as time goes on, because different jurisdictions, again, have different rules and what kinds of promotions can be displayed. So it’s going to be an ongoing issue. And it’s great to hear that you’ve got the technology in place to make it easy to manage, because I know there’s so many affiliates out there who are struggling to keep up with all the compliance emails they are getting from affiliate managers. We actually had to go back and change all those legacy issues and obviously you only have so much time to cater, to working on compliance. But at the end of the day, the brands and the operators are themselves exposed by affiliates not having the correct promotional information on the websites and that’s according to the Advertising Standards Authority in the UK so it’s an important part of the business. Now moving on from compliance, so one of the key elements you’ve got planned going for. How do you see yourself growing the business over the next few years? Is it CEO paid or looking to acquire other affiliate businesses? Is there any strategy in place?
Andrew: We’ve been building Bingoport for quite some years as one that rewards model and pretty happy with where it is positioned at the moment. We know that new players we have on our database have a high value. We know that new players we have acquired on Bingoport were able to manipulate in such a way that we can obtain a good value from them. so that opens the doors to various acquisition if it’s on their part and will be investigating and so we try to make campaigns in the past. We’re looking to do all sorts of acquisition stuff so I guess following along the operator model and we have a business and we’re just looking at the grow it.
Roo: Andrew, You touched on TV there a second ago now it’s obviously very common for brands to be doing advertising on TV but not so much as an affiliate. Can you just run us through how advertising on TV works for you as an affiliate? How does the mechanism work, you being able to attract players etc.
Andrew: First of all, it’s obviously something that is not going to be workable for a great number of affiliates. Bingoport is a destination site so we have a reason for being a member at Bingoport and it’s quite a strong call to action. So an acquisition campaign on TV for us, that works well because we get the members in, we then have their information stored and were able to send them off to these sites that we partner with. If your affiliate model is not that way… if you are just a website, obviously working on TV you’re going to generate traffic to your site but thevenue once I lose them and you don’t really know where they’re going or how much they are spending. So it works for some affiliates but it’s not something that’s beneficial to their business.
Roo: For sure Thanks for sharing that insight Andrew. It’s an interesting concept to be able to do those kinds of ads and actually get the return on investments that you, but I’m sure it’s not that easy. Speaking of you know, obviously sending traffic off to brands operators, affiliate tracking platform, what do you like in the industry and why.
Andrew: That’s a good one because obviously they are model we rely very heavily on that training and we’ve implemented technologies on Bingoport that enable us to track, every individual players wherever they go. so if a player signs up to Bingoport, we will know exactly which of the sites that we promote, the sites that deposit that and which of the sites that continue to deposit that. It is something that took us a lot of years to build and it’s something that a lot of affiliates don’t have the benefit of. But in order to make that happen, we need to work with affiliate programs that that can facilitate that individual tracking through an variable tracking ID. Most platforms offered one form or another but this is the easiest one that we could work with that users can access that individual tracking parameters, it is very easy to pass through as reported on through an API. so we don’t need to log in and get that information, it’s an automated force and you can access it. Being in the industry as long as I have, you know this stuff and when it comes to choosing operators to work with, that’s one of the things we look at. The strength of what affiliate platform that it’s running on. If it’s in connection is that it is quite a lot of assurance that it the tracking is going to be correct and there’s also the operator, carefully considered the affiliate program and I decided to go with one of the leading platforms.
Roo: Great, and just stepping away from the tracking platform at the moment. But so your time, how do you actually manage everything and split of your time up to make sure they are manageable because you must be juggling so many different things. I guess the second question to that is what can affiliate managers do to provide you help and invest managing your time you know, how can some efficiencies to be gained?
Andrew: Obviously, Bingoport is a very different base, I manage quite a lot of things through the Bingoport business that, most affiliates wouldn’t have to worry about things like; filling support inquiries from the members, fulfilling rewards and redemptions of. So these sorts of things helps the affiliates, but it takes up a lot of my time, but then also having the main product, which is looking after the affiliate managers and making sure that we’re making money from the sites we are promoting at Bingoport. So it’s a tough and again that affiliate managers need to understand that affiliates have got a lot on their plate than just putting a business as a whole all of the business behind the affiliates. From my perspective, whenever affiliate managers want us to promote their brands on Bingoport I ask that they prepare the creative that they require for Bingoport which is a custom size and provide a certain level of exposure you know. The days of going and grabbing the creative out of the affiliate platform are gone for me because the sources we used are no necessarily kept in the affiliate program. We needed to provide the creative that we want obviously nowadays with the terms and conditions having to be employed on all those creative. So they need to be up to date and provide it to us rather than us sort of having to go in and look and check regularly to see whether the banner is up to date.
Roo: Fantastic. Cool. Well, we touched on this briefly before but it seemed like an outstanding outreach email from an affiliate manager you know, asking to be promoted or been approached at a conference anything that stands out maybe worked or maybe didn’t work but left an impression. I know I’ve been approached in the past and see you’ve got traffic and it seems to keep on happening in the industry but have you got anything that’s either positive or negative, that stands out either with an email or at conference.
Andrew: It’s difficult to get plenty of those traffic for the I think something that works well for us the affiliates in this place is if there is a new brand coming out that you will give them the option to promote that brand as soon as it’s launched. Rather than sort of promoting it on TV and everything and across all the American channels before they are released to affiliates. So we’ve had a couple of those opportunities and I always work well and they grow efficient so it’s rare to come across I guess. a lot of the operators say that if they can look at other channels for acquisitions before they will listen to it, it’s going to work out better for them. but that’s certainly something that would be a good way to approach affiliates to promote a new brand if you worked with 2 or 3 affiliates before using other channels.
Roo: Trying to really, really good piece of insight there. Okay, we skipped over this one but we’ll come back to it. So stats, how do you keep track of your stats? You mentioned before that there’s 500 brands do you have some sort of centralized system or use a piece of software or you know is it basically back to the spreadsheet?
Andrew: We do it both, we do a spreadsheet for earnings obviously on a monthly basis but we’ve implemented technology on Bingoport that enables us to track every individual members across all sites that they have joined to play. So through that, we get to see a real time snapshot of how many days we’ve seen each month for the various sites and so that we can count how many players we have connected to those sites. so that’s technology once again, wouldn’t be available to lots of affiliates but it is something we have employed. Having said that, it’s not for you obviously have to go through and calculate earnings and all that sort of thing and with the number of operators that we deal with it’s always a messy task. There are 500 brands on Bingoport, It’s a lot of affiliate programs to log into to take those steps but that’s part and parcel of all of these. So it’s just something that has to be done.
Roo: It is something that has to be done otherwise you don’t know how much you’re earning what’s working what’s not right. Recently one of the largest competitors, which bingo was bought by Excel media good thing bad thing any comments on that acquisition?
Andrew: I think it remains the same, really. they obviously have to convert the Bingo sought to Word Press I think it with Excel’s model. so remains to be seen it whether that has any impact on a search rankings long term on originally WhichBingo was one of the major players in the industry and they had a massive turning and the team of nearly 20 people working on each Bingo. Obviously, they are going to have over 20 people working on WhichBingo. Specifically, it reminds to be sitting with it that works for them as well. Time will tell I guess, all I know is that Bingoport is still going strong we recently been acquired by previous owner of April and needs to needs and he is committed to growing Bingoport and moving it forward. Things are looking positive for us and if for some stroke of luck way we happen to attack which Bingo is the top of thing at the leading the business space the next year or two and it’s good for us.
Roo: Fantastic! You got to be on the field. And Neil obviously has a wealth of experience in the industry. So sure, we get to see right here are bigger things from Bingoport and that possible in the future. So that’s exciting. Obviously Neil’s based in the UK, you are in Australia, do you find it much of an advantage or disadvantage thing in Australia. Do you end up doing much work at night, Skype calls that sort of thing tell us a bit about that.
Andrew: Yeah most of my correspondence occurs during the evening so I get all the stuff that I need during the day for managing Bingoport and answering sequel queries and all that stuff and then my correspondence mainly takes place in the evening. I got two children so once they have gone to bed, I’m back on my computer and Skyping and answering emails. It works quite well it’s middle of the day for the UK when I’m alone at night so that we don’t have to any issues there. Once I retire for the night, I get a few more emails come through which I deal with first thing in the morning. so it’s something I have been managing for a long, long time as you know, and I’m used to it. I quite enjoyed it. I think that the technology is available, it’s strong and everything is being done online, it doesn’t really matter where in the world you are.
Roo: Yeah, and I think that’s a really interesting point for affiliate managers to realize is that, you know, you can operate these kinds of affiliate businesses from pretty much any location in the world. I mean, Bingoport get started in Australia, myself and Scott, you grew the team there and it didn’t matter where you were based in Australia, and we were predominantly based in the UK market space. So affiliate managers shouldn’t be discounting anyone who’s not in their local jurisdiction. So yeah, interesting point. Well, Andrew, we’ve got to finish up with a few quick fire questions for you, if you just can maybe give a short answer on, I don’t really care, you could give a long answer. Do you gamble yourself and if so, on what?
Andrew: I don’t mind on the horses occasionally. But that’s the extent of it. I rarely gamble in the casino or gamble on the tables or slots. I guess I have to test my knowledge against the bookies so the horse…
Roo: Always on the right side of the ledger is a good side of the industry to be on. so as an industry as a whole where do you see the growth in the next two years?
Andrew: I hope it will be the US it’s been something that I’ve sort of been holding out for I guess for a long period of time. just that I hope that one day the US would open up again, look at how lucrative it was back in the old days. So I think it will be even greater this time around if it gets it. My tip is that it will slowly but eventually should be the base that it once was. Roo: Yeah for sure. And your favorite affiliate manager and conversely your favorite brand to work with truth would be appreciated? Andrew: Oh that’s a tough one. I get annoyed with a few affiliate managers now accounts..
Roo: What you are doing at Bingoport and I very much appreciate that. It is always interesting. You do have the Bingoport awards of course when you talk about which brands you like to work with and they obviously in awards and certain affiliate managers. I can leave it at that, I don’t want to put you on the spot anymore. Andrew thank you so much for your time today I feel there’s a great deal of insight in here for affiliate managers and also affiliates here as the industry as a whole, I really appreciate it, thank you so much mate.
Andrew: No problem bro, happy to do it and look forward to seeing you at the next conference.
Roo: Fantastic, cheers mate.