Message from Gillingham Football Club on my Wedding Day

Massive kudos to Best Man Baulfy for arranging this, although trust you to leave the juiciest bits on me to someone else to say. Embarrassing, yet brilliant. Chuffed to bits with it. And yes, both stories are complete fabrications!

BoogieBet launching on PartnerMatrix

GameOn Affiliates‘ partner BoogieBet, operating off the OddsMatrix and Net Entertainment platforms, is one of the first operators to adopt EveryMatrix’s affiliate management software, PartnerMatrix.

GameOn Affiliates consulted in the development of PartnerMatrix and the system offers fantastic reliability and accuracy to affiliates and licensees. PartnerMatrix unites the functionality of a solid affiliate reporting system with BanaMatrix, EveryMatrix’s fantastic banner creation and serving tool.

Eric Yonce, CEO of BoogieBet said “The power of the PartnerMatrix software gives us the confidence to use it for all our online marketing and affiliate campaigns. We are excited about using live odds and fixtures in our dynamic sports betting banners and attract new players across all of our products.”

BoogieBet is the latest partner to receive GameOn Affiliates’ affiliate management service. Newly live, the BoogieBet Affiliate Program launches officially at LAC 2011 at the end of January with a unique, invite only experience for a number of leading sports and casino affiliates – an exclusive Limo trip to Nike Town on Oxford Circus to design personalised training shoes with Nike iD.

Tom Galanis, Director, GameOn Affiliates, is hugely excited about working with both BoogieBet and PartnerMatrix. “Having been involved in the development of PartnerMatrix, we have witnessed the system’s progression towards an industry-leading reporting tool. BoogieBet have made a wise choice in working alongside EveryMatrix and we are incredibly excited by the prospect of launching the BoogieBet Affiliate Program in style at the London Affiliate Conference with an exclusive trip to Nike Town.”

Hippodrome Casino

I’m working on an exciting project at the moment with the Hippodrome Casino, currently in development in both an on and offline sense. If your recollection of the Hippodrome is of a dingy, black wall clad single storey nightspot often seen as a last resort to those of questionable drinking age, prepare to be blown away.

Simon and Peter Thomas, founders of Beacon Bingo, have invested significant amounts into an astonishingly large site right on the corner of Leicester Square. I was given a tour of the site, and it is still a building site at this stage, and I was staggered at how much premium real estate was previously unused in such a central London location. Being a bit of a grumpy, ageing cynic, not a great deal excites me, but having viewed the plans and the site, I am looking forward to the task at hand – and that is helping to prove to the Genting’s of the world that it is possible to harmonise a successful land-based casino with an online offering, and making the two work for affiliates in particular.

Hippodrome Casino aims to become the number one gaming venue in London and with a walk-by audience of over 1 million people per week, you can well imagine that becoming the case pretty quickly. We will be working on systems to ensure that affiliates can not only gain credit for any offline play their recruited online players partake in, but also to create a full circle approach that will see them gain use of the land-based facility to recruit to and retain their player base. Not the easiest of tasks, but later this month I’m giving a select group of leading casino affiliates the opportunity for a sneak peak at the venue and help them envisage what this opportunity holds for them.

The Hippodrome Casino is due to open in the Summer of 2011, with the online product preceding it in the next few months.

Sex and Gambling – a Natural Business Intercourse?

A Stanford University study that took place in 2008 proved that a natural link between sex and gambling existed. Articles reporting the evidence proclaim it to prove what we have known all along – that sex and gambling go together like peas and carrots. Certainly, Sin City earned its reputation on the back of both vices and where would a James Bond casino scene be without Rouletta Outinthat loitering around the craps tables in search of riches and fame. Yet, for all money that spins around the adult and gaming industries online, we’ve not seen this so-called natural partnership come together to make sweet financial love.

Strong iGaming establishments have tried, but even working alongside powerful and credible brands such as Playboy, Tila Tequila and Page3, they have struggled to reach beyond the example of a fleeting niche concept in to the realms of serious money spinning gaming. Even less credible brands such as Swank Poker have come and gone embarrassingly quickly for an adult site, and Roulette69’s conservative step towards a Microgaming facelift would please many an ageing porn star. The sum of all of this seems to indicate that sex and gambling’s online affair cannot grow beyond a casual fling.

The issue with the aforementioned examples is that the sexual aspect of their brand and product make-up was pure window dressing for what turned out to be from a player perspective, just another RNG casino or poker room. Sure the promotions could entail innuendo with $69 on offer here or there, but there is no genuine fulfilment to one of the two vices iGaming operations have tried to unite. They flattered to deceive their audience and consequently failed in terms of player volume and profitability.

The adult industry is the number one online industry in terms of revenue and volume – 25% of all internet searches are porn-related. Competitors work together far more coherently than in online gaming to ensure all round growth, and there is far more differentiation for discerning patrons and site visitors, things that are distinctly lacking in the iGaming world. What made us think that throwing a couple of models on to a homepage would tap in to this profitability?

Despite the natural link from a player perspective, there is currently too great a market intelligence divide for a quick fix to work. What it will take is an operation that can develop a far more intuitive product that allows players seeking adult-themed gaming to receive precisely that. Promotional strategy must go far enough to attract naturally tentative casino players linking from an affiliated adult site – this could transcend the unnecessarily great divide. Offering something that achieves this will no doubt receive significant attention from affiliate and strategic partners on both sides, interested in the opportunity of sending traffic to a repetitively yielding destination – not normally the case from an adult affiliate’s perspective, and in significantly higher volumes than a gaming affiliate would be used to.

From a future standpoint, both the adult and gaming online industries are reaching critical stages of their relatively young lives. Porn has traditionally gained success from the subscription based model, but is increasingly focusing on social networking in terms of outreach, with sites such as AdultFriendFinder gaining more and more traction. Mobile technology is also being adapted to cater for more personalised contact (apparently there is now a vibrating app for the iPhone) and virtual worlds, such as Second Life, are springing up and revelling in the demand for more targeted differentiation. This is all being down to safeguard the monetization of an industry that is technically in decline.

The proportion of people searching for porn related material online is growing at a lower rate than the overall internet population. When looking at the number of people entering the online world, there is less activity in the porn industry and more in social networking and communication. In brief, the Web is no longer the red light district it was in the mid-nineties and porn is adapting. Can the same be said of online gambling? If we cover the same areas, which carry as much resonance in terms of importance to gambling, we can see that the answer clearly understand the answer.

Without a doubt, gaming has yet to truly crack social networking sites. Mobile technology may or may not be at an advanced enough stage for secure, transactional gameplay to take place, but the gaming industry has yet to focus its attention on this ever-developing corner of the market and make it happen. Online communities are holed up in practical forums such as Casinomeister and TwoPlusTwo rather than venturing in to exciting new 3D virtual reality worlds. Sure, there will be critics out there who will question the demand for such evolution, but online gaming really should be at a stage where it is creating the demand through innovation.

This is an area where the multi-channel affiliate should be chomping at the bit, as the potential for effectively linking sex and gambling would create brand new keyword competition, a different audience and a potentially massive one at that.

The Tens – Decade of the Sportsbook?

If the last few years of the Noughties saw sportsbook’s market leaders shifting their focus towards the cutting edge technologies of in-play betting and live streaming, the first few years of this decade should see affiliates reap the rewards. Since online sports betting first evolved, betting affiliates have never received the same levels of respect and support as their poker and casino counterparts. However, this should all be about to change.

As businesses look to diversify, adding a sportsbook to their product suite is an ever appealing option. Affiliates find themselves in precisely the same position. Opportunities in the casino space are becoming far more competitive and we’ve all heard more than enough poker affiliates state claim that “there’s no money in poker anymore.” Whether you agree with the latter, what is certain is that extending sideways by adding a sportsbook, is certainly more appealing to businesses on both sides of the fence.

Whilst the likes of the operator Mangas and the affiliate Pokerlistings are striving down the acquisition route, it simply isn’t an option for most operators and affiliates at the moment. This has led to an increased focus and success of the white label solution, such as those offered by the B2B arms of 888, Bwin, Paddy Power and Partygaming, as well as the rapid emergence of specialist sports betting solutions available with the likes of OddsMatrix.

Affiliates are doing precisely the same thing. They are seeing the need to not only diversify, but to lower costs in the short to medium term as they fight for space in ever competitive markets. It is no secret that the acquisition cost of a sports bettor is significantly lower than that of acquiring a casino or, even still, a poker player. Traditionally, sports betting-centric operators have been reluctant to share lifetime rewards of their cross promotion strategies, but with the growing international success of fair, cross product paying, sports betting-focused affiliate programs, such as bet365, Victor Chandler, Stan James and Ladbrokes, this landscape is changing. This means the affiliate is being rewarded, over the lifetime of a player with a brand, across the entire product suite. In essence, lower acquisition costs for increased returns and this means the rise of sports betting as a viable affiliate marketing channel.

This has taken a while to come to fruition. Sports betting affiliates have long been viewed with suspicion by many bookmakers and betting groups, particularly those whose margins are tightened by high overheads and unreliable trading patterns. This is largely due to the large amount of quality information affiliates can feed to players via odds comparison feeds, quality content or tipster forums, pushing such margins to the brink. Poker rooms and casinos have nearly always welcomed the education of players and affiliates in those arenas have reaped the rewards.

Sports betting is not ready for a PokerStrategy.com-type model just yet, but there are a number of projects on the horizon that seek to bridge the ‘education v margin’ conundrum. Tipster forums have long been havens for groups of serious ‘bookie breakers’ and survived on a fragile equilibrium between bookmaker and affiliate. Now, some highly innovative groups of affiliates are looking to take on social media and take a tipster-like conversational model from a finely-tuned group of professional bettors to the masses, and this should massively appeal to the bookmaker concerned about his margins.

Bingo has grown hugely on the back of its social connotations in a past life, but the next few years should see sports betting become the first mainstream online gaming channel to conquer the social network and monetize it effectively. As an event driven hobby, betting is far more contextual and naturally reaches out to more people than any other form of gaming, with the result of one person’s bet carrying significant importance, albeit more in an emotional sense than anything else, to many others in his or her network of friends. People brag about winning far more and bemoan a loss on a far greater scale than a poker player on the end of a bad beat and nowadays, their first habitual venue for a brag or a whinge will be via a social network, where they will not always be met with an appropriate congratulation or commiseration.

It’s the responsibility of the affiliate of the 2010s to monetize sports betting’s emotional drivers and social networks are where affiliates such as Flutr.co.uk seek to tap into people’s unerring passion for sport and entertainment. With the FIFA World Cup 2010, the largest ever betting event approaching in June this year, now is the time for sports betting affiliates to take the lead in cracking social media.