Digital marketing services company XL Media is believed to have bought the rights to operate the Freebets.com betting bonus affiliate site previously owned by David Archer of Biggerbet.
The UK-listed but Israel-based XL Media has said in recent trading statements that it had recently added a number of bolt-on publishing sites to its extensive portfolio of affiliate marketing site holdings. It is thought the Freebet.com buyout follows a similar deal earlier this year for then separately owned Freebets.co.uk.
XL Media’s chief executive Ory Weihs said: “We don’t disclose the names of any of our websites.” David Archer was unavailable for comment.
XL Media is listed on London’s AIM market in March, 2014 and is making its mark as a consolidator in the online gambling affiliate marketing sector. The company owns over 2,000 websites aimed at the gambling industry and also runs digital marketing services and manages service for over 300 affiliate partners.
In its first-half results released in late September, XL Media said revenues for the six months to June rose 85% to $38.8m while adjusted EBITDA doubled to $12.9m.
The company has been expanding into other digital marketing and related areas having bought EDM, a leading social gaming and marketing company in September last year and also snapping up a majority stake in performance media company Marmar Media in July.
With regard to the bolt-on publishing acquisitions, the company said these complemented its existing assets. “These acquired assets have been integrated into our publishing division and paltform and are benefitting from our increased scale and access to our in-house technology.”
XL Media’s client list is extensive. In its March 2014 prospectus, the company said it generated customer traffic for over 120 online gambling operators including Betsson, Mr Green, Vera & John, 888.com, bet365, Ladbrokes, Unibet and William Hill. The prospectus added that its business model is largely performance-based with approximately 75 percent of group revenues coming from a lifetime revenue share model. The rest of the Group’s revenues for the same period were derived from models such as CPA or fixed payments.
Freebets.com is one of the leading ‘super-affiliate’ betting bonus sites. Archer’s Biggerbet has been in operation since 2009. Before that Archer was the owner of northeast high-street independent bookmakers Reuben Page before he sold the shops to Gala Coral in 2007. He then re-entered the market with PageBet which grew to a chain of 53 shops and an online operation before going into administration in May 2010. However, Archer had already left the post of chief executive after management disagreements over the company’s online operation.
Earlier this year Archer had indicated that life as an affiliate was becoming tougher. Speaking about the effect of the current spate of mega-mergers in the gambling space that it would put more pressure on the affiliates.
“It’s already clear that none of this merger mania stuff is good for affiliates,” he said. “Look at the recent deal for Stan James; I very much doubt that under the change of ownership, the previous deals will remain in place.
He added that as brands disappear ‘so do the affiliates deals’. “It’s a big downside, and it’s something that many affiliates are already seeing,” he added. “It makes you very cautious, particularly in terms of your marketing spend and investment. This year is already shaping up to be a tough year for affiliates. Operators are looking to tighten up on deals. I would imagine that has been a big factor this summer, because there has been no big football.”
Biggerbet also ran the CheltenhamFestivalNews.com and HorseracingResults.co.uk sites. It is not known whether these sites have also been sold to XL Media though the former says on its homepage it is still owned by Biggerbet.