Tyrone Dobbin: Local partnerships are key to understanding complexities in African markets

Establishing a brand in an African market requires a level of local expertise and knowledge, explained Tyrone Dobbin, Managing Director – Africa at Sportingbet at the SBC Summit Barcelona – Digital

Speaking on SBC’s ‘Africa – the market of the future’ panel, Dobbin emphasised that betting companies must not take a holistic approach to the African market when trying to grow their brand presence, but rather the firm’s must ensure that they understand the individual nuances and complexities of each individual market.

He explained: “For us, local partners are one of the first things you need. You’ve got to hire local people, you’ve got to educate them on what you want as both a business and a brand, and then you have to empower them because they understand that market. When we say Africa, people tend to think of the continent as a whole, but Africa is 54 very unique countries and economies  where there are huge cultural differences and huge uniqueness in each of the markets. 

“In terms of a business structure, look for a joint venture or a local sponsor, figure out the structure – understand whether it’ll be a subsidiary or a stand-alone business. But the key is to hire local partners and make sure that these are the people you have faith in before you onboard them. It can be a long journey building a business in Africa and you can’t do it without the right people. 

“We have this proverb that ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go further, go together’ and I think that this is really relevant when it comes to establishing your brand in Africa.”

Dobbin was joined on the panel by Florian Geheeb, Global Director Advertising Sales at Sportradar and Anton Rublevskyy, СEO of Parimatch International. The discussion was moderated by Rory Anderson, Consultant at 12BET.

Local expertise was a common theme throughout the discussion, with Rublevskyy pointing out that local knowledge is also key when it comes to using go-to-market channels such as affiliates. 

He added: “For us, affiliates in the markets where we are operational in Africa and further afield are a big source of traffic to our brand. It is also a very important source for local knowledge, especially when it comes to products, markets, payment solutions and customer support. 

“We have seen that using affiliates has offered good feedback for us, and has been fundamental in allowing us to optimise our operations. 

“But at the same time, it is very important to ensure that you have local expertise within your company. In some markets, affiliates can generate up to 70% of our marketing activities, but we always keep at least 30% internally to analyse which channels are performing well and which ones are not. 

“It also helps understand things such as first deposit spend – if you don’t have a thorough understanding of average market prices when it comes to registering punters, you will not be able to build an effective relationship with affiliates. Brand, SEO and affiliates as well as own-media buying is something that we have used across all of our markets.”

According to Geheeb, affiliate marketing can be very beneficial for operators looking to grow their brand – predicting that ‘this could become a more important channel going forward’.

He said: “We can look at the use of affiliates from two sides. From an operator perspective, I think affiliates can still act as a great go-to-market channel. Especially for those who want to explore new markets, affiliates can be key. We all know that they can become expensive at some point, so this is obviously that you need to consider and mitigate. 

“From an affiliate point of view, what I would predict is that if you look at the digital advertising landscape in general, and all of the privacy issues that are slowly but steadily progressing, at some point the cookie will be gone when most operators are choosing to use this as a way of targeting audiences. 

“Once this happens, an operator inventory or the ad slot itself will have a bigger impact for an advertiser business. This is one area we are focusing on with our ads business in general. What I would say is that as an affiliate, it is important to have an operator with its own supply on a large scale. It looks like this could become a more important channel going forward.”

SBC Summit Barcelona – Digital is a FREE to attend virtual conference and exhibition running from 8-11 September. To register for your free ticket or find out more please visit – https://sbcevents.com/sbc-summit-barcelona-digital/

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