Acroud: The sports betting comeback and focusing on fast-growing markets

Robert Andersson (pictured) is the CEO for Acroud, a leading company for iGaming lead generation. He spoke to SBC about how its poker heritage sets it apart from other affiliates, as well as putting more focus on sports betting, opportunities afoot in the US and how operators must move away from the ‘easy’ bonus led approach.

SBC: Can you just explain what it is you do?

RA: Acroud is a classic iGaming affiliate, predominantly focused on the casino and poker verticals, but increasingly on sports betting too. In terms of markets, we have a good foothold in the US and Europe. That’s the short version.

But what sets us apart from a lot of other affiliates is our strong poker heritage. We have a strong following for our poker listings.

SBC: Have you seen a big bounceback for poker in 2020?

RA: We have seen that in the spring, yes, but we can also see that it’s now normalising, especially since the sports came back. You started noticing that a lot of people who play sports turned to poker for entertainment while there was nothing to bet on. Of course, the normalisation was expected after the big push in the spring.

SBC: But do you think the levelling off is above where it was before, or has poker activity dropped right back down to pre-Covid levels?

RA: I think that poker has a second coming with this, it has already started. I do believe that poker has been reinvented even though it has now levelled off, albeit at a little higher level than before. For me, this is the start of reinvigorating poker acquisition. 

SBC: You mentioned bringing in a bigger focus on sports betting; is this a deliberate attempt to widen your product pool?

RA: Yes, definitely.

SBC: And how is this going so far?

RA: Sports betting is coming back. Our UK site MaxFreeBets has been noticing this trend. You have to remember it was non-existent a while ago. So, we just need to keep expanding in that vertical. You can also see in the US that sports betting is opening up more and more – it’s the most low risk vertical in terms of the political landscape and regulatory changes.

SBC: Talking more generally across verticals, where are the opportunities for you as a company? What are your key target markets in Europe?

RA: I think next year we have an excellent opportunity in the Netherlands. We have been historically big there, but have adjusted to the incoming regulations and basically been running a cool-off. Once it is regulated again, we have a really good market position to become very big in the country.

SBC: What about the UK market?

RA: The UK is a highly competitive market, there’s a lot of affiliates and a lot of operators. Acroud is growing in the UK, but it’s not our big ‘go-to’ market – our focus is more on the US and other emerging or fast-growing markets. 

SBC: And why is that?

RA: The UK is a great market, you can’t ignore it. But there is lots of competition. Even though the market is licensed and regulated, there’s no guarantee that there won’t be any abrupt changes. It’s quite a dynamic market in terms of licences and the political landscape – more so than a lot of people thought.

SBC: In terms of the US, how is that market going for you?

RA: My key takeaway from the US is that the market is still in infancy and there are a world of opportunities left still. It’s a new market, it’s going to evolve at a fast pace.

SBC: It’s been suggested the UK should follow the US in licensing affiliates; do you support this?

RA: Yeah, I do. And I think you’d get that answer from almost all affiliates out there.

SBC: And what about other mooted changes, namely the clampdown on free bets or reactivation bonuses across Europe? How does it affect what you do?

RA: It forces innovation, but in a good way. Bonusing has been quite an easy mechanic, but operators need to find new ways of diversifying themselves. This is what they need to think. 

How do you attract customers, either through affiliates or our own messaging? What is our USP compared to the next operator? Especially one whose logo is blue and yellow instead of green and white, but runs basically the same games and sign up processes.

It is then up to the affiliates, of course, to push that differentiation, rather than saying they have this bonus or that bonus. It’s going to be different messaging and different positioning but it will be led by the operators because they will need to do it.

SBC: Is there anything you can do external to the operators, or is this just about working with them to position them in the best way?

RA: From our side, I’d say it’s a bit of both.

SBC: And finally, what are your most pressing internal projects for the rest of 2020 and moving into 2021? Can you share any of these plans?

RA: We are focusing on expanding the sports betting vertical. There is also a new flagship product that we are building aimed towards the US. 

I’d say that 2020 has been a year of getting the organisation ready, new ways of working and putting people in the right places. Now, I’m really bullish about our exciting projects for 2021. This year has been more about doing the legwork in preparation for next year.

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