“Affiliates must ensure they stay humble.. must understand it’s a whole new world out there, and accept they may not know everything.” A refreshing sentiment from the CEO of a company making tremendous waves in the highly competitive US market, using this expertise as an advantage to enter new markets – Latin America included.
In the run-up to his appearance as a speaker at SBC Summit Latinoamérica, MediaTroopers CEO and Co-Founder Shmulik Segal sat down for a chat with SBC Media. Discussions encompassed Segal’s insights on the alluring aspects of Latin America for affiliates, the common challenges facing affiliates in the region, the delicate balance between success and failure in affiliate marketing, effective strategies for competing with industry leaders, and the importance of maintaining humility as the key to seamless market entry.
SBC: What are the key factors that make Latin America an attractive market for affiliates?
Shmulik Segal: When I think about the Latin American market – several key factors come to mind for affiliates:
The first is the size of its population. Brazil alone has over 200 million people, with the continent boasting over 670 million. Though this is an immature market, it is organising itself in a way that will set it up for success – with the expected revenue from iGaming and sports betting in the continent projected to reach $4.4 billion by 2026.
Next is the region’s increased regulation. At MediaTroopers, we only operate in regulated markets, as this helps to ensure the authenticity and integrity of the games and the industry. Additionally, regulations will attract key operators, media platforms, and technology providers to seek partnerships. This encourages big players with decades of experience in the industry to come to Latin America and help take it to the next level once the regulations are in place —taking affiliates along with them.
Thirdly, there is already a strong betting culture. Whether it is football matches, poker, bingo or the lottery, betting is not a new phenomenon on the continent. The excitement around betting will only grow as the means to bet become easier, with an increased number of operators, technology platforms and games to choose from.
Additionally, there is a significant crossover that works in our favour. There are a few focal points in the world when it comes to sports, and as far as the US sports ecosystem, which extends far beyond North America, we are at the centre of it. There’s a fascinating crossover between sports and global fandom for the National Football League (NFL), National Basketball Association (NBA), Major League Baseball (MLB) and other American sports. What this means for us at MediaTroopers is that we get to use our knowledge of keywords, marketing channels, events, conversion techniques and more to leverage our expertise and enter these markets.
There’s also the Major League Soccer (MLS), which has been growing constantly amongst young audiences. And with Messi now playing here in Miami and the World Cup in 2024, America is now becoming a spectacle of world soccer. There are definitely exciting opportunities on the soccer front when it comes to betting in Latin America.
When it comes to MediaTroopers, we have the advantage of readily available resources to help facilitate synergetic opportunities. Our robust infrastructure includes platforms, expertise, knowledge and trained staff, and although adjustments will be needed, we intend to use this existing infrastructure to leverage our entry into the marketplace. =
SBC: What challenges do affiliate marketers commonly encounter when operating in Latin America, and how can these be overcome?
SS: Affiliates and operators entering Latin America face a dynamic environment, distinct from mature markets, as the region is still in the early stages of development thus presenting a range of challenges.
Firstly, affiliates need to understand the player, the player’s value and how to maintain the player’s interests. This means learning about the betting culture, what operators are present, and the different platforms and verticals which are available. Furthermore, if affiliates come from markets with readily available technology and tracking systems, it may be challenging to enter a market that is still in the early stages of development and without these facilities. As a result, affiliates may struggle to adapt their strategies in order to meet the needs of the current state of affairs.
Secondly, when it comes to safety and security, regulation is only the starting point. We at MediaTroopers hold ourselves to a high standard when it comes to player safety, data protection and responsible gambling. As a company, we continuously ask ourselves how can we create a safe gambling environment in a new market? How will regulation adapt alongside the development of iGaming in Latin America?
Lastly, there is payment and processing, which can be a showstopper if you don’t have the right banking channels. Finding the most trustworthy, secure partners when it comes to banking will be a big challenge for everyone – operators and affiliates alike.
SBC: In your opinion, what sets apart successful affiliates in Latin America from those who face difficulties in the market?
SS: In order to be successful in Latin America, affiliates will first need to learn and understand the market on a fundamental level. This involves knowing the language, the local references, the slang, and for our purposes, key sports and athletes. From there, affiliates will need to familiarise themselves with the local operators, service providers, payment operators, and the state of regulation.
Although newcomers may bring more experience and expertise from regulated markets – affiliates must also ensure they stay humble. Affiliates can’t assume they are going to teach the market everything they know or that they can simply reuse previous strategies with slight adjustments. They must understand it’s a whole new world out there where they must create meaningful local partnerships, and accept they may not know everything.
Furthermore, with Latin America, although the market is huge, the iGaming market is still under development. This means that a majority of players are at a very early stage of understanding the iGaming market. Affiliates and operators will need to first educate the players in order to attract them. Additionally, because there is less brand loyalty (unlike the US markets), operators and affiliates will need to adapt their strategies to deliver good quality players in the long term… So its Educate, Attract, Adapt.
Your primary operational focus is in the United States, where obtaining licences to operate your brand was a necessity. Can you describe the process you went through and highlight any notable challenges you faced?
The thing with the US market is that you always need to be fully regulated. The biggest challenge in this regard was first understanding what requirements are actually needed as an affiliate. In general, US states fall into one of four categories.
The first category includes states that don’t require any kind of licence, enabling affiliates to operate on a Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) model or a Revenue Share (RevShare) model – states such as New York. The second category comprises states that don’t have any type of licence, but only allow affiliates to operate on a CPA model – like Illinois. The third category encompasses states that support a single licence for both CPA and RevShare, as is the case with Indiana. And finally, there are states that offer two types of licences, a CPA licence and a RevShare licence – like New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
After these requirements are understood, it is a matter of investing time and money in obtaining the licences and going through the regulatory process.
MediaTroopers received its Virginia licence in April 2021. The company’s marketing intelligence team had been sitting on the sidelines for a while, waiting for Virginia to launch. Our legal team got our application through the door as soon as the Virginia Lottery started accepting applications, and it paid off, as we were one of the first six companies to receive a licence in the state, alongside Google and Facebook.
SBC: The US market is characterised by a small number of dominant operators, which contrasts with the situation in European markets. How does this impact the strategies and operations of affiliates in the US?
SS: Having fewer operators means that there are fewer options for players and more specific requirements that need to be met to attract them. MediaTroopers’ strategy has been to develop and invest heavily in our partnerships with these top brands and remain up to date with any new regulations that come into play. Moreover, when new markets go live, we make it a point to ensure that we have the necessary requirements in place to launch alongside them.
Additionally, trust and brand loyalty play more significant roles in people’s decision-making in the US than in Europe or Latin America. Having recognisable, big-name brands ensures that players understand their money and future earnings are safe. Unfortunately, this means that new operators or verticals, such as Fantasy Sports and social casinos, find it more challenging to attract players, as they aren’t as well-known to the average American.
We are lucky enough to have gained experience in both types of markets: the European market, which is more dispersed, and the US market which is more centralised. As a result, we value and cultivate our expertise and solutions for both of these markets. What’s more, we often leverage the expertise and capabilities we have gained in one market to leverage and operate in the other. For instance, we have an extensive network of hundreds of publishers that are utilised in both big and small markets, as many of these have unique ways of reaching audiences we might not otherwise reach. Alternatively, we employ many of our big-market practices and procedures to improve our service and delivery in dispersed, smaller markets.
SBC: What international markets do you currently view as the most promising for affiliates? Are there any plans for launching and expanding into these markets in the near future?
SS: For MediaTroopers, the most important aspect in a new market, if not the only important aspect, is whether it is regulated.
Regulation determines how affiliates can promote it, for example, through SEO vs. buying media, as most media channels like Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc., will not allow affiliates to promote sports betting and iGaming in black or grey markets.
In this regard, the biggest markets on our radar are Brazil, Chile, and Argentina given that they will have the regulatory frameworks in place to support white channels.
Additionally, MediaTroopers is always looking towards the new US states and Canadian provinces that pass regulations and go live.
Shmulik Segal will be speaking on the ‘Navigating the Affiliation Frontier in Latin America’ panel which is part of the ‘Affiliate and Advertising’ conference track at SBC Summit Latinoamérica. The panel will take place on November 1, from 16:15 – 17:00. Segal will be joined by Lee Gwilliam (Director Commercial & Casino, Gambling.com), Christopher Iyahin Guzman (Head of Affiliates, Strendus), Fred Motta (Managing Director Brazil, PlayAnywhere) and panel moderator Katarina Stojanovic (Head of Affiliates, GiG Media).