The challenge of running the affiliate team at a major international operator is ever evolving, with stricter regulations, launches in new markets, developments in technology and the shifting sporting landscape just some of the issues to tackle.
Ahead of taking his team to SBC Summit Barcelona, Triston Smook, Head Of Affiliates for Betsson Group Affiliates, tells us how he is coping with the changing landscape and why he relishes the task.
SBC: Betsson has entered three new markets – Belgium, Ontario and Nigeria – in the past 18 months. What are the particular challenges of running affiliate campaigns in those territories?
Triston Smook: We are excited about these three new markets and each of these markets presents its own set of distinctive challenges and opportunities, which we are eager to address strategically.
As it stands right now, we are not working directly with Belgium as this is not an affiliate-focused market. Nigeria and Ontario are really exciting opportunities for us, which we’re currently monitoring.
SBC: Turning our attention to Betsson’s more established markets, what sort of changes have you noticed during 2023? Are there any new types of affiliates that are proving particularly successful?
TS: In 2023 we have experienced a sustained and encouraging trend of growth in our established markets, reflecting our unwavering commitment to excellence across all our brands and geographies.
Notably, Pay-Per-Click (PPC), Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), and media buying affiliates have demonstrated their efficacy as the top-performing segments within our affiliate network. This performance can be attributed to their ability to target and deliver high-value customers who actively seek our brands and products.
SBC: Some of the long-established markets now have restrictive advertising regulations and other jurisdictions look likely to follow that example. How difficult has player acquisition become in countries such as Spain and Italy? What sort of approaches can your team and Betsson’s affiliate partners use, while remaining within the regulations?
TS: The evolving landscape of regulatory frameworks across various jurisdictions has indeed become part of the norm, with each country prescribing its own set of criteria to ensure a secure gaming environment for players while imposing stringent regulation on operators.
In Italy we have an advertising ban on gambling. This leaves affiliation as the main source for acquiring new customers. Our biggest traffic source is social media and SEO, but we must be meticulous to ensure that every promotion undertaken by our affiliate partners aligns with the stipulated licence requirements.
In Spain, apart from the limitations in promotional offers, and prohibition of sponsorships, the focus on streaming platforms and tipsters has taken shape as the main sources. Here it’s not about the welcome offer but the product, and this is what attracts the players.
SBC: Betsson has been very active in the sports sponsorship space recently; how effective is that approach in supporting the affiliate team’s activities?
TS: Our strategic involvement in sports sponsorships has proven highly effective in bolstering the activities of our affiliate team. These partnerships provide us with a significant advantage, as they enable our brands to enjoy prominent visibility on the jerseys of renowned teams boasting millions of passionate supporters.
We are particularly proud about the sponsorship we signed with Boca Juniors. This iconic Argentinian club further strengthens our brand and opens the door to future success.
It’s a real feather in the cap to be able to showcase these big teams and names alongside our popular brands. It serves as a valuable asset when our affiliate team engages in discussions about new partnerships or mention how working with our brands can benefit our partners via the extensive publicity and exposure generated by these high-profile sponsorships.
SBC: We hear a lot about the growing popularity of and rising TV audiences for women’s sports; are they helping to drive FTDs or do men’s football, horse racing and tennis continue to dominate?
TS: Passion always follows sport and this transcends gender boundaries. There is a sense of unity and pride in supporting anyone that represents your country, wears your national colours and sings your national anthem. We are bonded by this cultural connection.
In recent years, we have witnessed a notable increase in investments from sports organisations, sponsors, and broadcasters in women’s sports. This concerted effort has significantly elevated the profile of women’s sports, resulting in larger and more engaged audiences.
Events such as the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the Olympics, Women’s NCAA Basketball, and the tennis Grand Slam tournaments have captured global attention. Moreover, the success of influential female athletes has helped to generate a strong following as they are ambassadors and role models for the sports they represent.
More females are being motivated to compete at the highest levels not only by these influential athletes, but also by the increased media coverage and promotion for equality. It is true though that men’s football and other sports still dominate, but there is a growing presence of female sports and influential athletes that have taken women’s sports to new heights. Gamblers always bet with passion, and this is true for any sport whether it’s male or female.
It is worth noting that in 2022 Betsson was the exclusive Sportsbook Partner of CONMEBOL Copa América Femenina and also the first main sponsor in the history of the Athletico Paranaense women’s football team. Building on this momentum, in 2023, Betsson continued its commitment to supporting women’s sports by sponsoring the 26th IHF Women’s Handball World Championship and by being the very first betting sponsor for the Boca Juniors women’s team in Argentina.
SBC: What about Betsson’s casino offering – have you noted any affiliates doing anything new and imaginative to drive traffic? Or are sign-up bonuses still king?
TS: Welcome bonuses are not going to go away anytime soon. They are a vital part of any affiliate strategy, attracting potential customers to brands. This practice is integral to affiliate marketing, providing strong incentives for registration and participation.
There are always new or creative bonuses tested on different sites, but there is a formula to all of this and the type of bonus offered will determine the player you are trying to target and their value.
In regulated markets, bonus options are limited, which creates a level playing field, as our competitors are subject to the same restrictions. Affiliates also innovate with new bonus structures. However, bonus choice depends on target demographics.
To maintain a dynamic and engaging casino offering, we continuously introduce new games and providers. These efforts serve to introduce freshness into our offerings and cater to the evolving preferences of our audience. Moreover, promotions play a vital role in keeping our customers engaged and entertained.
SBC: The Betsson Affiliates team will be exhibiting at SBC Summit Barcelona – what are you looking forward to at the conference and trade show?
The team and I are very excited about this conference as it will be our first time at SBC Summit Barcelona. The conference promises to be very good, being the biggest one SBC has ever put together. It will be great to see how they managed to split up the zones as they call them to distinguish between sports betting, casino & igaming, payments & compliance, affiliate marketing and emerging tech. Usually these areas are intertwined together which does create some confusion.
For SBC Summit Barcelona, I have arranged for our whole team to be there, and we are all looking forward to a great event. I am also excited about giving a couple of our new starters their first conference experience. It’s always fun to see how others perceive such events, and a great opportunity to fine tune or develop their networking skills.
And last, but certainly not least, the amazing city itself – what a vibrant place filled with rich culture and amazing cuisine. It’s a place that always leaves lasting memories and as a team we will be looking to make positive ones.
Betsson Group Affiliates will be at booth AM316 in the Affiliate, Marketing & Media Zone at SBC Summit Barcelona, which takes place at Fira Barcelona Montjuïc on 19-21 September 2023. Tickets for the Global Betting & iGaming Show, which features 350 exhibitors and a conference with 450 expert speakers, are available here.