Interview with Michael Steen Pedersen, Founder of Gambling Deals
“Be different, be innovative, disrupt the space. Find a niche concept that there is a demand for.” We caught up with Michael Steen Pedersen to get to know a bit more about his recent project – Gambling Deals.
How did you come to enter the online gaming space and set up your company?
The first time I was introduced to the igaming industry is 10 years ago, when I was doing a semester at university of Malta. On the side I had a part time job at Poker Loco in St Julians. Last 3 years I have been working with permission marketing where igaming is one of our focuses.
Can you tell us a little about how your company business is structured?
We operate Gambling Deals, the first loyalty platform that provides operators the opportunity to drive new acquisition from members that are interested in an on-going reward. Operators have raised concerns that affiliates are demanding high CPA’s, driving traffic that is focused on a one off bonus. Often these players don’t affiliate with the brand and are highly likely to close their account soon after their initial playing activity. We have addressed these concerns and have totally flipped that model on its head. Instead we work to drive long term player value from engaged and serious players, leveraging cashback as the loyalty mechanism.
Gambling Deals has been established for the last two years by two founders that have experience working in one of the UK’s largest retail and commerce publishers. Their learnings and expertise in the loyalty and cashback space has resulted in a product that drives loyalty and incremental sales. I was astounded to see that the average player lifetime with Gambling Deals is over two year. What’s more, Gamblings Deals holds all of the player’s demographic data and have firsthand contact with VIPs – meaning upselling promos and new incentives becomes straightforward. I’m excited to now be leading this product and can’t wait to take things to the next level.
With the recent wave of consolidation, mergers and acquisitions of affiliate sites, are you surprised at all of the changes happening in the industry?
The affiliate market is mature and has come a long way over the last 10 years with affiliate sites changing and evolving from one-man bands operating in garages and bedrooms to becoming large companies leveraging and harnessing data to best target traffic in a fast moving and saturated space. Consolidation is part of a mature market and with more acquisitions happening this week it is not something that will slowdown any time soon. Any mature market is more difficult to penetrate as a new business but those with truly disruptive and innovative ideas will be successful. That’s why we’re so excited with the technology and product that we have developed at Gambling Deals.
A number of your competitors have gone down the real money operator route, and tried their hand at white labels. Have you also done this?
The real money operator route has become an incredibly saturated market and unless you have a new/different product idea or feature that will allow you to standout from the crowd then it will be a difficult journey.
We are focused on delivering the first loyalty product for the Gaming space that supports in-house retention teams. We’re in constant contact with our VIPs and understand how they play, what they enjoy and how much they want to transact. This means we can help operators put the right offers in front of our players. We understand that using affiliates as an extension to the core loyalty offering is a new channel for operators, but we are keen to create two-way partnerships that drive acquisition and loyalty. We really feel that this new approach to affiliation will be represent success for all of our partners. Particularly as we turn our attention away from just the core product and focus on scaling up our member base.
Developing unique content is a key pillar of your strategy. What will be your primary focus on this front over the next 6 months?
The last two years have been dedicated to improve the technological side of the platform, and now that we start to grow our user base, we are renewing our content strategy.
Our platform is different from any other affiliate site, and so is our content strategy. In fact we don’t have just to write articles that will try to bring new players through search engines and social media.We have our own user base, so our content is also developed for retention. This translates into the use of different channels of communication: not only our website, but also email and SMS.
Which markets do you focus on and do you see any potential in the emerging markets ?
Gambling Deals was born in the UK and has established a place at the performance table in this home market. Cashback is a mature product within the commerce and retail sectors in the UK and has been welcomed by consumers in the gambling sector. The quick adoption has come from UK users wanting to be rewarded for their ongoing loyalty with brands rather than for a quick sign up bonus.
We are looking with keen interest on the Scandinavian markets and you can expect to see Gambling Deals expanding into these new territories, launching new partnerships and growing our membership base.
How do you find International market and competition?
The cashback concept in the wider commerce space is still in its infancy throughout Europe with the UK, Australia and the US having mature markets with cashback consumers. This makes our job at Gambling Deals launching a cashback loyalty product into new markets more challenging. Our plan to educate users and popularize the function of receiving money back as a loyalty payment when the chips do not fall your way will take place via multiple channels. These include country specific marketing partnerships and a variety of communication tools employed throughout the on-boarding process.
Our technology places in a completely unique position as a true market leader as we have built a technology that speaks with our partners back-end systems and automatically reports on a daily basis. This scalable technology allows us to show each individual user’s cashback reward updated on a daily basis. We then pay this cashback to a member’s Skrill, Paypal or bank account. There are cashback partners popping up but they do not offer the user the automated experience that we do. This customer trust in our platform sets us apart, meaning we can drive greater player lifetime for our customers. Helping us both in attracting our own sources of acquisition and in providing a superior product to the competition.
How have Google’s algorithm updates affected the way you go about traffic generation, SEO and content at your company?
Google changes his algorithms every day, but we don’t worry about it. We know what Google wants for its users, and we want the same for them. Once the big picture is clear, small details don’t make much difference.
Are there any exciting plans in the works that you can tell us about?
We’re full of exciting plans and ideas, Marius. I touched earlier on our plans for international growth and expansion as we lead with innovation to create the industry’s leading loyalty platform. We plan to support and fuel this growth with partners from within each territory who are looking to best monetize their traffic. Why just earn an affiliate commission on either a first deposit reward or on a player who churns at a partner after 3 weeks? We will retain and monetize your traffic better than anyone else. We attract quality players and have high value players that have been with us for the two years since launch, spending large amounts across multiple partners. This new affiliate programme is a win win for all involved as we maximize the value and lifetime of the player for both the affiliate and for the operator.
We have recently pushed a VIP programme into Beta launch which is casino focused as we look to provide players with a hands on first class customer experience and incentivize their sales with a loyalty reward which drives incremental revenue for our VIP Pro enabled partners. This VIP Pro programme for casinos will be launched soon and I’d love to talk through this opportunity with any potential partners.
What is the main thing that you’d like Sigma readers to know about your sites?
We drive new high quality traffic that returns longer term value through the mechanism of cashback. This makes Gambling Deals a fantastic additional to your marketing strategy by giving your customers an extended loyalty offering.
What challenges and opportunities has the move to mobile presented you with?
We understood the value of mobile and have developed a product that is mobile first and fully mobile responsive. The statistics backing the importance for mobile traffic within iGaming are obvious and businesses have to embrace and evolve with this change in consumer behavior.
What two pieces of advice would you give to any new affiliate starting today?
Be different, be innovative, disrupt the space. Find a niche concept that there is a demand for.
Do you play slots and what would you do with 1 million Euro from jackpot winnings?
No! I would invest the money into some of our ongoing projects.
|Relive the highlights from our last show and stay tuned for this year’s SiGMA. Watch out for what we’re branding as the ‘iGaming Village’ this year.||Are you an operator looking for top affiliates? Are you a top affiliate looking for a nice treat with like-minded affiliates playing at the same level?|