Affiliate Grand Slam by SiGMA
Alessandro Termenini, CEO at Casino sul web, joins the latest series of affiliate interviews on Affiliate Grand Slam
Building their knowledge step by step with humility, at Casino sul web, Alessandro Termenini and his collaborator think from the player's point of view and have a critical and objective approach towards the products they promote - follow his story below.
How did your affiliate business take off? And, is iGaming your only vertical?
My business took off in 2006 when I launched my first gambling-themed site. From the beginning I have always kept iGaming as the only reference and main business as I perceived the potential of the sector and I wanted to dedicate all my resources on development and enhancement without letting myself be distracted by other markets.
How did you first get into the affiliate space? And, were you always focused on the Gaming space?
Initially I studied the sites that dealt with affiliations in general with an eye to those dedicated to gaming. I immediately understood that this was the sector that best combined my passion and interest with the greatest growth prospects and therefore I immediately chose iGaming as the only sector on which to focus. From there I developed my site and came in contact with the first bookmakers and their affiliation campaigns.
How is your company structured, and what aspect of business development are you currently focused on?
My company currently consists mainly of two people, namely myself and a trusted collaborator with whom we divide the work and take the main decisions on the management of the activities. In moments of greatest work load we temporarily rely on external collaborators who develop content on our indication. Our focus is always on the development and updating of our sites in line with market trends and with the aim of providing our readers with increasingly higher quality content and tools that they cannot always find in the competition.
What can operators do to increase support with affiliates?
I believe that operators must select their affiliates more carefully and develop a relationship of greater interaction and collaboration with them than they do now. Mine is obviously a general discourse and fortunately I am fortunate to have some collaborations that in addition to being profitable, also give a lot of satisfaction on a human level. I also understand that from the point of view of operators, however, it is not easy to do so.
How can affiliates be more unique in their approach?
Affiliates should approach operators by focusing on the quality of their sites or communication channels and always trying to differentiate themselves from competitors. After all, this is the way of thinking of my company and I believe it is the key to the success of an affiliate campaign.
Which markets do you focus on and do you see any potential in the emerging markets?
Right now we are focused on the sports betting and online casino market. I believe that both still have strong potentials that have not been fully developed and in which it is worth investing. In particular, I refer to the interaction with the recently exploded social networks such as Telegram, Instagram, Tik Tok and Twitch. Outside of my work environment, I also believe that the cryptocurrency market can return to develop significant points of interest.
What makes your traffic proposition/traffic sites unique?
Probably I risk being presumptuous, but I believe that few sites can say that they are from a player's point of view like ours. Ours has always been a critical and objective approach towards the products we are going to promote, exalting them when we believe they are deserving but criticizing when in our opinion we do not look too much at the interest of the reader. Unlike others, from the beginning we gave up on proposing ourselves as great experts in the sector, but we built our knowledge step by step with humility. I really believe that humility is the characteristic that distinguishes our sites from the others.
Are you contemplating bringing in investors to scale or grow your business? Or, with such a big M&A market, have you ever contemplated selling the business?
I admit I received offers to sell my sites, some of which took me from sleep for several nights. I have always refused because I believe that the commitment and passion I have put into building my credibility and my business cannot be reduced to a simple economic value, no matter how high it is. I do not rule out that one day I will be able to expand my business to other investors but only if I am 100% sure that it is the right solution to give an important boost to the development of my business.
Which qualities and skills are essential in an affiliate team/business?
First of all, I believe that harmony between the members of the group is fundamental and that there is a common goal to be achieved. This does not mean that there are no discussions, even in an animated way at times, but everything must be functional to the work, and must not influence the personal relationship. Another key component is mutual trust between members, without which it would be better to work on your own. Between my collaborator and I, even before the working relationship, there is a friendship one. We have been friends since we were kids and I believe and hope that it will never be influenced by work.
What sets you apart from other affiliates?
This question should probably be asked of the operators and not me. However, I believe I have a good ability to relate to people in general, which allows me to speak casually even with the operators and to establish a relationship with them that very often goes beyond simple working dynamics.
How does technology play a part in your day-to-day?
Well, I would say that a person like me who works on average ten hours a day with the PC has a fairly close relationship with technology. Furthermore, since I live far away from home, from my parents, and relatives, technology allows me to have daily contact with them.
Which emerging technologies like AI and big data will impact the affiliate industry in 2020 and beyond?
Surely they could have an important impact, and I believe that due to the COVID-19 emergency we will notice their importance starting from 2021. I cannot say that I am an expert on the them though, so mine is only a feeling and a personal opinion.
Is the grass greener on the other side - have you considered going down the operator route?
Honestly, I can't deny that I also look to others and often find competitor proposals better than those available to me. I admit it's frustrating at times but not to the point where it ever made me think about quitting. I always try to take inspiration from others to improve my business.
Which markets are you eyeing up as a priority in 2020, and why?
As I said before, for 2020 I still consider the iGaming market a priority. The pandemic period and the numbers of the sector have shown its potential and I believe that from now on, people, unfortunately, given the cause, will be even more encouraged to play online than the classic one. I repeat that we would have gladly done without it, but even from such a sad event, I believe we will be able to draw new development opportunities.
How has the fragmentation of regulated markets affected your business? UKGC, Swedish regulator and now also the German regulator is mulling regulating this space.
At the moment, my business hasn’t been affected by this. Our reference market is essentially the Italian one and for the moment I have not felt any discomfort in this regard.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when starting out?
Good question. Compared to when I started many years ago, the industry has become much more competitive and staying at the top is becoming increasingly difficult. Over time I have learned to be much more selective in the choice of collaborators and to plan more long-term activities, and I think this would have been very convenient at the beginning.
What’s been your biggest nightmare to date?
My biggest nightmare at work is to get to a stalemate where my sites no longer have growth prospects and without having any idea how to reverse the situation myself. Fortunately, with hard work this danger has been averted, at least until today.
What are the main challenges for the sector in 2020?
I believe that this year the sector has been faced with a very tough challenge that could not be foreseen. I must say that the reaction has been excellent and certainly compared to many other sectors, iGaming has reacted well. The current challenge is therefore to recover lost ground but also to learn from what has happened to develop future strategies.
What are your predictions for the future of the sector?
I have great confidence in the future development of the sector. More and more often I see new operators making their entry into the market, increasing the competition and therefore pushing everyone to greater efforts aimed at a higher quality of their offer. The possibilities are not lacking, even though it is obvious that to be able to stay inside the business you need more skills than in the past.
What are the benefits of attending large iGaming events, and what can they do better?
I believe that the main advantage is the possibility of meeting in person the operators with whom you usually have a long-distance relationship. This allows you to get to know each other and deal with issues face to face which is never a bad thing. Furthermore, these events allow you to forge new partnerships, discover new products, and are a source of suggestions and ideas which I would say are almost inexhaustible.