Affiliate Grand Slam by SiGMA
Jacob Ljunggren, Product Director at Leadstar Media, joins the latest series of affiliate interviews on Affiliate Grand Slam
Jacob Ljunggren and his team at Bookiesbonuses put a lot of emphasis on having a learning culture, organic growth, and developing great people - follow his story below.
How is your Bookiesbonuses structured, and what aspect of business development are you currently focused on?
Bookiesbonuses is mainly focused on the UK market, with the main objective of comparing betting sites. We are always looking to improve our content to make sure that our visitors will find the help and guidance they seek for their online sports betting. We have really talented people working on the site that we consider one of our flagship products.
Our main focus points when it comes to business development have always been organic growth and developing great people that can help us with that. This means we put a lot of emphasis on having a learning culture.
Do communication and support with operators meet your expectations? How do you manage your relationship with them?
Generally it does. However, everything is a negotiation, where both parties have to give and take for the greater benefit. As an SEO focused company, the most important factor for us when it comes to the partnerships is longevity. We want to find long term relationships that do not rely on quick changes.
How can affiliates be more unique in their approach?
I think it is about finding what you are really good at, and focus on that. We are very good at SEO, which means that we try to become the best in that category. A lot of affiliates are, in my opinion, too broad in their approach and have too many niches.
Which markets do you target with Bookiesbonuses and do you see any potential in the emerging markets?
We are mainly focussed on the UK market, but we also get some international traffic from English speaking countries. For example Canada, India, and a few African countries. Of course, the big emerging English speaking country is the US, and we are interested in that market.
What makes your traffic proposition/traffic sites unique?
We have a lot of passion, and believe that in the SEO game, the team that put most effort into always improving the website will win. We also have the mindset that we should create the best product in whichever geo or vertical we target, but we also know that it takes time. SEO is a marathon, and we are ready to run the entire race.
Which qualities and skills are essential in an affiliate team/business?
As I previously mentioned, passion and passionate people are the most important qualities. We usually hire people with less experience, but with a high motivation and eagerness to learn.
What sets you apart from other affiliates?
Our tight-knit team and our low employee turnover. We believe in building people. And they will in turn build products. Everybody at the company has a high level of autonomy and responsibility, which we know will make the products better.
How did Bookiesbonuses become this successful? What helps make your performance successful, particularly during this pandemic? What are the main challenges?
Bookiesbonuses has had a long history and we have a lot of data that tells us what the users want. So we have been able to adapt our product with that in mind.
Unfortunately, during a pandemic it is hard to do much when you are an SEO affiliate, since you are dependent on search volume. If the volume goes down, automatically your revenue will go down. However, we have such a good position that we managed to get through the worst months without too much damage.
The main challenge is to not focus on the negative situation but to see the light at the end of the tunnel - and this is achieved by continuously working with the product. Bad situations always get better at some point. Which we saw already during June and July.
Is the grass greener on the other side - have you considered going down the operator route?
No, not really. We want to focus on what we do the best, and entering other categories would, we believe, make the company lose that focus.
Which markets are you eyeing up as a priority in 2020, and why?
We are always willing to enter any market where we see potential, but 2020 and 2021 will primarily be about gaining momentum in the US market. A big challenge for us, but based on our success in other markets I am sure we will make good strides and get a good position in the US.
How has the fragmentation of regulated markets affected your business? UKGC, Swedish regulator and now also the German regulator is mulling regulating this space.
It is always a challenge to adapt to regulations, and I know that a lot of smaller affiliates have a hard time keeping up with the even changing landscape. From a technical viewpoint, we have a flexible content managing system that makes it easy to implement any changes when it comes to compliance, no matter what kind of market it concerns.
Of course, regulation that makes things difficult for the operators will in turn make things difficult for us. This can have an impact on our revenue. We welcome regulation that protects players, but it still has to make sense. Regulation in Sweden has obvious issues, and the German regulation does not look all to promising. However, we have so far managed to avoid any major drawbacks due to regulations.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when starting out?
To trust my instincts. In the beginning it is easy to worry about a lot of things and not make any real progress. If you believe that you have good intuition, just go for it. Success will come.
What’s been your biggest nightmare to date?
The number of users on the websites in April 2020. However, I am extremely proud that we managed to get out of the whole situation and even come out better on the other side. Hard work during difficult times, pays off.
What are the benefits of attending large iGaming events, and what can they do better?
For the company it is always great to come to large iGaming events and meet partners. For me personally, I prefer going to events for the seminars. I thoroughly enjoy them. So my suggestion for improvement is to further increase the quality of the panel members and topics. It is already at a good level, but nothing is ever perfect!
Have you ever been to SiGMA? Would you consider attending SiGMA Manila or SiGMA Malta at some point?
I have actually never been to SiGMA, mainly because I am not involved with the sales part of the business. However, it does not seem unlikely that I will attend SiGMA Malta at some point. I guess I am in a small minority in this industry when I say I have never visited Malta.
Tell us a bit about yourself - after all, business is done with people, not just companies!
Most interesting question so far! Just kidding. Swedish, just turned 30. I joined Leadstar Media in 2017 and began working with Bookiesbonuses.com as a website manager, but I am now Product Director for Leadstar Media. This means less direct responsibility for the specific product, but more responsibility for the people managing the Leadstar Media products and overall business strategy.
I really like entrepreneurship, solving problems and all parts of a business, but my main knowledge lies within SEO. I have no “proper” education, but what I have learnt at Leadstar Media and from my own research and testing has made me confident in my ability. Nowadays my focus is to become a better leader with each passing day.
What do you like to do in your spare time, such as hobbies?
I like music, sports and also have an unhealthy obsession with playing Counter-Strike that I constantly fail to wean off.
What is your most favourite book?
I don’t read as much as I used to or probably should, especially fiction. Don’t have any one favourite book, but at the moment I try to get through “Why we sleep” by Matthew Walker.
Are you are into iGaming yourself,
I am not a big punter myself, I leave that to others. It is however rare for me to watch a game of any sport without having a bet placed.
What is your most favourite quote?
I am also getting more and more into a minimalist lifestyle, so when I found this quote from Leonardo da Vinci, I thought it would be suitable: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”