SiGMA met Viktorija Antanaviciute from iBus Media Group, for an interview about her business and thoughts about the industry.
Hello Viktorija, how are you? Are you ready for the Tallinn Affiliate Grand Slam 2017?
Hi Marius, as it is just around the corner, I am really looking forward to attending the Tallinn Affiliate Grand Slam 2017, and spending some great time with industry colleagues. In 2016 I attended SIGMA, and it was a great overall experience.
How did you come to enter the online gaming space and set up your company?
PokerNews was started back in 2002 by Tony G, and at that time PokerNews was one of the early starters in online poker community. I joined the company in 2012, when iBus Media had already grown into multi-channel company with PokerNews and our affiliate network OnlineAffiliateWorld leading the way. And five years later I still enjoy every day working here together with the ever-growing team.
Can you tell us a little about how your company business is structured?
iBus Media currently has two divisions, classed as B2C and B2B. B2C includes our Portals and Networks and PMD (Performance Marketing Dimensions), and B2B offers effective marketing solutions to our partners.
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 industry is becoming more and more competitive and the margins are becoming smaller, so the changes as a result of this are not so surprising.
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?
This is not something that we are looking at doing in the short term, we are more concerned with concentrating on the more traditional affiliate path as opposed to going down the operator route. This may change in the medium to long term.
Developing unique content is a key pillar of your strategy. What will be your primary focus on this front over the next 6 months?
PokerNews covers a lot of live events across the world, so as usually we will be ahead of everyone else to bring our audience the freshest updates from the events. And we have some exciting ones on the way with WSOP starting in May, followed by our very own PokerNews CUP and many other events in between.
Which markets do you focus on and do you see any potential in the emerging markets?
In 2017 our focus stays on Western Europe and Scandinavia, as well as Canada. I do see a lot of potential in LatAm region, specifically in Brazil – so this will be one of the emerging markets to focus on.
How do you find Scandic markets and competition?
I would say that for Poker Scandic markets are not that saturated as, for example, UK so there is definitely room for further growth in this niche.
How have Google’s algorithm updates affected the way you go about traffic generation, SEO and content at your company?
The recent changes actually turned out to be very good for us, as we saw improvements across our rankings. Overall iBusMedia and PokerNews has always had a very strong and agile SEO team, and changes in Google algorithm updates have not had a significant impact for iBus.
Are there any exciting plans in the works that you can tell us about?
After two years away PokerNews is back as the official live reporting partner of the World Series of Poker. It is very exciting and of course very busy times for us, as we will have more than 30 people on the ground in Las Vegas during the WSOP. Also, we are planning some exciting things with our Partners during WSOP – so keep an eye on that!
What is the main thing that you’d like Sigma readers to know about your sites?
We always strive to be one step ahead in everything that we do in both B2C and B2B. Take a look not only at PokerNews, but also at our rapidly growing portal CasinoSmash – I promise, those guys will make you want to play!
What challenges and opportunities has the move to mobile presented you with?
For us, primarily working as an affiliate media company the main challenge is tracking and focusing on the perfect conversion funnel. Thanks to our Business Intelligence team, I am confident to say that we have a lot of innovative solutions that helps us to track live data and adjust accordingly, making sure that our audience has the best experience on PokerNews and our Clients are happy with the results.
What do you see as the biggest challenges ahead for your business and the wider affiliate sector in 2017?
As for every affiliate and advertiser across the market, I think the main challenges will be related to legal updates, happening across Europe.
What two pieces of advice would you give to any new affiliate starting today?
Focus on growing your audience and knowing it inside-out, and be very proactive with the Advertisers – usually we are missing opportunities, because we simply don’t ask for them. Or just join OnlineAffiliateWorld and our team will help and guide you in every step of the way!
Do you play slots and what would you do with 1 million Euro from jackpot winnings?
Remember me mentioning earlier that Casino Smash team will make anyone want to play? So actually, thanks to them I started playing slots in the last year! Well, if I would win 1 million Euros, I would keep on working at PokerNews, but everyone who knows me – also know that I would love to start a business in the fashion industry.
Viktorija Antanaviciute is the Commercial Director of the iBus Media Group, managing and representing PokerNews, CasinoSmash, Online Affiliate World and other projects. She is an experienced and passionate marketing and affiliate professional with a wealth of iGaming knowledge.
Have you attended SiGMA last year? 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.