We met Dan Bara, pioneer of the sportsbetting news and affiliate industry in Romania, for an interview about the company and thoughts about the industry.
Hello Dan, how are you? Are you ready for SiGMA17?
Hi Marius! Yes, after the last year success I can definitely say that i wait very much the 2017 edition. Not only that it takes place in the cradle of the gambling industry, but also the landscape and Malta is impressive.
How did you come to enter the online gaming space and set up your company?
It was more than 12 years ago. I started as a sports journalist for a big media group where I had very good people from where to “steal” knowledge in this field.
Combined with my passion for sportsbetting I quickly became in charge with the biggest community for betting in Romania. Then we started the first TV show for betting in Romania and first radio show for many years.
Across the time I have lead multiple websites and betting projects for big media groups. Without modesty I can say that probably I am the person that most of the people who bet in Romania know. Almost 2 years ago I decided to start my own project – www.pariuri1x2.ro, a decision that I will never regret.
Can you tell us a little about how your company business is structured?
The business is structured on multiple levels and is continuously expanding. On very short: we have more than 25 persons in the team, we produce the only 2 TV shows for betting in Romania on 2 channels with national audience, we produce the only online show for betting and on the website you can find innovative products.
In less than 2 years we reached same level as websites that are on the market for more than 10 years. All the focus is on development and expansion and we have incredible things coming up.
With the recent wave of consolidation, mergers and acquisitions of affiliate sites, are you surprised at all of the changes happening in the industry?
This does not happen only in affiliate industry or in gambling industry. It is a global trend and for now seems to be the future along with massive investments in technology.
This trend is 100% accurate in our small world and it only confirms that it is a industry which has a future. Still – to give my 2c the M&A’s successes depend a lot in possibility to keep/secure the oldteams in order to ensure a proper management and transfer of the business.
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?
Yes, some of them have taken this route and all I can say it is that they have a hard route ahead. The competition and innovation of the big brands makes any launch of this kind to be incredible hard and sustainable in the long term unless there is a solid investment available. This is not something that we consider doing.
Developing unique content is a key pillar of your strategy. What will be your primary focus on this front over the next 6 months?
As I said in the beginning, we have over 25 people in the team. Most of them are former journalists or have a solid experience in this industry. Our indicators show that our content is best on the market now and we always try to improve.
Which markets do you focus on and do you see any potential in the emerging markets ?
At the moment we only do business in the Romanian market. In the future we might expand in other countries in Eastern Europe, but this is a long term plan. Any emergent market is something very tempting but we believe that this kind of business cannot succeed without a local partner and finding the right partner is the key for every new market.
How do you findRomanian market and competition?
Romanian market is still a “virgin” market i could say. Only 2 years ago the online gambling was licensed and allowed, after a dark-grey period. 12-18 months before legalizing massive advertising bans and restrictions made almost everybody to forget about online gambling and the recreational players disappeared.
The market is still under rebuilt phase and it is increasing from one month to another. Affiliate market is not very competitive, with only few big brands which rely mostly on inertia that they have historically.
End of the day, it is a very good market and potential is high, especially given the fact that it has fastest growing economy in the EU.
How have Google’s algorithm updates affected the way you go about traffic generation, SEO and content at your company?
In less than 2 years we become leaders for most of the kw which are relevant for the Romanian betting industry ranking on most of them in positions 1-3. Our SEO strategy is a very clean and solid one which will ensure continuous growth and consolidation.
Are there any exciting plans in the works that you can tell us about?
We don’t want to disclose much about our plans, but this summer will bring very big development and additions both in innovation and in expansion. We will continue to do what we do best – performance.
What challenges and opportunities has the move to mobile presented you with?
Approx. 60% of our traffic is mobile. This is a standard and will continue to go in this direction. Mobile is one of the key components that will suffer important changes in the next period and starting 2018 mobile will be number 1 priority for all developments on our side.
What do you see as the biggest challenges ahead for your business and the wider affiliate sector in 2017?
I think the biggest challenges for the affiliate sector are the same as for the gambling operators because they are connected and grow/shrink together. Fast adoption and development of adblockers make the acquisition harder and harder every day.
In same time regulatory frameworks across the world develop more and sometimes impose unnecessary restrictions that increase the expenses of the industry, leaving less space for innovation, marketing and development.
What two pieces of advice would you give to any new affiliate starting today?
The market has become very competitive and is not so easy to start from 0 like few years ago. They need to be prepared for sleepless nights.In the early phases they need to read everything they find about the business, join affiliate conferences and discuss with affiliate managers + other affiliates, analyze all competitors and steal as much knowledge as possible.
Do you play slots and what would you do with 1 million Euro from jackpot winnings?
I play slots from time to time but not at a level to win 1 million EUR. Still if I would win that amount I think I would invest it all next day.
Dan Bara is the pioneer of the sportsbetting news and affiliate industry in Romania. He is the most recognizable figure in the industry and has presented numerous sports and betting themed TV shows and radio shows while being in charge of big media teams and projects. Since 2015 he started it’s own affiliate business in Romania.
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