We met Mark Watson from www.kasinoking.co.uk, affiliate who has launched a dozen websites for an interview about his business and thoughts about the industry.
Are you ready for SiGMA17?
Always ready for conferences – it’s so nice to get out of the office and meet the operators face-to-face.
How did you come to enter the online gaming space and set up your company?
I started playing online casinos in 2001 and was quickly hooked to the “easy money” which could be made in those days by using their generous bonuses. However, I found there were very few affiliate portals giving the important information about the bonuses which I needed to decide where to play next. So I decided to make my own website!
Can you tell us a little about how your company business is structured?
Little is the right word – it’s just me, all on my own. I do EVERYTHING myself.
When I started I knew literally nothing about making a website – I just learned the bare minimum to get a few pages on to the internet. From 2017 I am teaming up with another guy to try some joint ventures and create some new websites.
With the recent wave of consolidation, mergers and acquisitions of affiliate sites, are you surprised at all of the changes happening in the industry?
Over the last 10 years I have learned not to be too surprised about anything that happens in our industry; however I was totally shocked at 3 highly reputable brands turning rogue in the last 12-months with no prior warnings at all:
- Refilliates sold out, and the new rogue owners shut down the affiliate system and stole ALL our players.
- Affiliate Edge (Club World Group) had an internal bust up which resulted in them going from Excellent to Excrement in a matter of weeks.
- Fast Track Group got sold to a rogue operator. As they were my best earner in 2016, this was a real kick in the pants!
After all that, I honestly don’t think anything else can surprise me.
Have you got any messages for the casino operators?
- Have a decent and simple player welcome bonus with low wagering.
- Make sure you have a named contact for each affiliate who knows the business inside out and is easily contactable.
- Have affiliate reporting which is clear, concise, easy to use and includes ALL relevant data including deposits, withdrawals and all fees& deductions.
- If you change ANYTHING (especially welcome bonuses), make sure your affiliates know about it by specific communication.
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?
No – and I have no interest whatever in going down that route. Being an affiliate is arguably the best job in the world – why change?
Developing unique content is a key pillar of your strategy. What will be your primary focus on this front over the next 6 months?
I will be carrying on as before – always trying new things, adding new info, updating old stuff, etc.
Which markets do you focus on and do you see any potential in the emerging markets ?
I focus on English-speaking countries world-wide. I don’t plan on trying to get into other markets as I don’t have the required skills.
How do you find UK market and competition?
Frankly – bloody awful! In my opinion there are FAR too many online casinos generally, and MASSES of TV advertising by the “big boys”. This makes attracting potential UK players to sign up via my website a massive task.
How have Google’s algorithm updates affected the way you go about traffic generation, SEO and content at your company?
Quite honestly I have never bothered even trying to understand how Google works or doing any SEO. And I never check my SERPS. What will be, will be.
Are there any exciting plans in the works that you can tell us about?
Not sure I would use the term “exciting” – my immediate plans are to reduce my main website from 70 to 30 pages and from 200+ to only 100+ casinos.
Reason being I just cannot keep so much stuff up-to-date on my own – it’s too time consuming. I am also working on new websites, which adds to the burden.
What is the main thing that you’d like Sigma readers to know about your sites?
They are the best casino portals in the world! (In my very humble opinion)
The main thing is I am a casino player – not just some marketing guy – so my reviews and information are from a players-eye view.
What challenges and opportunities has the move to mobile presented you with?
Unfortunately the software I use for my main site is not mobile compatible, so my challenge is to make a mobile version of it using a different platform. But this gives me the opportunity to make a much smaller, slicker site with just a small number of the very best casinos = less work to keep it up-to-date.
What do you see as the biggest challenges ahead for your business and the wider affiliate sector in 2017?
Regulation appearing in different countries is a major pain for everyone.
What two pieces of advice would you give to any new affiliate starting today?
Don’t work with Rogue Operators, NCO or Quotas.
Expect to work VERY hard for months or even years before you are rewarded.
Do you play slots and what would you do with 1 million Euro from jackpot winnings?
I only play slots every day…! (Well almost – about 340 days per year).
If I won a jackpot that big I would have to seriously think about retiring – as I’m over 50 I think I worked enough years already!
Mark Watson is from the south coast of England and has over 40 years gambling experience, having started playing fruit machines in his teens, later moving on to betting on racing and visiting B&M casinos. In 2008 he gave up his day job and became a full-time affiliate and house-husband. Working entirely alone he has launched a dozen websites with varying levels of success.
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.