iGaming Affiliates 2023: How to Guarantee Maximum Value from Your Traffic, with Sergei Belikov, CEO of Mobinc Group

The double impact of the clamp-down on advertising, and the trailing effects of the Covid19 pandemic, now means that operators, more than ever, are reliant on affiliates and affiliate traffic to maintain acquisition levels.

As a result of this new dynamic, the power of affiliates in the iGaming industry has gone from strength to strength.

But despite this there are still many cases of affiliates receiving unfair returns for the traffic they generate – and being kept in the dark by operators.

We spoke with Sergei Belikov, CEO of Mobinc Group, to hear his thoughts on the dynamics of the affiliate-to-operator relationship. We asked Sergei how the balance can be improved going forward and, most importantly, how affiliates can extract maximum value for the traffic they produce.

Do you think affiliates are getting maximum value for the traffic they generate? 

“Affiliates play a crucial role in driving traffic to online casinos. Some of our clients are receiving more than 50 percent of their online visitors from affiliates, and I think it’s quite common in the industry these days. We spoke to several affiliates and the common opinion is that they don’t get maximum value for the traffic they generate. The main reason is the lack of transparency with the casino operators; there’s also a big concern that the conversion rate is unpredictable.

“This makes affiliates believe that their high-quality traffic is not converted as much as it should be. And in cases where it is converted, it’s not retained to get the best possible value.

“I think the main reason is a lack of transparency by the operators and a lack of control from the affiliates side.”

Lack of transparency is a challenge that continually aggravates the affiliate/operator relationship. Do you think this can ever truly be overcome, and, if so, how?

“I don’t think there’s anything that can change this while affiliates remain just affiliates. I think it’s an inherent conflict that drives the industry. But I’m sure there are ways to overcome transparency issues by starting to manage their traffic as an operator.

“I think it’s natural to start small as an affiliate, with less experience, less appetite, less transparency with operators, less control, and less responsibility. But then it should evolve as the relationship evolves, when it becomes obvious that an affiliate can get more from their traffic, when they start to see that it’s natural to become casino operators themselves, controlling the traffic and their margins.

Sergei Belikov and Team

“We’ve seen affiliates growing into really successful operators, because they can be smart with acquisition costs;  while partnering with platforms that provide tools to operate a successful casino.  Eventually, this is the most effective way to get the best value for the traffic they generate and to have full transparency over what happens to their players once they are acquired.”

Many affiliates excell in marketing and generating traffic but not in compliance, player protection and other operational responsibilities. How can companies like Mobinc help them to overcome this and make the full transition?

“Since the 19th century the division of labour has driven all aspects of human development and I believe that the same applies to all industries including iGaming. Affiliates are generating traffic and we take care of the rest: Ensuring the compliant operation and sustainable growth of casino brands.

“They continue to lower the acquisition costs and find better ways to market and acquire players. We as their platform provider work closely with them to take care of their players, increasing the retention, optimising CRM.

“We know that compliance, player protection and retention, and other aspects of operating a successful business, are constantly evolving and changing. Mobinc is taking care of this because we have years of experience, knowledge and great team members who are helping our partners and customers.  We want our partners to focus on what they are already good at, which is player marketing and let us take care of the rest.”

There are many different types of affiliates, they range from major corporations to solo projects being run from bedrooms. How does an affiliate know when it’s time to make the transition to becoming an operator? Is this route-to-market available for everyone?

“I think some projects should remain “bedroom” projects because it just works better and doesn’t require any transition. But when it’s time to move on, the affiliates will know. I think it’s when they clearly see that their profits are capped. It is also when they see that, despite their efforts, there’s no substantial asset under their control such as a player base.

“The glass ceiling situation is the main driving issue. Still, we also have seen cases where affiliates would remain as affiliates and would run casino operation as a side project, too.

“They are different cases, but we’ve seen that this route-to-market is available to absolutely everyone, especially when working with professional providers who will take care of successful transition and setting up new casinos based on the best industry practices.”

Editor’s Note:

After speaking with Sergei, it’s exciting to witness the evolutionary journey that affiliates are taking within the iGaming market. 

It’s no secret that the affiliate-to-operator relationship can be fraught at times, mainly due to a lack of transparency.

Sergei clearly believes that NOW is the time for affiliates, who are serious about growth, to take the leap and gain full control of their traffic through becoming an operator.

This, of course, may be an intimidating concept of transition for some affiliates but with companies like Mobinc present in the market, this process has been made a lot easier. 

We’re looking forward to seeing more affiliates scaling-up in the industry and excited to see how this will change the iGaming landscape going forward.

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