Operating within the increasingly stringent UK framework means that only the most reputable and robust brands will be able to see true success in the market. This will have a direct impact on affiliates and the amount of choice they’re able to offer customers, plus the added complexity of traditional retail customers moving online means even more adapting if the content on offer.
We spoke with Joonas Karhu, CEO of leading UK affiliate, Bojoko to hear his perspective on the new dawn of the affiliate sector and how sustainable growth can be secured for the future.
Bojoko is dedicated to partnering with reputable, UK licensed operators only. As regulation gets tighter and more operators are forced out of the UK market, what impact could that potentially have on the amount of choice you’re able to offer your customers?
“I believe that competition in a free market allows consumers to have a wide variety of choice as well as to get the most value for their money.
“The CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, was asked in a Senate hearing last year what he thought about regulation. Zuckerberg’s answer was along the lines of that with Facebook being a big corporation, it could afford to implement all regulation. But regulation would stifle competition and innovation, and create barriers to entry for smaller companies.
“Your question is extremely timely and relevant for the gambling industry in the UK. We have seen the range of choice decrease with consolidation as well as with smaller companies exiting the market. And we have seen bonus options and value for money for the consumer radically weaken.
“For Bojoko, operators leaving the UK market negatively impacts the choice we are able to offer our members but that being said we still have hundreds of UK-licensed casino brands available and are adding new sites all of the time.”
The shutdown of many land-based casinos has forced a significant amount of retail players to seek the online alternative. Will catering for this new player profile impact the way you work or the type of content you publish in the future?
“In general, the player profiles between land-based and online are similar in the same way that the buyers of Honda and Ford are similar – it depends on what is available for the consumer and what advertising has built mental availability in the buying situation.
“The majority of UK adults participated in some form of gambling last year, based on a survey by Statista.
“Despite the shift from land-based to online play – mostly as a result of the pandemic and the closure of retail betting venues – the marketing strategies being used by operators and indeed affiliates should not have changed.
“To engage players and make them aware of your brand, you need to undertake broadscale advertising and you need to make it easy for consumers to buy from you. This means, for example, having all payment options and amounts available and having a variety of attractive bonus offers.
“So no, the shift from retail to online will not change the content we create for our members or the tools and buying options we provide them with.”
The critically important role that affiliates play in the iGaming market is becoming increasingly apparent but is this being accurately reflected in the operator affiliate partnership deals? Is B2B advertising towards affiliates sometimes misleading? How can this be improved in the future?
“The vast majority of partnerships we have with operators are positive. The communication is transparent, direct and supportive. When it comes to messaging, and perhaps regulation, in operators’ affiliate programs there are some improvements that I hope we will see one day soon.
“The most predatory clause that every operator is allowed to have in its terms and conditions is that it can – at any time – one-sidedly terminate the partnership with the affiliate and keep all the players that the affiliate has sent to them.
“In my view, this clause is illegal in many ways, especially as it can put an affiliate out of business literally overnight with those working for the affiliate business in question likely to lose their jobs. This is simply unacceptable.”
As Joonas mentioned, there has been an undeniable reduction in choice for the UK consumer, but the good news is that there still is a large range of operators to choose from. Contrary to popular belief, Joonas doesn’t believe the market approach to content needs to change much to accommodate for the new land-based players who have come online, but rather a blanket approach that is still effective and makes it easier for more players to get involved.
The next step for the successful future of the affiliate sector lies within legitimising the operator partnerships, ensuring that neither party is not left overexposed to risk. The sector is going through a great transformation and we’re looking forward to seeing it take shape.