Are Affiliates the Lighthouse of our Industry? With Simon Pilkington, CEO, KaFe Rocks

As the shift to online gambling picks up pace, the opportunity to increase iGaming traffic has increased significantly, but similarly, so has the pressure to operate responsibly! Finding the delicate balance between maximising player acquisition and protection is a continual challenge for our industry, still yet to be perfected.

Simon Pilkington, CEO of leading iGaming affiliate, KaFe Rocks, spoke with iGamingFuture to share his perspective on the current online marketing landscape. Helping us to understand how he believes we, as an industry, can continue to grow sustainably and moreover, the role affiliates will play in this.

With an increased focus on responsible gambling in the current market, it’s becoming clearer that operators and affiliates need to work together to ensure they are being socially responsible with communications and that doing so is beneficial for both the business and the industry. What can affiliates do to ensure this attitude is woven into best practice?

“Ultimately, this isn’t a new practice and any affiliate that’s been present in the UK market will understand the increase in focus on responsible gambling and player protection. Whilst I wouldn’t want to speak for others on the subject, at the end of the day, a big part of it comes down to a choice of what you want to be as a business – what do you actually stand for?

“At KaFe Rocks, we have clear Core Values and a company mission, and we look to hire new Rocketeers who buy into this or can clearly demonstrate that they add value here.

“Our mission is to be THE lighthouse for the iGaming industry – ultimately shining a light and offering a transparent view on operators so that our users can make informed decisions. Whilst one of our Core Values is that we are ‘For the User’ – we’ve made conscious decisions and efforts to make sure that our users are always at the forefront of everything we create and produce.

“With the above points in mind, responsible gambling and player protection measures fall naturally into this and is something that our company is aware we play a part in.

“We also pride ourselves on the relationships and true partnerships that we have built with operators over the course of many years. Compliance to responsible gambling measures is a huge part of this, and despite being an affiliate with sites in multiple territories, we make sure we do everything we can in line with operators needs and regulatory bodies requirements.

Affiliates should speak to their partners, should educate themselves on responsible gambling in the markets they’re present in, and should act in the interests of their users.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has of course pushed a lot more traffic online. With an increased focus on digital offerings throughout the industry, will this mean the affiliate role in the industry will become even more important going forward?

“I’m not sure that it makes the affiliate role ‘more’ important, as there are numerous digitally related channels that operators will focus on. However, I think it underlines the general importance of affiliates as a marketing channel, and that when strong partnerships are built and maintained over time, then it can continue to be a mutually beneficial format.

“Having strong affiliate partners that an operator can rely on for a steady stream of quality players is always invaluable regardless of any external circumstances such as the pandemic.

“Many affiliates out there will have been in a position to adapt to the circumstances well, pivot where necessary, and are maybe a little more agile in that manner when compared to some operators. This would have resulted in the affiliate channel providing as much continuity as possible to the service they’re providing.”

As the role of affiliates becomes even more critical while the industry continues to mature, what can affiliates do to take the next step in becoming more corporate entities?

“The affiliate part of the iGaming industry has come a long way, much like the industry itself. At the top of the market, there are some huge public companies with networks of sites, and yet you still find some great individually owned assets or small networks that deliver in their niches really well.

“Ultimately, this side of the industry has become more professional over the years, as owners and managers alike have understood how valuable creating great products and building great relationships can be in this industry.

“In terms of becoming a more corporate entity, that’s really a question for each affiliate business to answer for themselves based on their expertise, and their capacity to grow, innovate, and push the boundaries.

“If you’re already delivering results, continue to focus on those partner relationships and focus on what you’re good at.

Niche sectors like esports have seen a massive rise in the last few months. Is this the direction the market will grow towards in the future or are the more mainstream products a better way of growing revenues long term?

“I can’t deny the rise of esports as an entertainment form and as a product vertical for affiliates to target and I’m sure we will see a continued push in this direction from some affiliates and it will open up the market to new affiliates too.

“However, revenue growth doesn’t just come from new product verticals, and with a more or less global market focused on the more mainstream products of sports betting and casino in particular, there are plenty of ways to diversify your portfolio with the aim of growing revenues further.”

Editor’s Note: After speaking with Simon, it’s easy to understand why the future growth of our industry cannot be solely based on new product verticals alone. The way in which content providers engage or interact with customers is a key part of adding true value to the player experience.

Affiliates have the potential to act as a lighthouse, a gaming safe haven almost, for the sea of online players in search of a safe place to bet. Ultimately, this side of the industry has become more professional over the years, as owners and managers alike have understood how valuable creating great products and building great relationships can be in this industry.

It’s exciting to see so much progress being made by key iGaming stakeholders and we look forward to seeing how it can further impact our market in a positive way.

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