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IN-DEPTH 2 August 2016
The top five digital marketing trends of 2016
Preferences are rapidly evolving, and so must affiliates says Natalie Merrison, Director of ActiveWins Affiliates
By Natalie Merrison

In 2016, digital marketing became more and less. The data analysed became larger and more focused. The precision of the reach of adverts and how they were designed are becoming tailored to the ideal demographic. But the devices affiliates should be focusing on are smaller in size, and the web design that players favour are simpler and less cluttered, whilst still being visually captivating. With that in mind, here are the top trends affiliates should be mindful of in 2016.


In early 2014, something happened in the United States which had long been predicted, but still caused ripples for businesses across the world, not least in marketing. This unprecedented incident was internet use on mobile overtaking PC for the first time in history. And this year especially, the focus for businesses had been on optimising mobile.

The creation of mobile-friendly websites for players needs to be a priority for affiliates if they want to convert more traffic. The ability to deposit quickly and easily is another massive consideration. Now that the mass hysteria of ‘mobilegeddon’ and ad blocking have been proven as overly-hyped, it is safe to promote ad banners optimised for mobile.


Partly due to the simple, clean aesthetic needed to make mobile sites work, and partly due to a move away from the cluttered and garish affiliate sites of the past (you know the ones), forward-thinking affiliates everywhere are choosing clear text and simple, striking visuals over complexity.

White was the predominant colour of many of the sleekest and stylish affiliate web pages. Banner adverts and emails that adopt a reader-friendly visual style are sure to see higher conversion than their overtly busy, flashy counterparts.


With SEO-friendly copy and Google page ranking still a big focus for affiliate sites, it’s imperative to consider what is going on your page and how frequently you are updating new content. Gone are the days of filling sites with immense amounts of content, regardless of how relevant it is to your target audience. It’s far more important for copy and content to be engaging, fresh and relevant.

User-generated content is becoming increasingly popular. It’s cost-efficient, generally considered to be unbiased, and encourages players to build an affinity and bond with your site.


Many advertisers are turning to this most popular form of “native advertising” to get their brand publicised in a way which connects that advertisement with the type of entertainment that person is looking for. Sponsored posts also allow companies to show a different face to their usual brand identity, and can tailor this to fit with the site that the post appears on.

Buzzfeed have been one of the most high-profile pioneers of this trend, with their reputation for lighthearted fun. Crisps-giant Walkers, pharmaceutical company Novartis and Transport for London have all had “promoted” posts on Buzzfeed in the past few months. Aside from Buzzfeed, promoted tweets and posts on social media have been a popular route for companies in 2015. But marketing on social platforms has gone far beyond just promoted tweets…


A survey from showed that over 70% of marketers believed Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to be essential for advertising. And it’s easy to understand why. These platforms offer targeted banner advertising, the aforementioned promoted posts, and are a way to quickly reach potentially vast numbers of people interested in your brand (“likers” and “followers”) without the expense of traditional methods like TV adverts.

The traditional powers of social are being challenged by new social networks. Tsu, for example, offers revenue sharing on popular posts, meaning that creating something which goes viral could be more rewarding than ever before.

Natalie Merrison’s affiliate marketing career began at Betfred, where she successfully increased online acquisition for the brand. ActiveWin MD Warren Jacobs recruited her as director of the ActiveWins and Nektan affiliate programs. ActiveWins and Nektan now promote eight brands with 15 account managers working with top affiliate sites globally
IN-DEPTH 4 September 2019
Virtual reality: Creating next-gen experiences for players

Singular CEO George Shamugia discusses a new revenue stream for casino operators

The competition in online gaming is intensifying, with players becoming more and more demanding. In some markets, single-customer acquisition costs can reach up to €400 ($440) alongside growing churn rates. Furthermore, the online gaming sector struggles to attract one of the most lucrative groups of players – millennials. The experience provided by casinos no longer appeals to the younger generation.

On  the other hand, the video gaming industry perfectly understands the needs of millennials and by introducing elements of luck in their games offers the best of both worlds. With the launch of loot box systems and Grand Theft Auto’s in-game casino, we have seen their first successful steps in targeting the online gaming sector. GTA V online, with 33 million active players, recently opened an in-game casino, where players gamble real money on games such as poker, roulette, slots, etc. As a result, churn users returned and GTA Online reached the highest number of active players since its launch in 2013.

The online gaming industry has almost fully utilised the potential of the mobile medium. The time has come to look for new, innovative ways of delivering a next-gen experience to customers.

The potential of VR

Could the next big thing for online gaming be a fully fledged virtual reality (VR) casino delivering an immersive experience and limitless new opportunities?

Although not widely adopted yet, VR has a sizable number of customers. Analysts predict it’s poised for explosive growth to become mainstream in about five years. According to market intelligence firms, the VR market will be worth $117bn by 2022, and according to Juniper Research bets made through VR will reach $520 billion by 2021. Upcoming 5G mobile network technology will propel VR’s mass adoption by allowing the development of fully portable untethered and affordable VR headsets.

Different level of social interaction

The captivating nature of gambling comes from its social aspect. Unfortunately, personal interaction is widely missing from online gambling sites. VR technology creates multiple opportunities to bring back and even enhance that social moment. The ability to connect with other players is one of the main reasons behind Fortnite’s popularity. This form of co-experience is the next generation of entertainment. Research conducted by Facebook has found participants spend more time on VR compared to any other medium. This directly translates into increased profits for casinos.

Pokerstars has made efforts in this direction by implementing Voice UI. Instead of using hand controllers to make a call, pass, or raise, players give voice commands.

Another opportunity for bringing in the social element are the players’ avatars. They enable players to build their identity reflected in the avatars’ appearance, but also the avatar's social, competitive and community status. For instance, players are willing to pay real money for virtual drinks at the bar. Operators can offer these social touchpoints for free to VIP customers as an act of appreciation.

VR also brings a new dimension to customer support. Customer support can also be represented with avatars to assist the player in person. The social moment increases the LTV of players and contributes towards lower churn rates.

Rethinking game design

VR is a way more capable medium than a 2D mobile or desktop screen. Instead of copying the existing online experience, games must be redesigned from the ground up for a competitive advantage with VR. For example, a VR slot game can become fully immersive by teleporting the user into the slots’ world of Ancient Egypt. Next, enrich the experience with high-fidelity graphics, realistic spatial sounds and animations. When betting on virtual race cars, the user can be teleported inside the car he/she made a bet on and experience the race firsthand.

New revenue streams

VR casino lobbies create new revenue stream opportunities: ad placement of brands on the venue walls, company logos decorating the bar etc. This kind of branding is not intrusive in the VR space and feels natural from the user's perspective. VR also gives users the ability to change venues from a Las Vegas casino today, to Macau or even Mars casino, the very next day. The dynamic and diverse experience increases retention rates.

The majority of profits for online gaming operators come from their high-roller players. Although they represent a small subset of active players, an operator can launch a separate VR casino brand for them. Providing exclusive VR gaming experiences to high rollers/VIPs, the operator can minimise churn and maximise VR efforts for these player demographics.

The catch with VR is to focus on quality, rather than scale. The target audience might be limited yet, once these players experience it, they will become ambassadors for your offering.

Surely, the opportunities and possibilities offered by the VR medium truly exceed anything offered by mobile and desktop. VR is a new frontier not just for gaming but for every industry, and it’s exciting to see where it takes the industry and what kind of innovation it brings upon us.