Published: 22 October, 2021

The other side of the coin

Representatives from Catena Media and Spotlight Sports Groupanswer questions on the operator-affiliate relationship.

Ryan Harper, Vice President of North America – Revenue, Catena Media
What makes the ideal operator for an affiliate to work with?
There isn’t a single attribute that makes for a good partnership. But there is a collection of values that really helps our partnerships thrive. Obviously from our perspective, we want operators who place affiliates as a core acquisition channel. If operators are as vested in what we can do for their business as we are to their success, the relationship tends to thrive. Beyond that, quality tracking, including mobile, desktop, bonus/promo codes and timely reporting helps build the partnership. And ideally the operator will build a strong brand and use competitive promotional offers to attract business.

Where can affiliates do more to help the operator-affiliate relationship?
We believe an open line of communication with our partners is essential. Truly, I can’t overstate how important communication is to our business. And it must be a two-way street. From our perspective, that means we need to always be responsive to any feedbackwe get from operators and remain transparent with everything we do. If an operator identifies an area that we can expand on or improve upon, we always want to know. The partnership must be mutually beneficial for it to succeed over the long term.

What would you want more of from operators when working with them?
Communication is the key to any good relationship, but it is particularly vital in a business like ours. The timely reporting of data, ideally in real time, is the absolute lifeblood of what we do. This helps us to read and react more quickly, which in turn helps us to fully capitalise on any effort. Without exception, our strongest partnerships understand the value of prioritising communication.

Do you have any standout examples of good current partnerships? What do these partners do well?
We have an excellent relationship with all our partners, but we have enormous respect for the professionalism of DraftKings and BetMGM. When you asked earlier about what makes for an ideal partner, both operators instantly popped into my mind. We meet weekly with both partners, and the frank, two-way communication we share with them has reallyhelped maximise the value of the relationship for both sides. We feel incredibly fortunate to have built such a strong foundation with both.

Harry von Behr, Managing Director, Spotlight Sports Group

What makes the ideal operator for an affiliate to work with?

We view all our relationships with operators as partnerships. We have long-standing agreements with all major bookmakers in the UK with Racing Post, MyRacing and FreeSuperTips and new partnerships with huge growth potential in the US via Pickswise. What makes the difference for us is the partnership aspect; we don’t see ourselves as just a supplier but we want to work together to maximise that affiliate relationship.

Where can affiliates do more to help the operator-affiliate relationship?

First and foremost it’s incredibly important that all affiliates ensure they are behaving responsibly in terms of player protection. We’re proud to be one of the founding members of RAIG (Responsible Affiliates in Gambling) where my colleague Cian Nugent was recently appointed to lead as new Chair. The independent body was set up to help raise affiliate standards, particularly in respect of responsible gambling. It’s a huge part of what makes up our approach; we ensure that everything we do protects our customers and is done in a responsible manner.

Secondly, on a more functional level, it’s important affiliates understand operators'requirements. A lot of time is focused on player acquisition and while this is vitally important, from our experience, affiliates in Europe and the US can play a huge role in the engagement and retention of customers. So, having that conversation and really understanding where the operator needs support is of huge importance.

What would you want more of from operators when working with them?

The reverse really. We speak to our partners on a daily basis but for us to be able to go above and beyond we need to know exactly what their strategy is, particularly around major events. Affiliates can play a role in every stage of the player journey and we know at Spotlight Sports Group our content is what drives players to return to our suite of brands; it’s what sets us apart. That open dialogue with operators enables us to produce strategies to help them acquire, engage and retain customers throughout the year that focus on the biggest sporting events.

Do you have any standout examples of good current partnerships? What in particular do these partners do well?

Yes, right across our group there are various examples. Our most well-known brand, Racing Post, is one of the longest-standing affiliates in the industry. We now have seven major bookmakers integrated into our app and this showcases our joint product development efforts. We know to get the best customer experience for our B2C audience it’s vital that the integrations with bookmakers are smooth. It’s also important our customers enjoy betting through our app to get the best possible outcome for operators. In the US we’ve worked closely with our partners on new content approaches. In March, after consulting with FanDuel we produced a handicapping competition throughout March Madness to drive acquisition and engagement via Pickswise. It’s our willingness to innovate that means we can work on new ideas and really create content that resonates with players.