Published: 14 October, 2020

Standing out

Tim Poole argues that online casino homogeneity offers affiliates the chance to differentiate more than ever during this year’s digital traffic boom

Japanese author Shūsaku Endō once said “every weakness contains within itself a strength”. The principle here applies pretty universally. At job interviews, a classic candidate approach is to answer a question about weaknesses with phrases like “I’m too hard-working” or “if you think about it my biggest weakness is my greatest strength!” Athletes and sports teams can turn their weakest areas into a positive by enhancing other aspects of their game, while companies with a weaker product can compensate through practices like marketing or even M&A.
More specific to gaming, the current global climate is rife with opportunity for affiliates in the realm of online casino – particularly due to one of the sector’s most striking criticisms, or weaknesses. For years now, while online casino has continued to generate growing revenue, little has truly separated the different products within the industry (a criticism also aimed at the sports betting sector)..
Yes, slot games will have different themes, graphics and slight variations in prizes, but the principles of the games themselves will always remain the same. Innovation at the core of online gaming remains limited, as companies know what a customer wants. So why risk venturing too far out in the way of differentiation? For live casino, roulette, blackjack and poker, the same principle exists by way of necessity. You can change the dealer, the suit of cards, the colour of the table, but at their heart, these games will also remain the same. Twenty-one would no longer work, nor would it attract a new audience, if it was suddenly called twenty two..
While this doesn’t necessarily hurt online casino operators – as discussed, revenue continues to boom – critics point to a homogeneity between casino products as an industry weakness. And when it comes to marketing your product, not really being able to have any unique features to work with definitely brings its disadvantages. But as our Endō hinted earlier, this weakness provides the perfect chance for affiliates to forge one of their biggest strengths..
With so many new customers looking to gamble online this year – but with such homogeneity across the sector – it’s the perfect opportunity for affiliates to stand out to new players. Gamblers new to online casino will be looking for introductions and education. They’ll have time on their hands and will be looking for the perfect site to spend their entertainment budget on. But how will they be able to tell one online casino from another?.
This is where affiliate content comes in. While online casinos (no matter how successful they may be collectively) struggle to stand apart from one another, affiliates can stand apart with how they choose to frame their content – and it’s a real opportunity to drive revenue and shape the market. In the September 2019 edition of Trafficology, we spoke of the importance of honest casino reviews and not misleading the player..
Given how the industry climate has changed over the past year – and how the emphasis on online has grown – the benefits of connecting with players is greater than ever. When you’re setting out content schedules and delivering briefs, don’t just settle for average casino content. If so many casino brands offer so many similar products, why not stand out with your affiliate product?.
In that September edition, Shane Anderson, Better Collective senior director, content & brand, said: “The affiliate industry has evolved to become an integral step in a punter’s betting experience. This has been achievable thanks to one key factor: affiliates are on the punters’ side. Affiliates have the advantage that we can remain honest and transparent across our operator partners, making sure the users of our platforms are completely aware of what they are engaging with when placing a bet with an operator.”
Now more than ever, that opportunity to engage with players and create a new following is there in abundance. Online casino is a bull market right now, with Catena Media, Betsson Group, Evolution Gaming and many other online firms posting record quarterly results. Yet, for all the sector’s success, the problem of homogeneity still remains, giving affiliates the advantage to be bolder with their content. “It’s always better for affiliates to give an honest review of operators,” Anderson added in last year’s Trafficology.
"WHEN YOU’RE SETTING OUT CONTENT SCHEDULES AND DELIVERING BRIEFS, DON’T JUST SETTLE FOR AVERAGE CASINO CONTENT. IF SO MANY CASINO BRANDS OFFER SO MANY SIMILAR PRODUCTS, WHY NOT STAND OUT WITH YOUR AFFILIATE PRODUCT?“ For one, it’s a crucial component of building and maintaining trust with the users of our affiliate platforms. Of course, some operators may not like criticism that comes along with this honesty – but the benefit of this is it helps keep our partners motivated to improve their products. In the end, we want to give the best experience possible to our collective end users; any dishonesty can have negative consequences.”
Being honest is not the only component to standing out content-wise. The need for player education is greater than ever with so many gaming newcomers – especially in the burgeoning US online market. For sports wagering, a common affiliate strategy is to produce how-to-bet guides on different sports, and it’s a tried-and-tested method. For online casino, there’s nothing stopping affiliates from going a step further to teach players about the various strategies, risks and benefits involved.
Instead of rating certain operators 9.9 and others 9.8 out of 10, affiliates can truly paint the full picture for their players. That doesn’t mean completely lambasting a partner of yours but rather empowering players to make decisions that will enhance their betting experience. With so many players looking for new ways to game, an affiliate that grabs their attention can become an even more valuable resource than usual, building loyalty to that affiliate in the long term. So while the competition in the online casino market is intense, more power may lie with affiliates right now than at any other period in online gaming’s modern history. If homogenous content is the online casino sector’s weakness, let that become the affiliate sector’s biggest strength. Be creative with your content; don’t just reproduce what’s already been done a thousand times. Be original, be different and you, as an affiliate, can claim far more of the new traffic that’s searching for online casinos.