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  1. #1
    GPWA Aaron is offline Former Staff Member
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    Default Affiliate Interview Series: Jem - Muppet

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    Age: 36
    Hometown: Sydney
    Living in: Sydney
    Favorite Food: Thai
    Must Read Book: The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb
    Site: casinolistings.com

    How did you become involved in the industry?
    I used to work on comfortable, well-paid and completely boring and pointless corporate IT projects. A friend of mine was having some early success as a gambling affiliate and kept telling me about it. In the end my dislike of corporate bureaucracy and the desire to see my newborn daughter more won me over to working from home.

    When did you launch your site?
    I acquired the domain in July 2007 after someone had let it expire, so the site would have launched a little while after that.

    How long did it take for you to start earning money?
    A couple of months. In fact we earned a whole 10 cents in September 2007!

    To what do you attribute the notable success of your site relative to sites offering similar content?
    I couldn’t say that there is one single thing – it’s the whole package. I work by a “no BS” motto. So we try really hard to look at things from the perspective of a player and focus on getting people to stick around, explore the site and come back for more later, as opposed to shuttling them off to a casino as quickly as possible. We ask ourselves questions like what information does a player find useful? Does the site look professional and feel trustworthy? Would I revisit a site that sent me to an ordinary casino after telling me that it was wonderful? We try to present factual and authoritative information and we aren’t afraid to call out a bad casino. Where we do offer something similar to other sites, we strive to do it better.

    One of the longest running and most successful threads in your forum is a thread where people post screenshots of their big wins. How important is it, from an affiliate perspective, to get players excited about their wins?
    I don’t think we need to get players excited about winning. Everyone is already excited when they win! It’s more about people sharing their wins and excitement with their friends. It’s great for players to see others winning, especially if it’s someone they have talked to on the forum who has hit a jackpot or something. From an affiliate perspective it can help show others that yes you can win at an online casino and you’ll be paid.

    Your forums are also full of posts about how you have helped players receive payment from casinos. How much time do you spend helping players resolve cashout issues? How important is that role for affiliates, as someone who can communicate to both players and the online casinos?
    I spend quite a few hours each week on this sort of thing. I really wish I didn’t have to but the nature of the industry at the moment dictates it, especially for players in the USA who are often dealing with either shady operators or honest ones that still have trouble paying them. The frustrating thing is that the majority of complaints are made by players who are playing at a casino that we have either blacklisted or rated poorly. If only I had a dollar for every person who has told us, “I wish I had read the review first. . . .”

    Helping players by cutting out the first tier of support and going straight to someone who can actually solve the problem is a key role that you can perform as an affiliate to help justify the value of your site. It is a great way to build a loyal following of players and also keeps you up to date with who is paying and who is delaying.

    What traits do you look for in an affiliate manager? How about in an affiliate program?
    We deal with hundreds of affiliate managers and I am sure that many of them would attest that I don’t give them anywhere near the time of day that they are after. I value the managers who respond quickly to any requests or questions but otherwise leave you to your own devices. The same goes for affiliate programs, really – the best are the ones that pay automatically each month without making us chase them, and keep their players happy and loyal.

    What advice would you offer someone just starting out in the industry?
    Be patient. This industry has low barriers to entry and as a result it is ultracompetitive and it is not the “easy” way to make money that it was in years gone by. On the other hand, the vast majority of affiliate sites exist merely to intercept and tag themselves on a visitor’s journey between a search engine and a casino, and offer nothing of real value. So there is a lot of opportunity for someone prepared to build something unique and useful for players. Pick something you love and start off in that niche, then go from there. It’s easy to spot the sites created by passionate people who love what they are doing and know what they are talking about. Those are the ones that will stand out and prosper in the long run. Learn about SEO but build your site for people, not search engines.

    What prompted you to join the GPWA? How has it helped you?
    The ability to talk to, listen to and learn from others in the industry with more experience was the main attraction of the GPWA. It has helped us avoid dodgy affiliate programs, learn countless things about how the industry operates, and enabled us to get in contact with otherwise unreachable affiliate managers.

    A few years back you made a nice gesture: you offered fellow GPWA webmasters a very well put-together Casino Tournaments listing script on an “almost-totally-free” basis. What prompted you to do this?
    It was actually a bit of an experiment for us. I had identified that casino tournaments were a virtually untouched niche at the time. So we thought that offering a tournaments listing would be a good way of developing the niche while at the same time hopefully positioning ourselves as an authority on casino tournaments. Webmasters are still using it and adding it to their sites to this day, so I think it has been a success.

    What do you like about the industry?
    I like the variety, innovation and fun offered by the casinos and game developers. I like the constant change, which keeps you on your toes, and the opportunity to meet and interact with people from all over the world. On a personal level I enjoy being able to work from home, see my kids and go out and do something in the middle of the day instead of being stuck in an office.

    What don’t you like about the industry?
    Loads. Where to start? The lack of regulation and protection for many players, especially in the USA; the belligerent attitude of governments in overreaching their jurisdictions and seizing domains, for example; the dodgy casinos that rip off players; the fact that most “lifetime” contracts with affiliate programs aren’t worth the paper they are written on; and the amount of spam that I receive as both a player and affiliate.

    Probably my biggest current dislike is the almost complete reliance on bonuses as a means of player acquisition. Most bonuses are now “fool’s gold” with ridiculous wagering requirements and T&Cs, and the casinos refuse to implement simple technological solutions to prevent players from violating those T&Cs. For example, every casino should be blocking disallowed games from being played after claiming a bonus. Sadly I can count the number that do so on one hand. We recently had a player who won over $30,000 on a slots jackpot at his first online casino, but because he naively played a couple of hands of a disallowed game after winning the jackpot he got nothing (the casino is on our blacklist, mind you, so it’s not that surprising). Not only does it make my blood boil, but it turns new players off from playing online and reflects badly upon the whole industry.

    What surprised you most about the industry?
    The fact that all campaign tracking, data and revenue are totally dependent on your trust in the affiliate program to do the right thing. That is unheard of in other online industries that I have experienced.

    You posted in the forums last year that although you think bet365 has a great site, especially from the player’s point of view, you were dissatisfied with the wording of bet365’s negative carryover policy. Have you since been able to “come to terms” with bet365 regarding this issue?
    No. I don’t have a problem with negative carryover per se. The problem arose because their policy is to only wire commissions once they exceed a certain amount. We had a little under that amount and then had a winner one month, resulting in a negative for the month. So they subtracted the negative from our previous unpaid earnings. We did not think this was the right thing to do considering their policy was preventing us from withdrawing it earlier. They refused to change anything so we just had to suck it up and wait until we earned more to withdraw it. We think they are a great place for players and have no problem recommending them, but their affiliate managers didn’t exactly endear themselves to us after that episode. Sometimes that happens – i.e., you get a great casino with an ordinary affiliate program. In such cases we err on the side of the player.

    How long do you give yourself for answering e-mail? What e-mail tips can you offer?
    I am terrible at this and the only tip I can give is don’t be like me (currently 221 unread e-mails in my inbox).

    How do you manage your “to-do” lists? Do you use any special software to help you out?
    I set reminders on my phone and use a program on the computer called Together. http://reinventedsoftware.com/together/

    How much time does it take to keep your site updated?
    In man hours it is a full-time job for a couple of people but we spread that workload around among three or four people with only myself working on it full time. There are daily news articles to write, and if we are not performing new reviews or updating old ones, we are developing or adding new features, chatting with the members in the forums or doing various other administrative tasks.

    How much time do you devote to SEO and/or social networking in order to drive more traffic to your site?
    We have a dedicated social networking guy who updates Facebook and interacts with people there on a daily basis. I’m the first to admit that I’m a bit old school and don’t use social networks at all. I don’t have a personal Facebook, Twitter or G+ account and if I did I would probably spend all my time talking crap with people and getting nothing done. At the moment it’s not a big traffic driver; it’s more a value-add for our members and a way to interact with them on their terms, but we are slowly growing our social presence.

    We are at the stage where we don’t really devote much time at all to SEO. Our CMS handles the technical side of it in terms of on-site factors and we know that the way the site is structured follows best practice. The focus for us is more on creating an interesting and unique experience for our visitors that keeps them coming back for more. We’re really trying hard to build a long-lasting and self-sustaining community. I don’t want to be reliant on search engines (or social networks for that matter) for the majority of our traffic because in the long term search algorithms inevitably change, search engines merge and/or go out of business, evil competitors try to clone your site or destroy your rankings, Facebook could do a MySpace, etc.

    Last year you posted in a thread the idea that "Google PageRank matters" should be considered an SEO myth. There are a lot of affiliates who spend a great deal of time and money to improve their Google PageRank. Why do you think that PageRank doesn't matter? What should affiliates be spending their time and money on instead of focusing on PageRank?
    I think it probably matters as much as the thousands of other factors that Google considers when ranking a page in the search results – i.e., not much at all when looked at in isolation. If you’re spending loads on trying to inflate that one number, then you’re wasting money. Where you rank in the search results matters far more than one number like that because that is the ultimate combination of all those factors put together. I have seen PR0Sites dominating search results and I tire of so-called SEO companies e-mailing us in an attempt to sell links on their PR4 site that is full of barely intelligible machine-spun articles.

    Google and others are continually getting better at understanding the semantics and context of what is on your site’s pages. So the best thing you can do for long-term success is create unique, interesting and informative content for your visitors. Over time you will satisfy your readers and the search engines, too.

    Where do you weigh in on mobile gaming? Is it in fact growing exponentially? Will there be a place for affiliates in a brave new world where most betting is done via mobile device?
    I remain unconvinced. If I look at our site’s share of traffic on mobile devices it is basically an irrelevance and definitely not growing exponentially. But that could be a chicken and egg thing as our site is not optimized for mobile visitors at all. When I think of mobile gaming I disregard iPads or other tablets, which are, when you’re talking about casinos, for all intents and purposes equivalent to a PC these days. I see the major challenge as being how to create a high-quality experience on a mobile phone which has limited screen real estate and physical size. So far the mobile phone casino games that I have seen have not impressed me at all, either as a player or as an affiliate. I am sure they will improve over time, though. This is fairly typical of the online casino industry, which is slow to adopt new technologies.

    As far as affiliates are concerned, app stores are now the world’s biggest affiliate sites and effectively diminish the value of other affiliate sites like ours. They command huge traffic and in some ways I would find it hard to argue with a casino that didn’t pursue traditional affiliates and instead concentrated on app store sales. I have yet to see a satisfactory tracking method that for example allows an affiliate site to recommend an app that is downloaded through an app store yet still tracks the player to the affiliate that sent them there in the first place. You will inevitably lose referrals if you ask players to manually enter codes for example. Obviously these aren’t insurmountable problems but I’m seeing little evidence of anyone trying to solve them.

    If someone were visiting you, what’s the one place you’d definitely take them to see?
    I would take them to a good but quieter beach, maybe Whale Beach or somewhere down south like Wanda. Then wind up afterwards with a few drinks in a pub in Balmain. It’s more my style than the tourist traps like Bondi Beach.

    What’s your favorite vacation spot?
    For relaxation the Maldives is paradise. For fun I’d probably pick Tokyo as the city is simply amazing.

    If you could have one “superpower,” what would it be?
    I’d like to be able to instantly teleport anywhere I wanted to go, for numerous reasons.

    What’s your favorite TV show or shows – any programs that you make it a point to see when they’re aired for the first time?
    My favorite two series would have to be The Wire and the recent Battlestar Galactica. Both shows were topical, gritty, intelligent and realistic in their own ways and they weren’t afraid to bump off key characters at the most unexpected times. I’m eager to watch the new series of Game of Thrones, too.

    What’s your all-time favorite movie?
    I was a typical boy into sci-fi and space stuff so I’d have to say something like Aliens or Blade Runner.

    If you were shooting your autobiography, whom would you cast to play you?
    I’ve been asked this before and I never have an answer. I don’t know. Maybe Johnny Depp because he’s an excellent actor who can make anyone appear interesting.

    If you could invite any five people, living or dead, to dinner, who would they be?
    My grandfathers. Both died before I was born and both had to fight in WWII so it would be interesting to meet them and hear what they went through. Bruce Lee to share a few kung fu pointers with me. Pele – I am sure we could talk football all night. Philip K. Dick to tell us some trippy after-dinner stories.

    What are three things that nobody knows about you?
    I have broken my left arm twice in the same spot in the last three months. I am getting close to going for my black belt in kung fu (whenever my arm heals properly!). I used to get paid a little to play football (soccer) semiprofessionally when I was younger.

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    cass (11 June 2015), dfiocch (13 June 2015), Excel.Shruthi (10 September 2015), Maria Florides1 (15 June 2015), MrBinaryAff (15 June 2015), Planet Mark (12 June 2015), Renee (10 October 2012)

  3. #2
    cass's Avatar
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    Frankly I'm quite surprised that there's been absolute no comments on 'Muppets' interview to date.

    It's a great read packed with some valuable snippets. Good on you mate.

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    dfiocch (13 June 2015), Muppet (11 June 2015)

  5. #3
    alin04 is offline Public Member
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    Muppet, you have a new member(me) on your forum. I like a lot your site, it s easy to navigate.

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  7. #4
    MMM
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    Great interview, Muppet. Thank you.

    Quote Originally Posted by GPWA Aaron View Post

    If you could have one “superpower,” what would it be?
    I’d like to be able to instantly teleport anywhere I wanted to go, for numerous reasons.
    That's one important superpower for an Aussie
    Best casinos to play slot machines online for real money. Reviews of best Real Money Casinos online.
    Check OnlineBlackjackExplorer for ratings of the best casinos to play blackjack online. Which games offer the lowest house edge, as well as free blackjack games, live dealer and mobile blackjack sites.

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    cass's Avatar
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    ''What surprised you most about the industry?
    The fact that all campaign tracking, data and revenue are totally dependent on your trust in the affiliate program to do the right thing. That is unheard of in other online industries that I have experienced.
    ''

    I can't agree with this more. Over the years there's simply been too much discrepancies regarding the stats reports programs give us.
    Last edited by cass; 13 June 2015 at 10:28 am.

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    casinolistings.com

    One of the best gambling portals on the web.

    Respect, Muppet.
    You were one of best inspiring sources when I launched FeC.

    Respect!

  10. #7
    dfiocch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cass View Post
    Frankly I'm quite surprised that there's been absolute no comments on 'Muppets' interview to date.

    It's a great read packed with some valuable snippets. Good on you mate.
    It's true... I missed to post a comment but 2012 was a disastrous year for me (my person... especially my body LoL )

    I hope to have remedied. Thank's also to CASS for this "bump"
    Last edited by dfiocch; 13 June 2015 at 9:11 am.

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  12. #8
    casinogratis77 is offline Public Member
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    Great interview. http://www.casinolistings.com/ is like a Ferrari among affiliates. One of best websites - great job!
    Casino bonus blog: http://casinogratis77.com/

  13. #9
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    Great interview and equally good site.

  14. #10
    chris_rp is offline Public Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by cass View Post
    ''What surprised you most about the industry?
    The fact that all campaign tracking, data and revenue are totally dependent on your trust in the affiliate program to do the right thing. That is unheard of in other online industries that I have experienced.
    ''

    I can't agree with this more. Over the years there's simply been too much discrepancies regarding the stats reports programs give us.
    One thing that has surprised me is that every affiliate I've spoke to so far has told me the technology to exclude specific IP addreses (namely my own) from stats doesn't exist... I'm fairly certain it does?

  15. #11
    Muppet is offline Private Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by MMM View Post
    That's one important superpower for an Aussie
    Ha, yes it would make overseas trips a lot more bearable!

    Thanks for the kind words folks.

  16. #12
    Parth84 is offline Private Member
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    very impressive indeed. Many thanks Muppet for the same. You made some good quality tips.....

  17. #13
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    It's true... I missed to post a comment but 2012 was a disastrous year for me (my person... especially my body LoL )

    I hope to have remedied. Thank's also to CASS for this "bump"
    You're welcome.

  18. #14
    Maria Florides1 is offline Non-sponsor Affiliate Program
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    Great interview!

    How did you manage to break your arm twice in the same spot in such a short period? I hope you recover soon and your injury heals well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maria Florides View Post
    Great interview!

    How did you manage to break your arm twice in the same spot in such a short period? I hope you recover soon and your injury heals well.
    I think it happened during one of his kung fu exercises. Hope your arm healed properly and did you manage to get your black belt?
    Last edited by cass; 15 June 2015 at 5:52 am.

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    Maria Florides1 is offline Non-sponsor Affiliate Program
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    Quote Originally Posted by cass View Post
    I think it happened during one of his kung fu exercises. Hope your arm healed properly and did you manage to get your black belt?
    Black belt! That is a big achievement. My some worked hard for 7 years to get his Shotokan karate back belt, thank god he got it without with any injuries.

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    Muppet is offline Private Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by cass View Post
    I think it happened during one of his kung fu exercises. Hope your arm healed properly and did you manage to get your black belt?
    Actually no I broke it while playing soccer after being hit from behind in a heavy tackle and landing on it. Then I broke it again playing soccer without anyone touching me about 6 months later after it was supposedly all fixed. I've since had a third operation to have the metal plate removed as it was annoying me and causing me pain. It has been alright for almost 18 month now though... touch wood. I'm still working on getting the black belt. Due to the injury I have not done much sparring which is necessary if I am to pass the combat test.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Muppet View Post
    Actually no I broke it while playing soccer after being hit from behind in a heavy tackle and landing on it. Then I broke it again playing soccer without anyone touching me about 6 months later after it was supposedly all fixed. I've since had a third operation to have the metal plate removed as it was annoying me and causing me pain. It has been alright for almost 18 month now though... touch wood. I'm still working on getting the black belt. Due to the injury I have not done much sparring which is necessary if I am to pass the combat test.
    And I always thought that rugby was a physical game.

    Glad to hear it healed properly and good luck in getting your black belt.

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