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    GPWA Aaron is offline Former Staff Member
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    Default Affiliate Manager Interview Series | Chris Zelver - Prime Partners

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    You started your career working in customer support for Euro Partners before moving on to become an affiliate manager. What was it like working with players? And how does that compare to working with affiliates?
    When I worked in support, I had no experience whatsoever and I was working at the time with the American market. This was back in 2005. The responsibility was different because you would do a shift and you'd be done. I would work night shifts and weekends and it was almost always exciting. With affiliation, depending on the time of the year, it feels like your job is never over because the stats never stop and there's always something going on and you can always close a deal. There are a lot of nice things about being an account manager like being able to travel, working with people all over the world and doing creative things whereas working with players directly, in this case in poker, gives you a glimpse of what the player experience is and it taught me how to think quickly on my feet and learn the different promotions and deposit methods. It also gave me a good basis for the marketing involved in the business as a whole.

    When did you join the Prime Gaming team? And what attracted you to the company and the position?
    I started working at Prime Gaming in September 2013, and the thing that attracted me to the company is that unlike some really big companies, Prime Gaming is a relatively small group of very talented people who are working to build this company the right way, being transparent all the way through, and it gave me a feeling of being able to contribute in a really positive way, teaching young junior account managers along the way and also being able to give my input on various promotions that otherwise wouldn't necessarily be heard.

    Prime Partners runs the affiliate programs for seven online properties, including Prime Scratchcards, Prime Slots and Mega Casino, among others. Are all these brands operated by the same ownership and management team?
    The brands that are being run at Prime are indeed all run by the same management team but the operators are different. So for example Prime Slots and Prime Scratchcards are operated by Neo Games and have Net Ent games on the sites, while Mega Casino and Mega Casino DK are operated by Skill On Net, so the rules on the internal marketing side tend to be different. We do tend to have a nice way of organizing each month and know very distinctly where to put our efforts based on a game plan, which makes it a bit more interesting.

    What should affiliates know about the online scratchcard market? Compared to Prime Slots, how many active players do you have at Prime Scratchcards? What are some of the key differences between scratchcard players and slots players?
    Scratchcards in general are a niche product appealing to a very specific demographic. In most cases the sites that do well with scratchcards are focused either just on that specific product or have a female demographic where scratchcards would be a good fit. The key difference between PrimeSlots.com and PrimeScratchcards.com is the association with the casino. Slots are games you see on every casino brand while scratchcards are not. What surprised me about scratchcards after starting to work at Prime Gaming is the quality of the players coming in via scratchcards.

    Several of your properties serve very targeted markets. Indogvind.dk, for example, targets Denmark, while Prime Fortune serves the Belgian market. Do you think country-by-country properties are the future of the industry? Or do you envision open competition across borders down the road?
    I do think there's a place for country-specific products but I still have hope that there are groups of countries out there that will not go in that direction. There are some countries like France, which used to be by far the biggest market in the industry and is now nonexistent. So while I am sure there's a place for all these brands like Prime Fortune, Indogvind and many others, I think many countries are still far from it and will hopefully encourage those who are not necessarily focusing just on one country to really put their full efforts to making it in an industry that has a lot of great benefits to it.

    One of the most important issues online casinos must address is problem gambling. What do the Prime Gaming casinos do to try to identify and help players with gambling problems?
    Looking at each and every one of our brands, you will see that we link to gambleaware.co.uk, which helps those who have a gambling problem to seek help. It’s important to me that every company I work with should let players have the ability to opt out of what they're doing if they need to, and that is totally covered in Prime Partners.

    It's one thing to bring in a new person to a site. It's another thing entirely to get them to stick around. What do your properties do to retain players sent by affiliates?
    I agree completely. I think the traditional style of maintaining players in the affiliate industry is definitely changing. It's not just technology but manpower that makes a big difference. A lot of factors contribute to conversion but I've grown to realize that my responsibility in working with affiliates doesn't end when the player deposits. I have to keep thinking of ways to get players to stick around because they honestly have so many other options. I think it's important to keep a close eye on the market, listen to affiliates, who I really believe know better than anyone what it takes, and of course the numbers don't lie. I think as well that being able to know the time zones of the players and give them the feeling of a localized product is a key to our success in markets such as Sweden, where we’ve really grown a lot.

    Prime Gaming offers affiliates revenue share of up to 50 percent and CPAs up to $400, "depending on various factors." What are those factors? And how can affiliates reach the top tiers of your commission rates? What are the starting commission levels?
    I think this is really a case-by-case scenario. I know how competitive the market can get and, as with any company, it's important to change with the times and identify differing factors that make up player value. I think the best affiliates I’ve worked with through the years have truly preferred revenue share, but it is actually a case-by-case scenario, and I also realize that some affiliates don't have as much money and time to gamble on and need every dollar they invest to be a win, at which point CPA would be a better fit. You take a market like Canada; one that has so many roadblocks is something I see as a challenge, but the loyalty of a player in Canada is really good, making it very interesting and creating more possibilities in terms of what we can pay. I also think the track record of an affiliate plays a big part. If we've worked with the affiliate in the past and know the traffic is good, then that plays a big part in what we decide regarding payment.

    Many programs are hesitant to offer CPA deals because they have been burned too many times by CPA fraud. How concerned are you about CPA fraud? And how do you ensure that affiliates are sending legitimate traffic to your properties?
    Well, I think that in the last few years I have seen a lot of fraud cases, and honestly the responsibility has to be on my shoulders to do the necessary checks with the help of a very experienced and sharp team of analysts. I think fraud cases will always be there but hopefully there will be ways to eliminate them– especially when affiliates know about them, but in cases where affiliates are unaware you have to go case by case and work with all involved to come to the fairest and best conclusion for the business to continue to survive.

    Describe the office culture at Prime Gaming. If there were a fly on the wall, what are some of the topics of conversation it would hear about at the water cooler?
    The environment in the office is always fun. Being the only North American in the office, I always like to throw in a bit of news from that side of the world. I talk about hockey and baseball while hearing about European football, especially now with the World Cup coming up. I think the fly would be really entertained because there are so many cultures and we have a blast every week discussing how things are in the countries we originate from. We put in a lot effort to keep the vibe really positive.

    How do you ensure that payments are sent out on time? And when do your payments go out?
    With regards to payments, this was something I really kept an eye out for from the get-go. I realize how crucial a factor payment is and although it is likely to improve, right now we do our payments ourselves for our affiliates and that allows us to pay out really early. I like to get the confirmation of the affiliate before sending out payment and if I know the amount is correct there really isn't that much wait time, which I think is great and a huge factor for affiliates. There are sometimes hiccups because people have holidays or whatever, but as I said that's likely to improve in the next three to six months.

    Where do you think the industry will be in five years?
    I really have no way of knowing what's going to be happening in five years, but I can tell you what I hope will happen. My hope is that this industry will become extremely stable and will be offering some of the best jobs out there, whether it's a chance to be an affiliate or affiliate manager, director or otherwise. It's a marketing job no matter how you look at it and that's my true passion, so I'd like that to remain the focus. But more than that, I'd like there to be a program in university that teaches you about affiliation. There will be more layers to this job than there are now just because of how the Internet is constantly evolving, and hopefully five years from now the regulation process will have been completed allowing the companies to really focus on what brought this industry to the level it got to in the first place – creativity; strong, smart people; and a very fun, young atmosphere in which companies can develop and innovate and become better each and every year.

    I also think social gaming will become a part of online gaming. They will merge, and companies like Facebook and Twitter will become a part of the revenue model that isn't really there today.

    If someone from out of town were to visit you, where is the one place you would have to take them?
    If someone from out of town were visiting, I'd probably bring them to the office first, to see the place, but as far as a tourist place goes, I'd bring them to the heart of Tel Aviv and let them enjoy the stores, the beach, the clubs and just the amazing atmosphere that you can't get anywhere else. There are some fantastic restaurants here that I'd recommend, so I'd definitely take them to one of those.

    What is the last book you read? Did you enjoy it? And did you read it on an e-reader? Or do you need to have a copy of the physical book in your hand?
    The last book I read – well, I would say most of what I read –I read on my laptop. I do like to get into a good book every summer because I go to the beach or to the pool and it's a good way to relax when the weather is really nice. There's a book I kept from my days at university called Internet Marketing that I still have. Generally, I love to read articles about whatever's going on in the world, learning about what's going on in Europe, in the U.S. and in Canada, so that keeps my mind going. Serious books that I’ve read have mostly been biographies of people I admire.

    What's your favorite movie?
    My favorite movie – I actually don't have one favorite, but I just finished watching The Usual Suspects and remembered how great it was. I am a bigger fan of sitcoms than I am of movies – a lot more to choose from – and I absolutely love Shark Tank.

    What do you use for most of your Web surfing: desktop computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone? All of the above except for desktop; I doubt too many people use their desktop anymore, and I probably do most of my surfing on my phone or laptop in most cases.

    If we picked up your iPod (or more likely, your iPhone) and pressed play, what song would be playing? And where do you listen to your music? Spotify, Pandora or iTunes?
    I think the most likely chance is that you'll find a Guns N' Roses song, because I'm a huge fan of the original lineup – mainly the Appetite for Destruction recording. I usually listen to my music on YouTube, and when I hit the gym I use my iPod.

    If you could go anywhere on vacation, where would you go?
    I would love to go to Hollywood, California, one day – I've always been fascinated with how movies are made – and probably Australia because I'd love to check out all the wildlife there. I'm a huge fan of animals.

    If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be?
    Three people I'd like to meet in person – Cesar Milan because I'm a huge fan of his work and what he's been able to do to educate people including myself on taking care of dogs properly. Vince McMahon because I think he's a marketing genius and I'd like to learn from him. Stephen King because of his ability to write amazing books. I'm not necessarily a huge fan of horror but I love writing.

    Name three things that people reading this interview don't know about you.
    1. I love dogs and animals in general. I volunteer at the local humane society and foster care for dogs whenever I can.
    2. I love writing – it is a passion of mine which has grown over the years. It’s always been a hobby but something I’m enjoying more and more.
    3. I love swimming and sports in general. I prefer much more to play sports than to watch them.
    Last edited by GPWA Aaron; 3 September 2014 at 12:37 pm.

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    Renee is offline Sponsor Affiliate Program
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    If we picked up your iPod (or more likely, your iPhone) and pressed play, what song would be playing? And where do you listen to your music? Spotify, Pandora or iTunes?
    I think the most likely chance is that you'll find a Guns N' Roses song, because I'm a huge fan of the original lineup – mainly the Appetite for Destruction recording. I usually listen to my music on YouTube, and when I hit the gym I use my iPod.
    \m/

    Go the Gunners!
    I often listen to them when I'm doing my boring cardio sessions. They definitely make it less boring
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