14 February 2017, 12:48 pm
Affiliate Manager Interview Series - David Brabson - Allegro Affiliates
(This interview was originally published in the February 2017 issue of the GPWA Times Magazine.)
Before joining Allegro, you held other affiliate marketing positions at other companies. How does your current job compare to your other affiliate marketing jobs? What lessons from your previous experiences have been the most valuable in your work at Allegro?
This is a question I could spend hours answering. I got my real start as an affiliate manager when I started talking to a guy at a party while visiting family in England. He had recently signed a contract with MyAffiliates to utilize their software to launch an affiliate program for his casinos. He needed an affiliate manager and I was unemployed, so when he asked if I was interested, I jumped at the chance. I knew nothing. I didn’t write HTML, didn’t even know what PHP was, and was way out of my element. Everything was a learning experience. In that sense I was very fortunate because I learned more from the affiliates than anybody else. Having an affiliate viewpoint gave me a very unique perspective when launching Allegro Affiliates.
Before joining the iGaming industry, you used to work at a tourist attraction in Florida. Tell us more about that job. Do you think the skills you developed in that industry have helped you in this one?
Working in tourism is all about learning to respect people’s sacrifices. Taking a family vacation is not something that people just do on a whim. They plan and save, sometimes for years, to take that special vacation and make that memory with their family, and while a need, request or even complaint may seem unreasonable to someone who works in the industry, it is important to remember that to that specific person it could make or break years' worth of planning and saving. In the end, it was all about respecting the sacrifice. The same is true in affiliate marketing. It is easy to view an affiliate as an asset, or as another website, another mailing list, but when you respect the work and sacrifice that they have put into that product, then it's easy to say “What can I do to help you?” Once you can honestly ask an affiliate that question, then they can do their part and everybody makes money. But it all starts by respecting the effort and sacrifice, whether it be a family on holiday or an affiliate trying to push your partner brands.
Tell us a bit about Allegro's customer base and marketing. What markets do you target primarily?
Our goal is to go where the brands go. We are proud to work with groups like the GPWA that allow us to go out and say "We have a partner that is promoting here or there," and be able to generate affiliate traffic for those partners because of our partnerships with our affiliate generation partners.
Allegro Affiliates represents three brands: Ballet Bingo, Megascratch and MrMega. Can you tell us a little about each of these brands? What differentiates them? What do they have in common?
I have been working with Megascratch and MrMega for a long time now. They are sister sites, owned by the same people, and are virtually identical. Both are NeoGames products that offer the same games and offers. The difference between them is just in how they are promoted.
Megascratch does more promotion of the scratchcard and instant win products, while MrMega promotes the slot machine side of the casino. What I have always liked about them is their dedication to getting things done and success. If an affiliate needs something — a custom offer, a unique banner, a bonus code — the Mega products are happy to provide it more often than not. It is not always immediate, but they are almost always willing to provide.
Ballet Bingo is new for me in many respects. They are a company that I have not done much with in the past, and bingo is a new niche for me. I tried to work with them a couple of years ago and while ownership was always very responsive, the Gtech platform was not. They have since moved to the Functional Games platform and have become a joy to work with. Like the mega products, they have been great about finding ways to make things work. The product is top notch and the response from players has been very positive.
Describe your role in regards to affiliates. How much of your traffic is attributable to affiliates?
I would say that over 90% of our traffic is driven by affiliates. We have a few partnerships that we have arranged for our partners, but the majority of what we do is provide affiliate traffic to the brands that we promote. That was always the goal when we got started: Create an affiliate network that is affiliate-centric.
Allegro Affiliates offers affiliates net revenue share of 45-60% with no negative carryover. How did Allegro decide on this commission model?
Honestly, we didn’t. This is what makes this industry so amazing: It is one of the few truly free markets.
When we started with the Mega products, they wanted a commission structure that ranged between 25% and 60%, so that is what we did. Later, we were contacted by the owners of PetersCasino.com and CasinoSjov.dk who wanted us to promote them at a flat rate of 45%. Again, we were happy to comply, but needed to tell the Mega products that they were now the low bid. As a result, they increased their bid to the current 45% to 60%. So, because of the freedom of competition, now the affiliates are making more money; we are making more money; and the Mega products are more attractive to affiliates, thus making them more money. Everybody won.
Allegro recently became a GPWA Platinum Sponsor. Why do you feel it's important to support the GPWA? And how does a sponsorship help your organization?
With the GPWA, we are marketing marketing, which is sort of a strange concept. We have amazing product to offer, a great team and very strong offers. But if nobody sees them, their strength is lost. A GPWA sponsorship helps us get in front of top-quality affiliates who have the ability to take our offers and make them work.
How do you ensure that payments are sent out on time? And when do your payments go out?
We collect prepayments from our brands before we begin promotion. Those funds are held so that there is never any chance that we won’t have the funds or that affiliate payments are delayed by the brands. We pay on the first business day of the new month.
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 does Allegro do to retain players sent by affiliates?
As we do not own any of the brands we promote, we have very little control over that. What we can control is who we partner with. We do our due diligence before agreeing to work with any new partners. Player retention is one of the key metrics that we look at when we evaluate a new brand. How do they retain players, what do they offer, how do they contact players and how often? These are all things we need to know before we agree to partner with a brand. Because we only offer revenue share opportunities, and because we earn a percentage of what the affiliates earn, player retention is as important to us as it is to the affiliate.
Describe your typical work day. How much time do you spend in meetings? How many e-mails do you send out? Do you spend much time on the phone or on Skype? How many affiliates would you say you communicate with on a typical day?
I am in the U.S., but most of my business is not. So, I get an early start to the day, usually around 5 a.m. I always start with e-mail; there are usually five to 10 waiting for me. I follow that up with a check of the affiliate system. Are there any new affiliates? Has anybody had a big gain or loss?
I like to try to contact new affiliates with a personal e-mail to try to develop a relationship from the beginning. I have found that the better my relationship with an affiliate, the more productive the partnership is and the longer it lasts. Most mornings I take an hour to eat with my girls (ages 4 and 7) and take them to school. Once they are at school, the "typical day" goes out the window. Every day is different.
Some days I can’t get off Skype, while others I barely touch it. No two days are the same, which I love about this work. I try to be done with my day when I pick my kids up from school, but I am always connected by my phone, so I am never fully off.
Describe the office culture at Allegro. How does your team work together?
While we have an office that we meet at, at times, we mostly work from home. We are all family people and balance our work with our families. The great thing about this team is that while small, we are motivated and efficient. Skype and Google Drive keep us connected emulate an office environment. While laid back, we keep things professional during office hours. There is always a lot to do and less time to do it in. On the flip side, when we get together outside of work, we try to keep work out of things allowing us to be friends, as well as colleagues.
What do you wish you could change about the industry?
There is a distinct disconnect between casino software providers, affiliate software providers and affiliate managers. What affiliate managers — and affiliates by proxy — need to truly succeed is rarely fully available. Casino software operators like to keep things close to the vest, as the saying goes, while most affiliate management software is designed for general affiliation, and casino affiliate management is very different. I would love to get all of these people in the same room and get them to understand each other.
Where do you think the industry will be in five years?
While I am no economist, this industry seems very stable. Google will continue to release their updates, and while this is not a popular sentiment, I think that is a good thing. A person looking to find a deck of cards online does not need to get poker rooms as a result. Even if that generates a click, or even a registration, the player will not be the same quality as that of a person looking to play online poker. With Google keeping everybody as honest as possible, this industry will continue as it has.
That being said, 10 years from now is another story. I don't see online gambling in the U.S. occurring in the next five years, but in 10 years I think it is realistic. That would be a big change to the industry. I see a flood of new casinos and new money flying around, and a subsequent crash as the competition pushes some of the smaller fish out of the pond. When the U.S. legalizes, things will get very interesting.
If someone from out of town were to visit you, where is the one place you would have to take them?
Orlando, Florida. You can’t come here without visiting the theme parks. We have four Disney Parks, two Disney Water Parks, two Universal Studios Parks, Sea World and Lego Land. Close your eyes, spin around and throw a rock, and you are likely to hit a theme park. Any and all of them would be a good choice to take a visitor to.
What is the last book you read? Did you read it on an e-reader, or do you need to have a copy of the physical book in your hand?
I am addicted to Kindle Unlimited. Without it I would need a second or even third job to pay for my reading habit, and my wife would leave me because of the books all over the house. I just finished reading Right to Kill by Andrew Peterson. It's the sixth book in the Nathan McBride series, and though some have been better than others, I have enjoyed them all. I have also enjoyed the Frontiers Saga by Ryk Brown and get excited every time there is a new addition to the series, which now has 17 volumes, I believe.
What's your favorite movie?
I am extremely picky when it comes to movies. I love a movie that is not predictable and keeps me wondering what will happen next (all romcoms were just eliminated). Movies like the independent film Crash, which ties a bunch of unique stories together, always get a thumbs up from me, while anything with Jim Carrey in it is likely a thumbs down. If I had to narrow the list down, though, anything by Mel Brooks would be high on the list, with Spaceballs at the top.
What do you use for most of your web surfing: A desktop computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone?
I'm old-school: I like my desktop tower. I have a laptop and old tablet, but at the end of the day, I like my desktop.
iPhone or Android? And if we took out your earbuds, what would we find you listening to?
Android, always Android. I had an iPhone once; I'm not interested in going back. I very rarely listen to music. Usually when I do it is because my wife or children took over the controls. I prefer talk radio, usually sports, especially during American football season, but politics is good at times too.
If you could go anywhere on vacation, where would you go?
I have been promising my children a trip to play in the snow for a couple of years now, but between family and school and my wife’s work schedule, it has not yet worked out. I really want to take my kids to play in the snow somewhere.
If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be?
John F. Kennedy: I am an American history buff and his presidency was filled with some of the most influential times in American history, and to hear about it from him would simply be amazing.
Former First Lady Barbara Bush: I saw her speak at a convention when I was a young teenager, maybe 13 or 14, and she had a strength and spirit about her that I think was highly under-appreciated. I believe that she would have a very interesting perspective on the world today.
Robin Williams: It became glaringly obvious when he passed that very few people truly knew him, but I always found his insight into the world around him brilliant. Though he was known for his comedy, the genius behind that comedy would make for a very interesting conversation over a few cold ones.
Name three things that people reading this magazine don't know about you.
1. If I won the lottery and never had to worry about money again, I would be a full-time student. I was one of the strange people who loved college for its academics. I would spend the rest of my life learning if I could.
2. I love cars, especially old ones. I love to get under the hood and get my hands dirty. I am by no means a professional, but I am definitely a hobbyist. It is something that I share with my father.
3. The smartest thing that I did was marry a woman smarter than me. When I look short-term, she looks long-term. When I am impulsive, she makes me think. While I am serious, she is giggly and silly. When people say “Behind every great man is a great woman,” I have to agree, from personal experience.
14 February 2017, 4:25 pm
Great interview. MegaScratch sounds interesting. I promote several casinos, poker, bingo and sports sites, but never looked at promoting scratchcard sites.
15 February 2017, 2:33 am
Nice interview .. Great to see a committed Husband and Dad doing well...love the picture its great to have a family that supports you i have 2 small boys 3 and 4 years old and love them to the ends ...My wife is a gem too so good luck