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  1. #1
    GPWA Dan is offline Former Staff Member
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    Default Affiliate Manager Interview Series | James Boran, mFortune Partners

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    Before joining mFortune Partners, you worked in marketing for NERO Pipeline Connections, correct? Tell us everything you know about pipes.

    Yes, that is correct. I was the Marketing and Business Development Manager for three and a half years at NERO and worked for the largest machine tool manufacturer in the world prior to that. Stainless steel pipes are a huge part of the chemical, pharmaceutical, water, marine, hydraulic and pneumatic industries, to name but a few. If you ever need to know the difference between a flange and a ball valve, just give me a call.

    You signed on with mFortune just a few months ago. What attracted to you to the online gambling industry, and to mFortune specifically?

    The first time I spoke to mFortune I knew it was the job I wanted and the company that I wanted to work for. They are more than just a gambling company; they are an innovative technology company. I am interested in gambling and I am interested in technology, so it was a perfect fit.

    What did your family think when you told them you were going to work in the online gambling industry?

    I think the company I was working for was more important to them than what type of industry it was in. All my family were very happy for me; they knew I wasn't destined to stay in the engineering industry forever.

    What are some of the major differences between working in the online gambling industry and working in the stainless pipeline products industry?

    Obviously the products couldn't be further apart, but generally the goals of most companies are similar: We want success for ourselves and for our partners. I believe marketing boils down to a few core concepts that can be adapted to any industry. If you mix that with some hard work, then it doesn't matter what industry it is.

    Did you get a chance to go to BAC in October? If so, what was your impression?

    I did make a fleeting visit to BAC; we flew into Berlin in the morning, went to the show then flew back home. Having attended my fair share of exhibitions in the past, I was actually a little underwhelmed. I won't mention any names, but having spoken to some of the competition it made me feel confident about growing our affiliate program. I have heard very good things about LAC, though, and we will be exhibiting there for the first time in February.

    As a mobile-focused company, mFortune has been around quite a while. When the site launched, a mobile-focused online casino was pretty forward-thinking. While I know you're relatively new to the company, can you describe the evolution of the industry when it comes to smartphones and tablets?

    mFortune launched in 2008, and our other brand, PocketWin, was launched in 2011. mFortune did the reverse of most companies who expanded their desktop games to mobile. We were totally optimized to mobile from the beginning, and then we went to tablet and desktop. We are well ahead of the game when it comes to mobile and guarantee the same immersive gaming experience on all devices. For many years we have been waiting for the technology to catch up to our ambition, and now with the impressive smartphones on the market it is our time to shine.

    How does a mobile player differ from a player that is playing on a desktop or laptop? Do they play more often? Are their sessions longer or shorter?

    Mobile players tend to play in shorter, lower value sessions than desktop players; however, they do play more often. The beauty of mobile gaming is that you can really do it anywhere. If you have 10 minutes to spare on the bus on the way to work, what is to stop you having a few spins? It is more important than ever that players enjoy the experience and are entertained, to keep them coming back.

    Five years ago, offering a mobile platform for casino games was a unique selling point. Now nearly every major site — many of which had huge existing customer bases — offers a mobile platform. How does mFortune compete with the industry's heaviest hitters?

    We are 99% mobile-focused, operating all of our games' own technology. Having 100% control of our own product means we can innovate and pass on these advantages to our partners and customers. Not having to pay license fees on games means higher net values. I don't think any of our competitors have the flexibility that mFortune enjoys.

    mFortune designs all of its own games. Why did the company go in this direction, rather than accessing the games libraries of some of the larger software providers in the industry?

    We are a technology company first, and we want complete control over what our players experience so we can be as player-centric as possible. Don't get me wrong, I am sure there are lots of other good games out there, but we have no intention of becoming just a branding company like so many others out there.

    What games are the most popular among players at mFortune right now?

    At the moment Cat and Mouse is very popular because of the large progressive jackpot. I would say our new game Sherlock Holmes: Murdered to Death has been very popular, along with some old favorite slots such as Busta Safe and Viking Storm, and bingo, of course. Generally our newer games have now come of age and taken on a new level of animation and graphic appeal.

    The terms and conditions at mFortune seem much more player-friendly than many of your competitors'. Not only do you have a £5 no-deposit bonus, but you also allow players to cash out bonuses once the initial deposit and the bonus have been wagered through one time. How can you afford to offer such generous terms? Do you see a lot of bonus hunters at the site?

    The terms are very generous and we often get asked this question. We do take a hit to begin with, but we are a player-focused casino and that helps us retain our players for a long period of time. To be honest, we don't see that many bonus hunters; it isn't really an issue for us. I think players appreciate the respect we show and generally do not abuse the offers.

    How important are affiliates to the success of mFortune? In addition to affiliate marketing, how does mFortune market itself and build its brand?

    They are unbelievably important to us. In the past few weeks we have become a platinum sponsor of the GPWA and have signed the contract to exhibit at the London, Amsterdam and Berlin affiliate conferences next year. This, along with lots of other activities we have planned, shows the commitment we have to our affiliate program. We are one of Facebook's largest gaming advertisers, and 2016 will see a huge brand push for mFortune as we will see the continuation of our TV advertising, PPC and all other traditional marketing methods. I am personally overseeing the expansion of the affiliate team to offer a market-leading service to all of our affiliates.

    In May 2015, mFortune left the Income Access Network to start its own affiliate program, powered by Income Access. Can you describe the difference between the two arrangements? What are the advantages of having an in-house affiliate program? Are there any disadvantages?

    There is no difference with the actual software or how it works. The difference is that we now have full control of our own affiliate program, which means we can work more closely with our affiliates. I don't think there any disadvantages for mFortune or our affiliates with the new arrangement, only positives.

    mFortune Partners 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?

    The GPWA has been a very valuable tool for me personally in getting up to speed with the industry. Without the community, I think the industry as a whole would be much worse off. It makes sense to support that. In regards to helping mFortune, I believe it adds a legitimacy to our affiliate program and also gives us valuable feedback from the industry. It is an open and transparent communication channel between operators and affiliates.

    When mFortune joined the GPWA, some affiliates complained about your policy of awarding commissions to the affiliate who generated the "first click" rather than the affiliate that closed the sale. Less than six hours later, you changed the policy. That's a pretty rapid response. Why was the first-click policy originally adopted, and why did you decide to change it?

    I believe a strong argument can be made for either side. People who make customers aware of the brand do deserve credit, and it does help us track our marketing activity by learning where people found us first. I see our relationship with affiliates as a partnership and that has got to work both ways. When I saw the overwhelming majority preferred a last click policy, the only sensible option for us was to listen to the community and change it. We are happy to admit that we are always learning and I would be more than happy to hear of other ideas affiliates have; if it worked for everyone, I would make the changes.

    mFortune Partners offers affiliates 40-60% revenue share. Why did you mFortune decide on this commission structure? Do you also offer CPA for affiliates who prefer that revenue model?

    You need an introductory model, and we are able to offer such generous terms because of all the advantages to mFortune I previously mentioned. We do offer CPA and hybrid deals – I am open to any type of deal as long as it works for the affiliate and ourselves. As mentioned before, we can be incredibly flexible.

    You also offer monthly and yearly prizes for affiliates who deliver the best traffic to the site. What kinds of prizes can top affiliates win? And how are those winners determined?

    Even though I have only been with the company a matter of months, I have built up a good relationship with all of our top affiliates and sent out a few gifts already. To be honest, I decide the prize based on which affiliate it is. We try to reward them with something that we know they will appreciate: I believe a personal touch is very important. After they read this, I imagine they may all start telling me how they have always liked Aston Martins.

    How do you ensure that payments are sent out on time? And when do your payments go out?

    Our payments are sent out on the 16th of every month and are dealt with by our accounts department. I haven't had one complaint about payment from any of the affiliates I have dealt with so far, and I think that tells you something about how efficient they are.

    What does mFortune do to retain players sent by affiliates?

    Everything we do or create revolves around the player. We have weekly bonuses, prizes, loyalty points, exclusive games and the ability to launch new games in a matter of weeks. Our customer relationship management (CRM) system has a 97% delivery and open rate, which is unrivaled! Our CRM, in-house games and player-centric approach affords us market-leading retention rates.

    What does mFortune do to protect players who may have a gambling problem?

    We have numerous automatic checks on player behavior to spot warning signs, and we have a 24/7 365-day call center that can act upon these. We also have opt-outs, daily limits and self-exclusions.

    Describe your typical work day.

    Every day starts with a meeting with the rest of the marketing team, who play a big part in the success of our affiliate program. Skype is always open and conversations are always going on throughout the day. I would say I have a lot more e-mail than phone calls to deal with, but there are no typical days. I could spend all day talking to one affiliate or updating thousands of affiliates about our latest great game or exciting offers.

    Describe the office culture at mFortune. If we were was a fly on the wall, what are some of the topics of conversation we'd hear about at the water cooler?

    We have just moved into a huge new office and I don't know where the water cooler from the old office has got to yet. The office culture is very positive; we have a very young(ish) team who are all very driven and hardworking. We still have plenty of time for a few jokes and beers, though.

    What do you wish you could change about the industry?

    I wish I could change the trust issue between operators and affiliates. I think there have been too many rogue affiliate programs that have burned people in the past, and because of that it makes my, and other affiliate managers who have good programs with good intentions, jobs a lot harder.

    Where do you think the industry will be in five years?

    Mobile!

    You've lived in Birmingham your entire life, correct? Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion or Birmingham City?

    I am an Aston Villa fan and had a season ticket a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, our season doesn't seem to have gone to plan so far, but I have faith that our French savior Rémi Garde will lead us to glory. It is also still a hell of a lot better than being a Birmingham City fan.

    If someone from out of town were to visit you, where is the one place you would have to take them?

    It would have to be the Post Office Vaults in Birmingham City Centre. It has 367 bottle beers, eight real ales on tap and 13 real ciders. You can also take your own food in and there is a brilliant noodle bar round the corner called Wok Your Way.

    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?

    I can't profess to be an avid reader; to be honest, you are more likely to find me playing FIFA than reading. The last book I read was the latest Game of Thrones book, and although I started reading the hardback version I switched to an e-reader after the first few chapters, which I much preferred.

    What's your favorite movie?

    Braveheart. The only time you will find me supporting the Scots over the English.

    What do you use for most of your Web surfing: A desktop computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone?

    I would say overall it is my smartphone; however, I still use a desktop, laptop and tablet. I suppose it just depends on the situation.

    iPhone, Android or flip phone? And if we took out your earbuds, what would we find you listening to?

    I am an iPhone user and have been for a few years. I used to have an Android, but for me there is just no comparison. Also, what is a flip phone? I had a Sony Ericsson T20 when I was a kid? As for music, the last thing played in my car was one of The Streets' albums.

    If you could go anywhere on vacation, where would you go?

    If I had to choose a place I have never visited before, I think it would be Borneo.

    If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be?

    1. Emile Heskey
    2. Ataturk
    3. Richard Dawkins

    Name three things that people reading this magazine don't know about you.

    There are a lot of things that the people reading the magazine won't know about me, but to name three:

    My brother traced our family tree back a few years ago and discovered we were related to Shakespeare (through marriage, not blood).

    I have grade 6 in piano and cello, although they are from when I was much younger.

    I don't like gravy.

  2. #2
    ElaineGardiner's Avatar
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    Great interview James...but how can you not like gravy, what do you put on your Sunday roast?!!

  3. #3
    James.Boran is offline Former AM
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    Thank you Elaine.

    I just have a normal Sunday Roast but without gravy! (I don't like ketchup and mayo either)

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    OMG how can you not like gravy or mayo?!
    I die!

    Chicken roll, what do you put on it? No mayo?
    Do you get Mcdonalds chicken burger no mayo?
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    Interesting interview. I don't know how someone doesn't like gravy or mayo either. LOL
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    GPWA Aaron is offline Former Staff Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by James.Boran View Post
    Thank you Elaine.

    I just have a normal Sunday Roast but without gravy! (I don't like ketchup and mayo either)
    I get not liking mayo -- I think it's incredibly gross. But no ketchup and gravy? I can't stand for this.

  9. #7
    James.Boran is offline Former AM
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    I love the emotional response this always brings out in people.

    Renee, that is exactly what I do Mcdonalds mayo is even worse!

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    Great Interview except the fact your a Villan ... Didnt fancy that part one bit lol

  11. #9
    James.Boran is offline Former AM
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    Being an Aston Villa fan is nothing to be proud of this season.

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    We have an artist here

    Cool interview!
    Very realistic prediction about industry future in mobile, although that's something I'm actually afraid of - already so tired of self-phones and everyone's obsession with their own..

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    Quote Originally Posted by James.Boran View Post
    I love the emotional response this always brings out in people.

    Renee, that is exactly what I do Mcdonalds mayo is even worse!
    I just don't know if I could be friends with someone who orders a mcchicken without mayo!
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    Why such a big fuss about mayo?!

    Vivo lo sour-cream!

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    James.Boran is offline Former AM
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    Quote Originally Posted by Renee View Post
    I just don't know if I could be friends with someone who orders a mcchicken without mayo!
    You break my heart Renee. I do like a chicken legend with salsa does that count?

    I know what you mean about phones Jelena but if you look at the past five years and how they have advanced I can only see one outcome in the next five years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by James.Boran View Post
    You break my heart Renee. I do like a chicken legend with salsa does that count?

    I know what you mean about phones Jelena but if you look at the past five years and how they have advanced I can only see one outcome in the next five years.
    I know, that's what terrifies me
    But phones are probably going to be as large as laptops, so no worries... I like using laptop

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    Quote Originally Posted by James.Boran View Post
    You break my heart Renee. I do like a chicken legend with salsa does that count?
    It doesn't

    This makes me so sad. I had so much mayo on the weekend. It was so good!!
    Maybe you need to try again?
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    I love it. Finally someone compared stainless pipeline products with online gambling!

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