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    GPWA Abby is offline GPWA Editorial Staff
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    Default Affiliate Manager Interview Series - Natasha Goffman - Merkur Partners

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    (This interview was originally published in the July 2017 issue of the GPWA Times Magazine.)

    Before joining Merkur Partners, you held other affiliate marketing positions at bwin.party and GVC. How did you first get into the industry?

    It has been a decade since I joined the industry Ė time indeed flies when you are having fun! It was 2008 when I returned to Tel-Aviv, after finishing my Master studies in Germany. In my early 20s, I was not aware of the gaming industry or that Israel was a hub for gaming operations and their marketing activities. I didnít even know what affiliation was when I went to a job interview at GVC, which had recently opened its offices in Tel-Aviv and was looking for German speakers. There was a spirit of something unknown and exciting happening there that I wanted to be a part of. Our new team was trained by coachers in sales and active gaming affiliates, who were coming to the office and giving us training sessions. The best part was indeed learning from affiliates to understand their needs and what makes a good partnership. This is how I embarked into the gaming industry.

    How does your current position at Merkur Partners compare to your other affiliate marketing jobs? What lessons from your previous experiences have been the most valuable in your work at Merkur Partners?
    I see all my previous positions as a great education and priceless training field, and consider Merkur Partners my third baby. It has been a great honor to build this affiliate program from scratch with all the best practices I gathered in the last nine years.

    My prior positions gave me a comprehensive knowledge of all aspects of online gambling. I approach tasks and issues by stepping aside and thinking about the broader picture. I learned that communication is key for a successful partnership, and I encourage our affiliate team to be open and friendly and to constantly keep in touch with our partners.

    You are proficient in five languages: Russian, English, German, Hebrew and Spanish. How many of these do you regularly use at your job?
    I use all of them, since we have affiliates from all over the world and I prefer to keep a personal touch with everyone in their own language. I use English and Hebrew more actively, the others in a more passive way. I am happy I have an opportunity to maintain and practice them daily.

    About a year ago, Merkur Interactive Services launched the Merkur Partners affiliate program, partnering with Income Access. How does this program differ from what you had before? What was the hardest part of implementing the new program?
    We are happy to have Income Access as our affiliate software provider. Previously I used to work on PartyGaming and NetRefer, and I can tell that each one of them has its own soul and logic behind the login URL. They all deliver what affiliates and affiliate managers need in terms of campaign management and reporting. The only difference with PartyGaming was that the software was proprietary, which gave it more flexibility.

    Prior to Income Access, I was using both platforms more as a user. With Income Access, I had a chance to set up everything from scratch, the way it best suits our products.

    The most challenging part was to arrange a format and set up a data transfer from our software providers to Merkur Partners to assure the affiliate program has user-friendly stats display and proper net revenue calculations.

    Merkur Partners represents a number of brands. What differentiates them? What do they have in common?
    In May, we separated the sports betting brands from our newly launched casino brands. Thus, Merkur Partners is focusing right now mainly on the regulated casino market.

    Our three brands, Cashino, merkurmagic and Merkur-win, all have in common our proprietary Merkur slot games, an offline presence and the fact that they operate in the regulated markets.

    Merkur-win.it was previously operating for a couple of years on the Groupís proprietary affiliate platform, so the brand is not new for Italian customers. The Group still has offline activities in Italy, and Merkur slot machines can be found on every Italian corner. Merkur-win has a unique combination of content. Besides popular NetEnt and Evolution Gaming offerings, customers can enjoy games from local Italian suppliers CapeCode and WMG. In addition to casino games, players can find bingo, poker and sports betting products Ė in that way, Merkur-win differs from our other casino products.

    Merkurmagic.es is a totally new brand, launched in 2016 for Spanish residents. Gauselmann Group owns several land-based casino arcades in Mallorca and is expanding these days into more cities in Spain. Merkur slot machines are spread all over Spain, especially its award-winning slot game Magic Mirror. Players in Spain now have a great opportunity to enjoy their beloved games online.

    Cashino is another success story in the U.K. market. The brand has been around for years, conquering the high streets with over 160 land-based locations. Merkur Interactive Services was delighted to bring the brand to the online environment in February 2017. Thanks to Blueprint Gaming (owned by Gauselmann Group as well), players can play the same games online. The company is continually adding third-party content to make the brand unique and let it stand out from the crowd.

    Describe your role in regards to affiliates. How much of your traffic is attributable to affiliates?
    Besides the Merkur Partners affiliate program, the company has a strong marketing department that does SEM, SEO and media buying. Having the brands offline helps to get a lot of direct traffic, of course. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that affiliates are an integral part of our business.

    Merkur Partners offers affiliates 25%-35% rev share with a quota and negative carryover. How did Merkur Partners decide on this commission model?
    In addition to revenue share, Merkur Partners offers CPA, CPL and hybrid models. While working in the regulated markets, we should consider all taxes and levies, so the default terms are just as general as by our competitors. However, we treat each affiliate and their commission set up almost as a standalone case, even though it sometimes involves some manual work. We try to tailor conditions suitable to each one of our partners, and usually truly active affiliates do not earn 25%.

    Merkur Partners recently became a GPWA Platinum Sponsor. Why do you feel it's important to support the GPWA?
    We are happy to be a part of the GPWA community. Having our own forum page will help us stay in touch with all affiliates who share the GPWA values. The forum is very informative, both for affiliates and affiliate managers.

    How do you ensure that payments are sent out on time? And when do your payments go out?
    According to our terms and conditions, the payments are done within 30 days after a month closure. We try to do our best, of course, to run the payments as soon as possible.

    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 Merkur Partners brands do to retain players sent by affiliates?
    We like to make sure there's something for everyone, from cash back to bonuses and leaderboards. Plus, our loyalty program means that every time customers play, they are getting something back in return.

    Describe your typical work day.
    Though I work from home, my working day is not much different from the rest of the team, the majority of which is based in Berlin.
    My day starts quite early, around 8 a.m. With a first coffee, I go over the e-mails and tasks that need my immediate attention. With a second coffee, I go over the stats for all our brands, to make sure I am aware of all the traffic sources that we have. During the day, I am in constant contact with affiliate and marketing teams, as well as with the production and finance departments.

    Each month, I spend about a week at our main offices in Berlin. That week is more about face-to-face meetings.

    Describe the office culture at Merkur Interactive Services. How does your team work together?
    Like most of the gaming companies, our offices are pretty multicultural. They are situated in the heart of Berlin, next to Checkpoint Charlie. You canít ask for a better location!

    The affiliate team is based in four different locations: Berlin, Austria, Barcelona and me in Tel-Aviv. We are in constant contact via phone, e-mail and Skype, so you donít really feel the distance.

    What do you wish you could change about the industry?
    Aligning gambling regulations in each country, so we can operate within similar frameworks across our markets.

    Where do you think the industry will be in five years?
    On mobile, and with more regulated countries.

    If someone from out of town were to visit you, where is the one place you would have to take them?
    To Tel-Avivís oldest district, Neve Tzedek, where there are plenty of nice restaurants and a totally amazing atmosphere.

    What is the last book you read? Do you prefer an e-reader or hard copy?
    Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari. I prefer the physical book over an e-reader.

    What's your favorite movie?
    The last Woody Allen movies, from Vicky Cristina Barcelona to Rome with Love and some more.

    What do you use for most of your web surfing: A desktop computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone?
    Smartphone, just because itís always around. However, I prefer a tablet for online shopping and a laptop for doing research.

    iPhone or Android? And if we took out your earbuds, what would we find you listening to?
    iPhone. The radio.

    If you could go anywhere on vacation, where would you go?
    Some exotic place like the Maldives, for a week or two.

    If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be?
    Sergey Brin or Larry Page, the Google founders; Mick Jagger; Queen Elizabeth.

    Name three things that people reading this magazine don't know about you.
    1. I am a big fan of German wheat beers.
    2. I adore seafood.
    3. I still watch cartoons.

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    Great Interview

    1. I am a big fan of German wheat beers

    2. I adore seafood.

    3. I still watch cartoons.

    Fan of all 3 ... so your not alone there
    Miles ( Myron ) Saacks - Senior Affiliate Manager VS

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    Being able to speak 5 languages is amazing !!
    Sweet Bet | USA Online Casinos | Casino Online | CasinosOnline.org

    "Iíve read the last page of the Bible. Itís all going to turn out all right." Billy Graham

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