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    GPWA Aaron is offline Former Staff Member
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    Default Affiliate Manager Interview Series | Stephen Croft - Affiliate Edge

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    You've just joined Affiliate Edge, but you've been working in online gaming for the last six years. What did you do, and with whom did you work prior to this recent move to the affiliate management side of things?
    Before joining AE I was working in customer support for the brands we promote. I did this for two years before being promoted to a team leader role. I worked with a small group of CS advisors for a year until I was promoted again to the cashier department, where I was heavily involved with the verification process, and helped with the processing of payments.

    When I joined the Club World Group, it wasnít a group; it was a solo casino in its early years. Itís been great to watch the company grow so fast knowing that itís partly down to me, and itís also great that the managers here have recognized my hard work and have decided to give me this chance to progress further and learn more about this great industry.

    What made you decide you wanted to make the leap from the operator side to affiliate management?
    I heard that the position was being posted internally and I was interested immediately. I spoke with Martyn about the role and after some questions about what it would entail I decided to go for it. After six years of working as the first point of contact for players, I wanted a change, to learn more about the industry. Affiliate management sounded like something totally different to what I had done before, a challenge.

    Your first day on the job was at the Amsterdam Affiliate Conference. What was that experience like?
    It was kind of nerve-racking walking into a roomful of people that I didnít know. It felt like Martyn was getting me back for years of bald jokes and was leading the lamb to slaughter, but everyone was friendly and Martyn did a great job of introductions. I managed to meet some of our affiliates face to face, which was nice. The fancy meals and beer were good, too!

    All in all I had a great time in Amsterdam; it was an eye opener. Iím looking forward to meeting more people at the next event.

    This question may be a bit unfair as you are still early on in your new position, but what role do conferences play in Affiliate Edge's marketing plans? How important is face-to-face contact with affiliates in terms of building and maintaining relationships?
    To me conferences seem very important, especially with me being new. Itís hard for affiliates to trust someone they donít know, so conferences give me that platform I need to get myself out there and show how I would be a good partner to work with.

    I can understand why affiliates sometimes find it hard to make new relationships. A lot have had bad experiences in the past, and this is their livelihood, after all. Putting a face to a name also helps you understand each affiliateís individual character traits Ė theyíre humans, they donít want to receive canned e-mail. Knowing a person can help you give that personal touch when back in the office. Some of the banter I have seen so far between affiliates and Martyn has been incredible. I hope one day I have the same kind of relationship with the people I work with.

    You've only been on board with Affiliate Edge for a couple months, but are already a fairly active member on the GPWA forums. How do you see the GPWA fitting into Affiliate Edge's marketing efforts? And why is forum participation important for affiliate programs?
    The GPWA gives me and AE the platform we need to show that we are reliable and we care. But whatís special about the GPWA is the fact it gives affiliates the chance to voice their opinions and then gives programs the chance to put their side of the story across, too Ė all in a civilized manner Ė until an agreement is reached. Being active on these forums is a big part of my job; I need to make sure that existing and potentially new affiliates know I am there for them should they have any questions.

    Affiliate Edge provides affiliate management for nine online casinos. What do affiliates need to know about Affiliate Edge in order to effectively market their brands? What distinguishes the Affiliate Edge brands from other online casinos, both in terms of the player's experience and what you offer affiliates?
    Affiliates need to know how to pull off various types of creatives that are available, such as flash games, links and banners, and also how to ID track their campaigns, which is very easy to set up, very easy to follow and can help massively when trying to factor what is working and what isnít working. Our reporting is in depth and allows affiliates to see a lot of data on their results. Being able to use this tool will help affiliates understand the traffic they are sending to Affiliate Edge and how best to optimize it.

    What distinguishes the brands we promote? Although a lot of RTG platforms have the same games, we do try to make ourselves unique; our customized lobbies are all designed in house to give that authentic feel when the player logs in. We run a variety of special promotions and freerolls, and I would say the loyalty scheme is hard to rival.

    In addition to all of this we run our daily promotions to keep regular players coming back for more. A lot of emphasis goes in to making the playerís experience an easy one, from the log-in screen to claiming a bonus to reviewing terms and conditions, which are clearly displayed in the cashier section to avoid having to scour the website.

    What markets are Affiliate Edge brands' primary target audiences? Where do you make most of your revenue? Any emerging markets affiliates should know about?
    Weíre mainly focused on the U.S. market; however, we do have an influence on the European and South African markets, too. We do accept players from all over the world, so if youíre an affiliate with non-U.S. traffic that doesnít mean we canít do some business together.

    It's one thing to bring in new people to a site. It's another thing entirely to get them to stick around. What does Affiliate Edge do to retain players sent by affiliates?
    Our promotion and retention team is currently the largest in the office. A lot of emphasis is put on not only converting players, but retaining them, too. We are located in the same office as the promo/retention guys; I see this as a positive. Being able to liaise with them in real time helps us maintain a competitive advantage, as not all gaming companies are set up in this way.

    Describe the office culture at Affiliate Edge. If there were a fly on the wall, what are some of the topics of conversation it would hear about at the water cooler?
    Seriously, the less I say about this the better. Letís just say you would need a certain type of personality to cope in our office at times. If you think Martyn is out there then you should see the staff we keep locked up in the bike shed on their days off.

    No, really Ė itís a quite laid back atmosphere. We all understand that as long as our work is done, targets are met and customers/affiliates are happy then we can have our fun while maintaining a level of professionalism. Iíve worked in a few office environments and this has been the best one by far, hence why Iíve stuck around so long.

    Props to management for getting the balance right.

    Also the big boss is very hands on, which I see as an advantage. With him around we all know in which direction the company should be heading, and each department works hard to achieve that, which I believe has been recognized with the various awards that the company has won, as a whole, over the years.

    Let's get to the most important question in this interview. What's it like to work for Martyn Beacon? Be honest Ė he's never going to see this, right?
    I can imagine it being a challenge to the uninitiated; however, as a time served inmate at the Club World Group HQ I was prepared for some of Martynís more unorthodox approaches to team management (firing elastic bands around the office, sticking Red Bull cans to his head, etc.). When I went to Amsterdam I was amazed at how many people actually liked him!!

    In all seriousness, though, Martyn has been a great teacher so far. I couldnít wish for a better manager. Heís fun to have around the office but he gets his work done, even if it means staying extra late. The bond he has with affiliates is something I hope to replicate; they arenít just his business partners, a lot of them are friends.

    How do you ensure that payments are sent out on time? And when do your payments go out?
    We have a pretty decent payment system in place which we manage to stick to the vast majority of the time. Delays sometimes are inevitable, but we try to keep the affiliates informed when and if a delay occurs. The vast majority of our payments are made on the fifth working day of the month, with the wire transfers being made on or around the 19th of the month, depending on what day that falls on.

    One thing is for sure with us, you donít need to worry about getting paid Ė even if itís late weíre on top of it and will get it to you as soon as possible.

    Where do you think the industry will be in five years?
    I could take a guess but seriously I donít think Iím the best qualified person to answer this question at this stage in my fledgling career. Iíd like to think it will be flourishing with me at the forefront driving the affiliate industry forward. Letís see what happens!

    Word is you're a football fan. Do you play yourself? What's your favorite team?
    I play in a five-a-side league on a Wednesday just to stay fit. None of us are that mobile so itís kind of like playing in the mean machine squad.

    I support Manchester United. I live around five minutes from Old Trafford, and held a season ticket as a teenager. I wish I still had it now but my weekends all seem to be taken up by other things. I have a few friends still with season tickets so getting to go to games is still quite easy for me when I have time.

    We also hear you enjoy cycling. Do you race or are you a recreational rider
    Again, just recreational to keep fit Ė more of a fair-weather rider.

    If someone from out of town were to visit you, where is the one place you would have to take them?
    The Australasia Restaurant for food. If anyone is ever in Manchester I highly recommend it. They serve the best sushi I have ever tasted and have a range of cocktails that not even Tom Cruise could create.

    That would probably be followed by a trip to Old Trafford (preferably a Champions League game) to watch the best team in the world teach the opposition a footballing lesson.

    Whatís the best movie food?
    Ben & Jerryís Cookie Dough ice cream. I canít get enough of the stuff.

    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?
    Iím not a big reader lately, but the last time I picked up a book I ended up reading the first four Harry Potter books. Everything I do is in binge sessions, whether it be watching TV, reading books, drinking, etc. I canít just watch one series or read one book. I have to be in the right mood for something, and when I am I do it to an extreme level. I do plan on reading the Game of Thrones books in the near future.

    What is your favorite movie?
    Inception.

    If you had a theme song, what would it be?
    The Benny Hill theme tune.



    If you could go anywhere on vacation, where would you go?
    There are so many places I want to go to . . . India, Malaysia, Singapore, and China; also Japan is high on my list of places to visit. Okay, so I just reviewed the list and thereís an obvious hint that I love Far Eastern food.

    If you could have dinner with three other people, living or dead, who would they be? Frankie Boyle, David Attenborough and Bobby Charlton.

    What would you do if you just inherited a pizzeria from your uncle?
    Iím not a massive fan of pizza so Iíd probably sell up and invest the money in property. Sorry, Uncle Mario!

    What are three things that no one knows about you?

    1. Iíve been spiking Martynís shampoo with hair removal cream for three years.
    2. I made the front of a newspaper with friends for jumping off a bridge 60 feet into water. The headline read ďKids Dice With Death.Ē
    3. Iím known for being a bit clumsy, e.g., falling in the only puddle in Manchester, during a heat wave, on my lunch break, on a workday, in front of a beer garden full of people! Video evidence is available thanks to Martyn, who obtained the CCTV footage!

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    Quote Originally Posted by GPWA Aaron View Post

    If you had a theme song, what would it be?
    The Benny Hill theme tune.

    Haha!
    I never thought of this one, but I reckon it could easily be more than one person's theme song around here.
    Love it.
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    Great interview. Affiliate Edge is one of the most reliable and respected affiliate programs out there. I've been promoting it for many years and have always been very happy with it.
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    AE-Stephen is offline Former AM
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    Quote Originally Posted by Renee View Post
    Haha!
    I never thought of this one, but I reckon it could easily be more than one person's theme song around here.
    Love it.
    This is one of the questions I was struggling with for a while, I think it was someone in the office who recommended it.

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    Anthony-Coral is offline Former Employee of Coral
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    Quote Originally Posted by GPWA Aaron;
    I can understand why affiliates sometimes find it hard to make new relationships.
    I thought that was a hugely insulting thing to say!

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    AE-Martyn (9 January 2014)

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    AE-Martyn is offline Former AM
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    Good interview Ste, weird photo you used.

    For anyone who missed the footage of Ste falling in a puddle, here it is...

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    Renee (9 January 2014)

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    Quote Originally Posted by AE-Stephen View Post
    This is one of the questions I was struggling with for a while, I think it was someone in the office who recommended it.
    Quote Originally Posted by AE-Martyn View Post
    Good interview Ste, weird photo you used.

    For anyone who missed the footage of Ste falling in a puddle, here it is...
    And that video is EXACTLY why that should be your theme song.

    I sometimes wish we had video cameras following us around these conferences. There sure would be some funny footage to put behind that theme song.
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