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  1. #1
    GPWA Dan is offline Former Staff Member
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    Default Affiliate Manager Interview Series: Yuval - Integra Partners

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    Yuval, when we first met you, you were an affiliate. Now youíre running Integra Partners, the affiliate program for Grand Duke Online Casino. Why did you make the shift from the affiliate side of the business to the operator and affiliate program side of the business?


    I was an affiliate for over 10 years. Despite its being financially fulfilling, and allowing me ample time to be with my family, I felt it was time for me to make a change. I promised myself that if the right opportunity came up, I would grab it. I believe the right opportunity came up when I was approached by Integra Partners, which is why weíre speaking right now.

    What lessons did you learn as an affiliate that youíre applying to your work at Integra Partners?

    I have learned many lessons over so many years and I am doing my best to apply all of them today. I realize the importance of transparency between the operator and the affiliate. For me, the word ďaffiliateĒmeans partnership, and that means both parties are in business together and therefore everything should be open for both sides. Only a true partnership will deliver good results in the long run.

    How did you first become involved in the online gaming industry?

    I was employed as an affiliate account manager at a company marketing the Casino-On-Net brand in 1999. When I left, I became their affiliate and made twice my previous salary as an employee. I have been in the industry ever since.

    Youíre a serious veteran of the industry. How is the Integra Partners and Grand Duke Online Casino experience different for you Ė both from a personal standpoint and from the viewpoint of what players and affiliates might see?

    I feel very fortunate that I have been given the chance to develop the affiliation business at Integra Partners from scratch. It may sound funny but I really feel that I am on a mission. My mission is to try and bring some integrity into the industry. The industry has now matured and is even regulated in many places, so itís time to do things right.

    What distinguishes Integra Partners from other affiliate programs?

    Itís new. It has to prove itself, and thatís my responsibility. The name Integra comes from the word ďintegrity,Ē something we feel has been somewhat missing in the industry for a very long time. Integra Partners does not offer 60 percent or 90 percent rev share, or whatever asinine deals operators offer these days, in order to hook you, and then continually shave your earnings. This is a business partnership between us and our affiliates; therefore we strive to reach fair deals that truly benefit both sides. We will never promise what we donít or cannot deliver. Having said that, we have what we call Royal Affiliates, and those affiliates can be paid anytime they wish during a calendar month with a 24-hour notice, providing they meet certain conditions, for example 50 real players and $5,000 in commissions.

    We also have a policy of ďNo Freeze AccountĒ ever. We donít make our partners deliver a minimum of players a month or a year. An affiliate can deliver just one player or thousands, and his account will always stay open. Itís in our T&Cs.

    What is the biggest ďunexpectedĒ problem youíve faced with Integra Partners? And how did you deal with it?

    The biggest problem we have faced up to now, in terms of our relationship with affiliates, is that we do not pay per player at this point (CPA). Being a new casino brand and a new affiliate program means we take things slowly and smartly. Itís the easiest thing in the world to pay a few hundred bucks per player, but then what? I have seen numerous casinos disappear because of that. Many affiliates work on the regular revenue share program with us and I think itís better for them as they seem to hit some big players once in a while and are rewarded very nicely. Itís a perfect risk-sharing model, if you ask me.

    What does integrity mean to you Ė and what does it mean to Integra Partners?


    Itís in our logo, Business with Integrity. Affiliates will always be given the right answers to any issue, whether itís good news or bad. We hide nothing; we believe in transparency and true partnership. We save the gimmicks for the players, not the affiliates.

    You elected to use Playtech for Grand Duke Casino. What did Playtech offer that you didnít find in other partners?


    The explanation is simple: itís Playtech. Playtech is a publicly traded company, with a strong reputation, great experience, and has grown with the years. They were pioneers when they started, and to this day they make an effort to innovate, along with the knowledge of how to properly support their licensees from every perspective.

    You are occasionally active on Twitter. What do you like about the Twitter platform? And what do you dislike about it?

    I like the fact that I can tweet anytime and that itís on my BlackBerry but I dislike the fact that I have so many friends I donít really know, and I bet they donít really know or care about me. So why follow?

    You are a regular Facebook user. How effective has Facebook been for you in marketing Grand Duke Casino? And why do you prefer Facebook over Twitter?

    Facebook has become more than a social media platform for us. It has become a working tool for our affiliates who prefer to see us online, drop a quick message or query in the messaging tool, rather than send an e-mail and wait to be answered. Because of time differences between our North American and Asian affiliates, I am able to give a quick response even after my working hours at the office. Am I the only one who takes work home?

    You donít offer any poker, bingo or sports betting. Is it more difficult to attract players without the other offerings? Or do you find it easier attracting players with the stand-alone casino?

    We target one niche, one product. I think itís easier at this time. To the best of my knowledge, a bingo player isnít a professional blackjack player and vice versa. I saw an operator in the 2010 LAC, which offered all gaming-related products, and this operator was brand new. I didnít see them in LAC 2011, which I take as a sign that our belief in one product at this stage of our company is truly the way to go.

    One thing everyone in the online gaming industry has in common is their e-mail inboxes are always full. How long do you give yourself for responding to e-mail? And what e-mail management tips can you offer?

    Itís all part of time management and priorities. When Iím working on the computer in the office, I tend to respond immediately or else things get lost or forgotten. And in cases when Iím out and then my inbox gets full, I make sure I respond from bottom up.

    One way to keep affiliates happy is to pay them on time. What steps has your program taken to ensure that theyíll be paid on time? And when do your payments go out?

    For starters, Integra will be paying affiliates by the 15th of every month. Drawing from my personal experience as an affiliate for the last 10 years, I knew that timely payments are a must! Obviously, people have bills to pay, and when you say you are going to pay someone by a certain date; you should be obligated to do so. Like I said, itís all about integrity.

    What advice do you have for someone just starting in the industry?


    Focus on one site only or at least one site per niche or market. I have seen affiliates, myself included, who think that if they own dozens of websites they will have larger volumes of traffic or search-engine positioning. In most cases that is wrong. It worked only for those who had a large budget that made it possible for them to invest in buying hundreds or thousands of other websites and create fresh content for them all. Thatís rare and expensive. My other advice is to have patience. It takes time to be known and respected by Google or Bing and by your customers as well. Stick with ďwhite hatĒ methods, and stick with casino brands that operate within regulated markets and have partnerships with software platforms(like Playtech) that demand accountability from their operators.

    You have a background in commercial real estate. What did you learn in commercial real estate that youíve been able to apply to online gaming?


    Nothing! Itís a completely different story with different techniques. There really is no comparison.

    People in the online gambling industry have been known to party. Whatís your best party story?

    Sorry if I disappoint the readers here but I actually gave up going to some of the parties. Itís not that I went somewhere else instead; itís that I preferred staying in the hotel, alone in my room, enjoying the quiet and sleeping early. Did I mention being married for 12 years and raising two kids and two dogs, working hard and paying bills? Well, my party is no party. But this one time in BAC 2009, at C-Planet's party . . . well, I sat first row next to some half-naked chicks dancing. . . .

    If someone was visiting you in Israel, what are the three places you would take them to see?

    First would be the Holy City of Jerusalem, a place sacred to all three major religions. Second would be the Dead Sea; imagine being in the lowest place on earth!
    Third would be a night out at Tel Aviv's bars and clubs. Tel Aviv can challenge NYC or Berlin any time!

    Whatís the best movie food?


    How many people answered that question with ďPopcornĒ?

    What is the last book you read? Did you enjoy it? Why or why not?


    I read history and business books. No romance. I love being realistic. No time for dreamers or fantasy. My last book was: Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israelís Economic Miracle. It talks about Israel being such a small country with such big achievements in so little time and under very difficult circumstances, mainly wars, lack of natural resources and immigration. This book has, in a way, to do with our industry as well, as I think that maybe 50 percent of the casino industry is Israeli, with Playtech being just one example of a software company, or 888.com as an operator and software provider. I think Israelis have an entrepreneur attitude and they take it all the way until the mission is complete. You can learn more about it at startupnationbook.com.

    What is your favorite movie?

    Life is Beautiful, by Roberto Benigni. It tells a remarkable, humoristic story of a six-year-old Jewish boy surviving the Holocaust at a Nazi death camp, without his knowing or understanding that he and his entire family are prisoners and waiting to be killed by the Nazis. In fact, he thinks itís all a game of hide and seek that he eventually wins when the Nazis flee just as the American tanks move into the camp to free the remaining starving prisoners late in 1945. This is truly an amazing story.

    If you had a theme song, what would it be?

    KISS Ė ďGod Gave Rock íní Roll to You.Ē

    If you could change one thing about the online gaming industry, what would it be?

    That it would be regulated and treated like any other normal business, which would do a lot towards weeding out darker elements and personalities from the industry.

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

    Hitler Ė I would take the opportunity to assassinate him.
    Gene Simmons Ė ícause I frickiní LOVE KISS!
    King David Ė smart, handsome and our forefather.

    What are three things that no one knows about you?

    1. I was once skinny.
    2. I believe my seven-year-old will one day be a rock star.
    3. I think I love God more than He loves me.

  2. #2
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    wagerjunction is offline Public Member
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    Great interview

    One thing I like about those interviews is that it allows up to put faces on people whom we've worked with for some time and actually created bonds with.

    Also it allows us to learn more about people on a personal level.

    Good one Yuval
    Amy
    Affiliate Manager
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