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    GPWA Daniel is offline GPWA Associate Editor
    Join Date
    June 2018
    Thanked 307 Times in 84 Posts

    Default Affiliate Interview Series - Ernest P.

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    (This interview was originally published in the July 2020 edition of the GPWA Times Magazine)

    Please tell us how you got started in the iGaming industry?

    My first baby steps started when I was a teenager, around 14 or 15 years old. E-gold was a big thing, there was no Facebook, no Bitcoin, Skrill was called MoneyBookers and PayPal was a very new thing. I was very interested in various brands and programs where you could invite people and earn money or win prizes, such as, which was a big thing back then.

    After winning a ton of various prizes in various programs and similar competitions, in 2011 I was recommended to a lottery affiliate website, which is still running to this day. This was my first step into the affiliate world. I started successfully promoting it in my home country and for a teenager like me, every $10 made a big difference.

    Then my flatmate in university taught me how to play Texas Hold’em and I started doing more research on strategy and various promotions. Once I knew all the basics, a few years later I brought a very popular poker brand to my home country and ran the biggest weekly freeroll series to this day. Every week we had free tournament tickets and an expensive poker chip set for grabs. That’s when I started to learn more about communication with affiliate managers and players, private promotions, negotiation and more. I managed to do that without having my own website. I did that in two local online communities and since I was very helpful and was bringing value, I was allowed to advertise there.

    So, have you ever held a job that didn’t involve iGaming?

    I have a Bachelor’s with Honors degree in marketing. Just before graduation, I thought that I may have work in some office in London or Edinburgh, I was not looking forward to it. After graduation I‘ve spent some time in Bulgaria since I was working with a short-tem EU project. I was a Marketing Manager in an NGO (non-governmental organization). This opportunity gave me some experience in marketing and social media. This is as close as I ever was to an actual job. I never had a full time job contract and never wanted to be restricted.

    Are you a full-time or part-time affiliate? If full-time, how long did it take you to get to the point where you could make enough income to be a full-time affiliate?

    I am a full-time affiliate. Since I work for myself, I can always find time for another side income (if it is worth my time). However, in the future I would be interested to start or join a business that has great potential. When I was a teenager I would always come up with various ways on how to make money on my own. I used to help people with their limited PayPal accounts, was selling an in-game currency when I was younger, and even sold our family’s honey in the local market.

    Do you have employees or use freelancers?

    I am the owner who is taking care of various tasks. We also have several freelancers.

    You mention on your main site that “PokCas is a unique and very useful platform like no other. You will not find advertisement banners here since we are independent and honest.” How is PokCas “unique” and what went into your decision to not use banners?

    The idea for PokCas was born during the first SiGMA’s Affiliate Grand Slam event which was hosted in a Hilton Hotel, Estonia. This was my first affiliate conference ever and I almost skipped it! And you will not believe why I almost decided not go. It was that inner voice that we all have, it says that it is not worth it, it may be boring, etc. But I had a good previous experience from my past when that inner voice of mine was wrong. I went to that previous event, I even helped run it. So it was totally opposite of what I was expecting. I even met a person in whose business Bill Gates has invested.

    So since I was sponsored by one iGaming brand and all flights and accommodation were paid for, I literally had to go and see what would happen. I will not go into too much detail, but it was great. During one of the presentations by one of the iGaming companies, I somehow got this vision in my head. What if there was a platform which would rank iGaming brands, but the positions could always change? Something that you could quickly have a look at and see what is going on in the industry. My vision was to have a platform which would motivate brands to improve and fight with each other even more.

    So after I came back from the conference, a brand name was born in my head. Since I knew that I will mainly focus on POKer and CASino, I decided that PokCas would be a great brand name. It is short, easy to remember and represents us well. I pitched this idea to one friend of mine who is a great programmer, but an even better designer. He was really interested, however, since he preferred a monthly salary and not shares of the brand, he decided to work for a very large hosting company where he still works to this day. So instead of a 50% share, I kept everything.

    Our brand is very different since we don’t use random banners and don’t just add icons with multiple bonuses like most sites do. What we have are transparent rankings, news and guides. If something major happened in the industry – we will reflect that, we will not hide it and we will not let brands to ‘’shut us up’’. We show what is best for the players, not us, not brands, but the players. We pick brands that are innovative, creative, respond to player feedback, offer great promotions, their platforms are user-friendly, they are transparent and strive to become better versions of themselves. Since most websites in this industry are the opposite of that, I decided to offer something else. A website which a player could trust and value. A website which is not owned by an iGaming operator or an affiliate who is dependant on the brands and will say whatever he is told to.

    Please tell us about the VIP program that PokCas offers?

    This is a great private program for active players who play medium-high stake poker and casino games. We award cash and special gifts for players who sign up through us (for some brands we can simply transfer your old account) as a thank you for being loyal. Also, our players get VIP promotions for being a part of a PokCas gang.

    Please tell us about your background with video games and your site?

    I always loved video games, especially those that have a split-screen multiplayer mode. Too bad that the times are changing now. Tracker Fortnite platform was acquired by me since I noticed that it was for sale in my local community. I saw a lot of potential in it and it did not even take long for me to make my money back since the price wasn’t high. Together with our tech guy, (which I found once I started working on it) I introduced new trackers, guides and databases which are loved by the Fortnite Players. We plan to keep on adding more guides and trackers, so there will be a lot of new trackers and content. It brings additional revenue and it is one of the most popular Fortnite Trackers in the world (U.S. is our main market). So far, not planning to launch any other sites, but I am always looking forward for new opportunities.

    What's your approach to SEO and drawing traffic to your sites? How much time do you spend on SEO specifically?

    That is something I had to learn from scratch. SEO is like art, you can be good at it, but you can never fully master it, even if you are close, some changes can make a huge impact. Most of our traffic is from SEO and we pay a lot of attention to it. I personally think about our SEO changes almost daily. I write a to-do list all the time and implement the changes later. We have made a lot of progress recently and during (the later part of 2020), we expect a massive growth.

    You are very active in forums. Please tell us why and do you have any specific examples of how the forums have benefitted you and your business?

    I started in my local online forums. It was a good way to do a test run without having your own website. If administrators allow you to write reviews or if you come up with some sort of an agreement, this can be a good starting income. Since then I became and administrator of the largest IT and business forum in the country and also another online platform, which is the largest and oldest local poker forum. So due to my persistence, activity and helpfulness, I was able to move up the ladder and get promoted.

    Do you gamble online?

    I used to play online poker tournaments, then switched to Spin & Go’s, where I was doing great. But now I decided to focus on my main sources of income. However, I do still play special tournaments in rare occasions.

    What traits do you look for in an affiliate manager and affiliate program?

    If they are willing to take that extra step, that is always a good sign.

    If they send merchandise, offer extra income for emergencies (yes, some do that), motivate you with private gifts/promotions for you/your players, that is always a good sign. A tip for unexperienced affiliate managers, don’t be like: ’’We won’t offer anything, send us traffic for three months and then we will see’’. Check who you are talking to, if needed – ask your management to treat some affiliates with extra incentives.

    If you could change one thing about the industry these days, what would it be and why?

    Legislations and player tracking need improvement. These are some of the biggest obstacles for the affiliates nowadays. Global brands should be allowed to operate in most countries around the world, players shouldn’t be checking every casino’s restricted country list and see if their country is among other 50 which are not allowed. And tracking, we need more options to ensure that players are tracked correctly. Operators, be innovative, offer your affiliates something like special freebies/invitation cards which they could give out and invite players offline.

    How has the COVID-19 affected you both personally and professionally?

    Not too much, but I hope that it won’t last for too long.

    What do you do to stay in shape – both physically and mentally?

    I normally go to the gym very often, right now during coronavirus, I do daily exercises at home.

    If someone from out of town were visiting you, what’s the one place you'd definitely take them to see?

    In Lithuania – Nida, the most beautiful town in the country.
    In Malta, places like Comino Island, St Peter’s Pool in Marsaxlokk and others.

    If you were stranded on a desert island, what three items would you take with you and why?

    Pocket knife/tool set which has matches, magnifying glass etc., a machete and a satellite phone. Should be very useful.

    If you could invite any five people, living or dead, to dinner, who would they be?

    Flula (Borg), Mike Thurston, Van Damme, Scott Adkins and can’t think of a 5th, I would invite one of my own friends.

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

    1. I have never blown a bubble gum in my life.
    2. I am a total cat person and I have fed many stray cats, plus donated thousands of euros in order to support smaller shelters when they urgently need medicine, food and operations.
    3. My record of not breathing under water is 2 minutes 45 seconds (could have probably stayed till 3 minutes once). I always try it with supervision, don't take anything extra (like oxygen) and don't risk it too much. The fact that I never smoked in my life is quite helpful.

  2. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to GPWA Daniel For This Useful Post:

    drifter8 (14 October 2020), GPWA Maria (16 October 2020), PokCas (14 October 2020)

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