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    GPWA Daniel is offline GPWA Associate Editor
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    Default Affiliate Manager Interview Series - George Gerakanakis

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    (This interview was originally published in the February 2023 issue of the GPWA Times Magazine.)

    Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from and where did you grow up?
    I come from Crete, but I grew up in Athens. In the southern suburbs, in a district called Kallithea. It is one of the biggest districts in Athens and I still live there today.

    You got your start in the industry by working as a journalist before becoming an affiliate manager. Please tell us more about your days as a journalist and why you moved into the iGaming industry.
    Yes, that's right. I studied Communication and Media since my dream as a child was to work as a journalist. At school, I would take my pencil, stick the eraser to make a rudimentary microphone and play reporter, broadcasting the games.

    I started working in 2006 for a betting newspaper and very soon, I was working for the biggest sports paper. At the same time, I worked in radio and other publications until 2014.

    It's a fascinating profession. You get to know people, you talk to athletes, politicians, agents that you would otherwise never know. But it is also a very hard profession as I worked seven days a week, almost all day.

    A journalist's day starts in the morning. Maybe with an interview, or a story you must cover, then you must go to the office at noon and start putting down on paper all the stories and reports or interviews you have collected.

    I moved into the iGaming industry completely by accident. I had a friend and colleague, George, who called me one day and said he was opening a betting company in Greece, and asked if I wanted to come. “What am I going to do?” I replied. “You'll write”, he says, “and you'll do social media.” And I went. I started off timidly without knowing anything. I knew about sports betting and casino and what they were, of course, but it's a completely different world between the player and the operator.

    How has your experience as a journalist helped you in your current role as senior affiliate manager?
    The answer is simple: communication. The most important thing in journalism is communication. And it helped me develop that skill by meeting and talking to different people. The relationships you build at work are the most important thing.

    The same in my current role. Apart from the professional stuff, let's not forget that we are dealing with people, different people that you must reach out to and create relationships so that there is a smooth collaboration. Of course, now after so many years I can say that I am friends with the majority of my colleagues with infinite mutual respect.

    What is your typical day like at Novi Affiliates?
    My day starts at 8-9 in the morning. The first thing I do is check and answer my emails. Then my emails on Skype or another communication platform. Then I process the previous day's numbers, assign some extra responsibilities to the team, if there are any.

    The tasks are endless. From reporting, commercial agreements that need to be checked, communication with partners and support in whatever they need, and of course, preparing for future projects. But I enjoy it, you feel a freedom, a satisfaction when you close a new deal, when you see that your efforts are paying off.

    What are some things you know now about the iGaming industry that you wish you knew before becoming an affiliate manager?
    I firmly believe that what you learn on the job you can't learn at a university. If you don't see in practice how the system works, if you don't make mistakes, if you don't fail, you won't succeed later.

    The truth is that to this day I have never said to myself, "I wish I knew this from the beginning.” However, if I could pick one piece of knowledge prior to working as an affiliate manager, it would be programming. Basic stuff, of course, which will be needed later either for optimization or any integration. If I knew some concepts and some basic stuff from the beginning, it would have saved me a lot of time later on.

    Novi Affiliates brands offer both sports betting and casino games. Can you please tell us the differences between the two verticals when it comes to marketing, converting players and player retention?
    The advantage we have at Novibet, and by extension Novi Affiliates, is that we have our own proprietary platform. This means we are very flexible in incorporating new technologies that make the player experience amazing.

    We have formidable teams in both the casino and sportsbook who analyze market trends in depth and create high quality products.
    Of course, we are talking about two products with different profit margins, and their own peculiarities, so both in marketing, retention and acquisition, we treat each product individually and always according to the goal we want to achieve. The market you are targeting also plays an important role. Let's say the sports players in the U.K. are completely different from those in Mexico. Or casino players in Greece are divided into categories that play only fruit machines, only roulette or only blackjack, for example. Whereas let's say in Italy they go in to play casino and they start with fruit machines and end up playing baccarat.

    In terms of acquisition, we certainly see a higher volume of casino players, but at the end of the day a large percentage of them will also place a bet, or vice versa.

    Is there a lot of cross over between casino players and sports bettors and, if so, what should affiliates do in order to take advantage?
    My experience so far has shown me that if someone gambles, they will play both products at some point. The bettor who bets will definitely play slots or a little blackjack at some point. Few are the ones who choose only one product.

    What we do is to make sure that we provide choices and offers for all players. Even more personalized offers depending on the player's profile. What the affiliates must do for their part is create content for both products.

    How does Novi Affiliates help its partners position themselves to maximize profitability?
    We provide all the tools an affiliate needs to make a profit. The affiliate platform we use provides everything. We have ongoing support for everything the affiliate needs and, of course, our work doesn't end when we close the deal. In cooperation with the CRM department, we analyze players and focus on retention.

    What are the keys to a beneficial working relationship between an affiliate manager and an affiliate?
    The key to a good working relationship is honesty and consistency. The goal is to make a profit for both parties. So, I make sure to provide the affiliate with all the tools, continuous support and I expect professionalism and consistency in return.

    I hate ghosting. When someone disappears and doesn't answer you after a deal it automatically shows you the quality of their work. Things here are simple. We pay someone to bring us clients and promote our brand. So, I just expect him to do that. He expects to get paid, so I make sure I'm consistent in my payments.

    Do you gamble online and/or at land-based casinos?
    I used to play a lot of casino games (online). Slot machines, roulette, and blackjack. But then I slowly stopped. Now I will play minimal money in big events, usually in long markets and slots once a month just to pass the time.

    I also visit land-based casinos and treat it like an excursion. Either with friends or with my wife. We decide that we will spend say €20 to €30. We go for food, drinks, walk around and enjoy the atmosphere. We spend the amount we agreed and if we win, everything is better.

    It's all about setting limits. If someone realizes that they are being affected and stops having fun, then the best thing to do is to self-exclude themselves from everything and go on with their life in peace.

    You attend a number of industry conferences each year. What do you enjoy most about the conferences and what would your advice be to someone new in the industry for making the best use of their time when attending events?
    I enjoy the travel. Wherever it is — Malta, London, Amsterdam. It's also great to see your colleagues and spend some time with them. Especially when it's the first time you meet someone in person, the vibes are very positive. You really get to know a new person. You see his face; you recognize his voice and then when you talk to him again behind your computer screen it's completely different.

    There is no recipe for doing time management right. There will always be an unexpected event, someone will be late, you will be late for an appointment, another appointment will be booked extra, etc. The advice I have is to enjoy the conference, don't be shy about talking to strangers and smile. And wear sneakers. (Laughs).

    What are your hobbies? What takes up your time when you are not working?
    I love to travel with my wife when we have the chance. I have also played basketball every week in the journalists' league on a friend's team since 2017. Sometimes I watch movies or just play music. I know guitar and piano.

    What's your favorite movie of all time and why?
    My favorite movie of all time is Roman Polanski's The Pianist.

    It's the autobiography of Polish musician Roman Szpilman, and it's heartbreaking. When I first watched it, I clearly chose it because it was about the life of a pianist and I eventually discovered that the film is a hymn to the power of man and music to endure the horrors of war, leaving behind grey moments and giving room for a better life. It is the best example of when art becomes a weapon and leads to redemption.

    If someone from out of town came to visit you for 24 hours, where would you take them and why?
    The answer is the obvious one: Ancient Athens, of course. To the Acropolis and the surrounding area where you can see with your own eyes the history of democracy and ancient Greek civilization. And to my favorite pub for a couple of beers.

    If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be?
    Easy answer. One would be Elon Musk. The ancient Greek philosopher Socrates and Jimi Hendrix.

    Name one thing that people reading this magazine don't know about you.
    I recently had the greatest success of my life as I became the father of a boy.

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    It was a very interesting read and congratulations on the arrival of your son!

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    Quote Originally Posted by GPWA Daniel View Post
    How has your experience as a journalist helped you in your current role as senior affiliate manager?
    The answer is simple: communication. The most important thing in journalism is communication. And it helped me develop that skill by meeting and talking to different people. The relationships you build at work are the most important thing.

    The same in my current role. Apart from the professional stuff, let's not forget that we are dealing with people, different people that you must reach out to and create relationships so that there is a smooth collaboration. Of course, now after so many years I can say that I am friends with the majority of my colleagues with infinite mutual respect.
    I really enjoyed the interview. This quote is gold; many people in this industry forget that they are dealing with people, not numbers.

    And congratulations on the baby!

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    ocreditor (23 February 2023)

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    Thanks for the interview, good read!

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    Great read!
    Looking to buy or sell iGaming sites?
    Get in touch today!
    www.CasinosBroker.com
    WhatsApp: +40-757-953-988

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