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  1. #1
    GPWA Dan is offline Former Staff Member
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    Default Affiliate Manager Interview Series | Rachel Morgan, Affvantage/TradaCasino

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    You've been the head of casino at TradaCasino for almost a year now. What drew you to this position, and how do you think things have gone over the last year?

    There were so many factors that seemed to just click into place for me when I was approached about the role at TradaCasino. TradaCasino was (and still is) a startup company which is relatively new to the market. It was really the excitement of a startup environment that grabbed my interest straight away, along with the responsibility of an entire business being on all our shoulders, relying on decisions we make on a daily basis.

    Location was another factor for me. I was living in Malta at the time, while my fiancée Marion was still living back in Dublin so we were traveling back and forth regularly. I had never planned to stay in Malta forever, but I was adamant that my return would have only been facilitated by the right job at the right time and I am over the moon that I found that.

    I believe we have created a world-class product. We base every decision we make on the best interests of both our players and our affiliates. Creating rewarding partnerships is what we're all about, and feedback from our partners so far has been really positive. With a blank canvas, we are dedicated to getting it right from the onset and since joining, I haven't looked back.

    You left the Dublin Institute of Technology to co-found Can you tell us about that site and what you learned in the launch process?

    In fact, I left college with only one semester to go before completing my degree and we started Betbidder. Betbidder was a penny auction site with a sporting twist. It was the brainchild of my father and some of his former colleagues. It may have seemed a little reckless at the time to walk away from school, especially having committed so long to the world of academia! When we talked through what would be involved in the running of the business I found that I had genuine interest, and I felt that it was something I would have a natural aptitude for. It was something that I would have always regretted had I not given it a go, and the experience was without a doubt the biggest learning curve of my life.

    We managed (without any experience in the industry) to design and launch the world's first sporting penny auction site and built up a very healthy customer base. Unfortunately, we underestimated the costs of running the business, and eventually it became clear that the overheads were becoming unsustainable without a significant investment of capital. We wound down after six months in operation, but the silver lining is that the experience introduced me to the gaming industry and I have no regrets that I took the chance.

    You also worked as a product manager with Boylegames and GVC/Sportingbet and as an account manager for NetEnt. What did you learn from your time as both an operator and a supplier?

    I arrived at Boylesports having never played at an online casino in my life, and my role was to manage the Boylegames product, so you can imagine how quickly I had to learn! It was a fantastic place to work and the role kick-started my passion for the iGaming industry. When I moved to the supplier side of the industry (NetEnt), my role focused on working with a number of clients, helping them maximize their revenues generated through the NetEnt portfolio. This process focused on building and maintaining a broad contact base within each account, from CEO to customer service, and this experience gave me an insight into the business that wouldn't be afforded to many. Working in conjunction with clients of all shapes and sizes (not literally!), the biggest lesson I took away was that one size doesn't fit all in the gaming world. Starting out with NetEnt, many of the clients I was assigned to were startup companies operating in varying markets to a diverse client base. I had to learn very quickly that different markets, with different unique selling points and different mantras, require totally different approaches and that players' needs are much more complex than I first thought.

    Explain your current role in relation to affiliates. How important are affiliates to the success of TradaCasino?

    As it stands right now, affiliates make up almost 50% of our traffic, which is a sizable source of revenue for any business. I am really proud of the ratings we have achieved, specifically at Casinomeister (#11 of 98, AskGamblers (#18 of 993) and ThePOGG (#3 of 79). They are, without a doubt, the most important marketing tool we have and a critical part of our business.

    With TradaCasino being new to the market, this was something I was keen to take ownership of myself. I am the point of contact for all affiliates. It's not something I managed in the past, but it's a part of my role that I am really enjoying. In fact, there is a thread in the GPWA forums called "Annoying things affiliate managers do" and I'm using it as my bible! I got to know some really great people so far and I'm looking forward to meeting everyone face-to-face at LAC this year for a beer.

    TradaCasino relaunched about a year ago after shutting down for a period of time. Can you explain why the casino was shut down, and what needed to be done to relaunch?

    We were on the Viaden platform, and unfortunately they pulled out of the market. This meant that we could no longer be a sub-licensee under their license.

    We had to find a new supplier and games providers, we brought support in-house, and we launched a new affiliate system (the Viaden affiliate system was also no longer available) and a new customer relationship management (CRM) system. Additional delays were brought on by the timing of the U.K. license requirements (which came at the worst time for us) while we were trying to prepare for our relaunch.

    How is the player experience different now compared to the experience before the relaunch?

    The player experience doesn't compare. The biggest change we made was bringing support in-house. Every staff member (including senior management) spends at least six hours on live chat each week, talking directly with the players. This insight helps all of us keep our ears to the ground and be more proactive in improving the player experience. In addition, we offer better content, better promotions and, most importantly, a completely transparent and fair gaming experience.

    In addition to relaunching the casino, the site launched a new affiliate program branded AffVantage. How have affiliates responded to the new program thus far?

    We brought all old players over from the Viaden system with them still being linked to the affiliates who connected them in the first place so they could keep earning commission on these players. We also had an introductory three-month period where we offered a gross revenue share of 40%. We have only had positive feedback as we treat our affiliates fairly. The new program allows our affiliates to see their player statistics in real-time, offers no negative carryover on commissions and most importantly, we pay within three working days of month-end!

    AffVantage recently became a GPWA Platinum Sponsor. Why do you feel it's important to support the GPWA? And how does a sponsorship help your organization?

    We believe we offer a new and exciting affiliate offering and we want to grow our base of trusted affiliates. What better place to start than the GPWA? Since joining, we have seen a huge spike in our affiliate activity. We have also been active on the forums and it's fantastic to have such a great level of interaction with our partners, not just "business" but there's a bit of fun to be had too.

    AffVantage offers affiliates a tiered revenue share from 25-35%, based on gross monthly revenue, with affiliates earning the highest commission tier they reach for all revenue that month and no negative carryover. Why did you settle on this commission plan?

    Our 25-35% tiered revenue structure is paid on our gross monthly revenue. We chose this structure in the interest of transparency and fairness. We don't deduct any fees from our payments (administration/banking/taxes, etc.) so our partners know that they will get paid every cent of their commission on time, in full, every single month.

    TradaCasino could have gone with a third-party affiliate provider when it relaunched, but you decided to go with your own, in-house program instead. What are the advantages of having an in-house affiliate program? Are there any disadvantages?

    Advantages: Real-time player data. Ability to pay affiliates within three working days of month-end. There is a lower cost associated with having our own software, so we can offer a better commission structure. In addition, the backend casino provider and the affiliate system come from the same supplier, so integration is a lot easier and better.
    Disadvantages: Affiliates are more familiar with the well-known providers like Income Access and NetRefer.

    How do you ensure that payments are sent out on time? And when do your payments go out?

    The data is available first thing on the first day of the month which gives us a good head start. We prioritize the settling of payments as we regard our affiliates as partners and want to treat them fairly. All partners are paid within three working days of month-end.

    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 does TradaCasino do to retain players sent by affiliates?

    At TradaCasino, we operate an in-depth, segmented retention program that recognizes that different players want to be rewarded in different ways. In addition, we offer cashback on every deposit for life. This system ensures our players are rewarded in real-time and don't have to wait around for comps or kickbacks. We also run regular promotion calendars — our recent Christmas Calendar proved to be a huge hit with our customers.

    Problem gambling is a serious issue for our industry. What does TradaCasino do to protect players that may have a gambling problem?

    As part of our licensing requirements (IOM and U.K.), we have implemented a range of protections for our players and this makes our player protection system even more robust. At TradaCasino, it is extremely easy to place restrictions on your account such as wager/deposit/loss limits, to self-exclude or indeed to close your account for life. One of the best things to come out of tightened industry regulation is the requirement for these systems to be in place.

    Describe your typical work day.

    At the moment we're extremely busy, so structure in my day is more of an aspiration than a reality! In the New Year we plan to expand our operations and take on some extra staff, which is really exciting. At the moment I would estimate that I'm spending half my day on various affiliate activities, with the other half dedicated to ongoing projects and general day-to-day operations. Skype is absolutely my communication tool of choice, in fact every day I'm sending fewer and fewer e-mails. I primarily use e-mail to communicate with our players and VIPs, and as the Trada staff all work in the same office most of our communications are face to face. In relation to affiliate communication, on a standard day I would estimate that I communicate with 8-10 partners, whether that be a phone call or a quick question on Skype.

    Describe the office culture at TradaCasino/AffVantage. If we were a fly on the wall, what are some of the topics of conversation we'd hear about at the water cooler?

    We're a small team here at TradaCasino and (thankfully!) we all get along extremely well. In fact, as I write this, we're preparing to hit the town for our Christmas party so no doubt there will be some sore heads in the morning. We have a rule here that we absolutely cannot talk about work at lunchtime, so the conversations you would overhear range from the latest episode of Game of Thrones to Donald Trump's latest outburst.

    What online gaming conference do you look forward to the most? And what's your best memory from an online gaming conference?

    Absolutely without a doubt it has to be ICE and LAC. My best memory was exhibiting with NetEnt last year, and the excitement building up to the big reveal of Guns 'N Roses.

    What do you wish you could change about the industry?

    The perception that the industry isn't well managed and that players are treated unfairly. While I know that this can sometimes be the case, I hope that between stricter regulation and more communication between players and casinos on forums such as Casinomeister that this perception will disappear in the future.

    Where do you think the industry will be in five years?

    Wow, it's hard to even imagine. The industry has changed at such a rapid pace over the last five years that it's hard to know where we will all be in 2020. The gaming experience will no doubt become much more immersive, and with increased gamification I think the world of online casinos will be opened up to a more diverse and varied customer base. It will take a lot of hard work and innovation for all the current players in the market to remain on the map in five years' time.

    You went to school in Dublin, and as you mentioned earlier, you recently moved back to Dublin. Did you grow up there as well? What's the best thing about living in Dublin?

    Yes I've lived in Dublin for most my life. Work brought me to Sligo in the northwest of Ireland for six months and also Malta, as I mentioned before. I would say that I grew up in Dublin but Marion might argue that the growing up never actually happened. I love Dublin and I always have. It's a vibrant, friendly, diverse, pocket-sized city with nothing too far away, and I love being close to family and friends again. My favorite thing? Hard to name just one, but there is a little restaurant called the Larder that does the most amazing ribeye steak.

    If someone from out of town were to visit you, where is the one place you would have to take them?

    The Larder is pretty small so I would send them elsewhere to make sure I get a table. I don't think you can beat Johnny Fox's for a pint, and sitting outside on a good day with live music is magical!

    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?

    Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia. An incredible read. Kindle all the way!

    What's your favorite movie?

    I plan to travel to Salzburg this weekend and one of my favorite movies is The Sound of Music. I am just so impressed that a nun understood the mechanics of an automobile. I can't even change a tire.

    What do you use for most of your Web surfing: A desktop computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone?

    In this line of work, you're pretty much always "on." It's impossible to quantify the amount of time spent on the phone. Is it more than the eight hours I spend on a laptop? Very possibly. As it's something I love, I don't mind at all.

    iPhone or Android?

    I would go with Newton and pick the Apple, but it's all relative.

    If you could go anywhere on vacation, where would you go?

    My family has an apartment in Calahonda in Spain, and I love getting away there for a break at least once a year. It's nice and chilled out with great food and wine in high supply. For something a little more exciting, though, you can't beat New York.

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

    First and foremost, Lady Colin Campbell. I recently watched her on "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!" and I think she's hilarious (as long as you stay on her good side!). Graham Norton for the laughs and Nigella Lawson to cook the food.

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

    I hope there are more than three things people won't know about me!
    1) I am a classically trained pianist, having spent 10 years learning the piano. If you ask me to prove this, I am more inclined to show you certificates rather than tickle some ivory.
    2) I am a sucker for Xbox and love a couple of hours spent on Call of Duty.
    3) I once slept outdoors, overnight, in the middle of winter just to get tickets to a U2 concert — and when I got to the counter they were sold out.

  2. #2
    TradaCasino's Avatar
    TradaCasino is offline Non-sponsor Affiliate Program
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    Thanks for the opportunity to interview guys!

    I really enjoyed it


  3. #3
    sweetbet's Avatar
    sweetbet is offline Public Member
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    Nice interview

  4. #4
    FruityJelena's Avatar
    FruityJelena is offline Former AM
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    Wow, so many questions Great interview, I like that you ask not only business-related questions!

  5. #5
    Miles_FTA's Avatar
    Miles_FTA is offline No longer with Fast Track
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    Ye really good interview well done

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