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    Default Affiliate Manager Interview Series: Sami Malka of BestPay Affiliates

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    Affiliate Supervisor

    Tel Aviv

    Favorite Sport:

    Preferred Pastimes:
    Short trips with my family

    Favorite TV Show:
    Jay Leno’s “The Tonight Show”

    Favorite Drink:

    You represent the Gold Rock Casino brand. What distinguishes Gold Rock Casino from other online casinos?
    Gold Rock is very warm place where the players can really make themselves at home. It starts with the personal contact with customer support but is also felt in the ongoing bonuses and overall atmosphere. We are here to provide entertainment, fun, and make our visitors feel comfortable and appreciated.

    Gold Rock Casino is powered by Rival software. What separates Rival from the rest of the software competition?

    I think nowadays everybody in the industry knows the answer to this by heart – innovation, innovation, innovation. Rival software is simply brilliant, both in design and game architecture. It’s the most entertaining and compelling casino software ever developed.

    What distinguishes your statistical reports from others on the market?
    The stats are really the last place where you should try to reinvent the wheel. When it comes to a partner who wants to know his or her bottom line, we need to provide the information in the most convenient and intuitive way. Here we take the conservative approach along with the best in the business.

    What other features will affiliates find at BestPay that they won’t find anywhere else?
    We maintain the highest standards, but if there’s anything a partner needs on top of that, we are always willing to accommodate.

    How does BestPay help affiliates localize their marketing efforts?

    The site is available in German, and a new version in Swedish as well as other languages will be added in the future. The software itself will be translated into more languages in the coming months, and of course we accept four different currencies. Marketing resources for different currencies and languages are also expected to come up shortly.

    What is the most rewarding aspect to being an affiliate manager?
    The industry itself is exciting and so are the people you meet. Other industries have kind of a square feel to them, but here there’s a higher energy level and people are more open and informal.

    Most of the affiliate managers we talk to say building trust with their affiliates is critical to success. How do you go about building trust with your affiliates?
    Of course, I agree with this. Building trust is a mutual and ongoing process, especially in our global industry where you need to bridge language barriers and different cultural mentalities. The rule of thumb here is never promise what you can’t deliver; always do everything you can to keep your promise.

    Besides trust, what are the keys to building successful relationships between affiliates and affiliate programs?
    I would say respect. In some cases the only connection you have with your affiliate partner is by email, and it’s very important to remember the person behind the words.

    What are three critical challenges facing affiliate programs right now? And how about three critical challenges that are facing affiliates?

    I think these challenges are the same for both affiliate programs and affiliates. The first is to hit new territories, both in terms of reaching new traffic and audiences as well as technologically. The market is crowded on both ends, and this is why I am so happy to work with a company like Rival that stands out and has something to offer to the non-traditional player, too. This is where the affiliates that work on SEO shine.

    The second challenge is to break the familiar cycle of creative marketing in our industry, as the customers become more jaded, sophisticated, and harder to impress. When it comes to affiliates this is where the personality of the individual who runs the forum, for example, kicks in and makes all the difference.

    The third and most crucial challenge is walking the fine line between good service and feasibility. Today’s players are tougher and more demanding, and while both casino managers and affiliates really want to pamper the customer, we have to function within the limits of feasibility. This delicate balance between keeping the player happy while looking out for the best interest and bottom line of the affiliate is our top priority.

    What's the most difficult part of your job?
    That would be working around time zone differences and the language barrier. The job can be pretty demanding in this respect. But although I can’t alter time, I find that a positive attitude is always stronger than language issues.

    Time (and email) management is one of the most important skills needed by both affiliate program managers and affiliates. What are your three top time management tips? What about e-mail management?
    I got good advice long ago: start the day with emails and stick with them until you take care of everything you can clear off on the spot. Then move to the emails that need more time, and only then move on to phone calls and other tasks.

    How did you get into the affiliate marketing business? What did you do beforehand?
    I have been in this business for two years now, after working in online marketing in the electronics field. The more I heard about affiliate work the more I liked it, and when I finally moved to gaming affiliation I knew I had found my niche.

    Did you gamble online, or gamble at all, before getting into the industry?

    I was a casual player, and I still play occasionally to keep my finger on the pulse of things. You have to remember what you love about your product in order to stay connected to the customer. I actually came across our software as a player first, which is why I’m very enthusiastic when promoting it.

    What are some things you know now that you wish you knew before you joined the business?
    I wish I knew of the business even earlier… lol. I think that everything you pick up along the way is valuable.

    What’s the first concert you attended in person? What kind of music do you like? What songs are on your iPod (or MP3 player)?
    My first big concert was of Depeche Mode back in the 80s. I flew to London just to see them and it was great. The music I loved as a teenager back then is still my favorite music now.

    What is the last book you read? Did you enjoy it? And if so, why?

    I really enjoyed The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, by Robin Sharma. It’s a good story that reminds you of what’s important in life.

    What is your favorite movie? And why?

    The first “Matrix” is my all-time favorite because the combination of the philosophy, the action, and the visual effects was really stunning and unforgettable.

    If you could have dinner with three other people, living or dead, who would they be and why?
    I would like to sit down with my favorite basketball player, Michael Jordan, whom I always dreamed of meeting in person. I’d like to meet Martin Luther King, Jr., because he changed the world, and we owe him for having invoked this new spirit that is taking over America and the world. And finally I would love to meet face to face the most beautiful and seductive woman who ever lived, Marilyn Monroe.

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

    Personally I would be happy to see an end to a law that criminalizes honest people who like playing online just because they live in the U.S. I think this law is condescending, and grown people are entitled to decide how to spend their time and money independently.

    How do you see the industry changing in 2009-2010?

    I think that we will see more interesting technological developments, with better graphics and more integration of casual games. In fact this is what I look forward to the most.

    Please describe your ideal day off.
    My ideal day will be a family barbecue, just having fun with my kids.

    If you were starring in a movie about your life, who would play your romantic interest?

    Penelope Cruz.

    What are three things that no one knows about you?

    Me? I’m an open book

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    Sam M. (7 June 2009)

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