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    Default Being an operator vs having been an affiliate - Experiences so far

    Now that it has been 17 months after I changed sides from being an affiliate in the lottery market and launched my own product,
    So I thought I should post a quick summary of my experiences so far, and also talk about the performance of my own platform now, vs what was reported back to me by programs such as Lottoelite (Wintrillions) and TheLotter while I was their affiliate.

    1. FTDs generated:
    Over a period of 17 months, my affiliate websites (having had pretty consistent traffic numbers over the last 6 years) have provided close to 3 times more first time depositor for my platform, compared to what my reports from both abovementioned affiliate programs used to show.

    2. Revenues generated:
    Now that I have accumulated a significant customer base, I can say that the per-customer revenues are higher by a factor of 1.4, compared to the numbers from my former affiliate reports. After 17 months, I am now better off in terms of income than I was after sending appr. 2500 FTDs to Wintrillions over a period of 8 years.

    3. Player lifetime:
    It is still too early to really compare those numbers after only 17 months, but what I can see, player lifetime is definitely not worse.

    4. General:
    Having my own product was a total game changer for me. Motivation is on a different level, of course. Knowing that you cannot be cheated out of your earnings makes all the difference.

    5. Doing SEO for my own platform vs. SEO for my affiliate sites:
    It is much more efficient to do SEO for your own platform. First off, people tend to spend more time on a site that has an actual product vs. an affiliate site (unless you really, really have great content). Second advantage is that conversion rates from organic search traffic going to a sales platform are a lot better than conversion rates for traffic coming from affiliate sites.
    Of course, some of the focus shifts to brand building, but SEO is still the main factor for me in driving traffic, asides from the fact that I now have affiliates of my own .

    Downsides of affiliating

    You may remember that I posted about the Wintrillions affiliate program. After much protest from me, they actually admitting that they stole customers from me, but then they even went one step further and closed my account (which still generated revenue) after I refused to promote them any longer. I suggest everone be extremely careful with them.

    About TheLotter - my experience with them was not as bad, although I was never really happy with the results I saw from them. Conversion rates were low, and I was never able to generate enough income from them. I have to say that I only promoted them for app. 2 years though.

    Summary

    All in all, I can say that any affiliate generating a consistent flow of new clients for the programs he is promoting, should consider establishing his own product and becoming an operator. I am not denying that there is a risk to it, and for some the costs to set up a platform of their own may be (or may seem to be) prohibitive. But you should not dismiss it out of hand, especially since more and more programs have turned predatory lately.
    Last edited by RedFoxLotto; 4 May 2020 at 10:45 am.

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  3. #2
    wolfie is offline Private Member
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    Love this, thanks for the post. Would you say there are any downsides?

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    Quote Originally Posted by wolfie View Post
    Love this, thanks for the post. Would you say there are any downsides?
    From my point of view, there are certainly none. Knowing what I know now, my only regret is not having taken this step at least 3 years earlier.
    The only caveat is that when you make that step, you will have to expect that your income from affiliating will be lower for a while. But it depends, if you have been doing MGR mostly, your existing players with the affiliate programs will keep you afloat for a while. If you have been doing CPA, well then you might see a steep drop in income. But that should be obvious.

    Starting costs may be high. For example, if you were to set up a white label casino site and brand, setup fee would be at least $20k I guess. And the expenses for a license are high as well. If you set the platform up on a new domain, you need to invest in content and SEO as well. If you already have a nice brandable domain with good SERP results you'd be in much better shape.

    Depending on how many FTDs you can generate, it may take up to a year before your customer base is large enough for you cover your overheads. In my case, it took me 8 months.

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    wolfie is offline Private Member
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    Well, you seem to have made a very good decision, good on you! I can imagine when you make the transfer from casino affiliate to casino operator, costs are a lot higher, as is the competition.

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    First - Kudos. Not an easy step.

    However, i would say few things to consider:

    It's not something to consider unless you are generating high XXX FTDs per month.

    I am not familiar with the Lotto vertical - however the difference in retention between good casino brands and white labels are huge.
    Am i sure that if we could see our stats from the operator end we would see higher numbers? No doubt. Is it enough to compensate for lower level of product and higher costs? Not sure at all.
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    Hey Catfish, thank a lot for your insights and congratulations on your success!


    What do you think, how many FTD should one generate per month before considering starting his own white label (casino, not lotto)?


    Who is running customer support for your lotto website? Or have you been able to outsource everything, and just deliver leads to your new site?
    Do you have many employees or are you able to run this alone?
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    Quote Originally Posted by MMM View Post
    the difference in retention between good casino brands and white labels are huge.
    I am not sure about this anymore. Maybe something changed. Just my wild guess: consumers generally keep losing their loyalty and trust to brands.

    I do not understand why 22bet whitelabel for example is much better with retention than real brands. Add shaving, covid pausing, closing the accounts to the equation... IMO (no experience), whitelabel can beat nearly anyone, but the question is when they will rob whitelabels as affiliates. Robbing a whitelabel and affiliate is the same job.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sherlock View Post
    I am not sure about this anymore. Maybe something changed. Just my wild guess: consumers generally keep losing their loyalty and trust to brands.

    I do not understand why 22bet whitelabel for example is much better with retention than real brands. Add shaving, covid pausing, closing the accounts to the equation... IMO (no experience), whitelabel can beat nearly anyone, but the question is when they will rob whitelabels as affiliates. Robbing a whitelabel and affiliate is the same job.
    Robbing white label is a bit more difficult as first the owner has access to his all db. "robbing" him means trying to use the db to bring those players to another casino, but of course it's much less effective then just untagging existing players. Plus, fees and all that are exposed (as the owner can see deposits and all that in the system before they pass through the "fees blender". Of course still can be done, but on much lower scale.

    Regarding the level of retention: true, the level of retention is more visible in unregulated markets, however still exists.
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  12. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by wolfie View Post
    Well, you seem to have made a very good decision, good on you! I can imagine when you make the transfer from casino affiliate to casino operator, costs are a lot higher, as is the competition.
    I have not looked into that yet, but I would assume that for the casino vertical, this is correct.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MMM View Post
    It's not something to consider unless you are generating high XXX FTDs per month.

    I am not familiar with the Lotto vertical - however the difference in retention between good casino brands and white labels are huge.
    Am i sure that if we could see our stats from the operator end we would see higher numbers? No doubt. Is it enough to compensate for lower level of product and higher costs? Not sure at all.
    About number of FTDs: not a correct number. Think mid-high XX FTDs as a minimum. Mid-high XXX FDTs is my long-term goal.

    Retention is an issue, but from my experience in the lotto vertical, the difference between big brands and small whitelabel brands is not that big.

    In any case, as an affiliate, it took me 4 years to reach an income level of xxxx. My own platform got me to the same amount in 10 months.
    Last edited by RedFoxLotto; 5 May 2020 at 8:29 am.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MMM View Post
    Robbing white label is a bit more difficult as first the owner has access to his all db. "robbing" him means trying to use the db to bring those players to another casino, but of course it's much less effective then just untagging existing players. Plus, fees and all that are exposed (as the owner can see deposits and all that in the system before they pass through the "fees blender". Of course still can be done, but on much lower scale.
    Agree. Ideally, you'd want a whitelabel partner who does not run a brand of his own, but that is not always possible. Even if they said they don't, how could you be sure that site X is not secretely being run by the whitelabel?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Strider1973 View Post
    Hey Catfish, thank a lot for your insights and congratulations on your success!


    What do you think, how many FTD should one generate per month before considering starting his own white label (casino, not lotto)?


    Who is running customer support for your lotto website? Or have you been able to outsource everything, and just deliver leads to your new site?
    Do you have many employees or are you able to run this alone?
    Ha, somebody remembers my old handle ...

    I could not tell you about how many FTDs you'd need to generate to be successful as a casino operator. For lottery, see my earlier comment. I'd say numbers won't be that far apart between lottery and casino.

    Customer support is not really such a big deal. Mostly payment-related issues, ppl who don't read the FAQ. I mean buying lottery tickets is quite straightforward, and my platform is really good in terms of simplicity.

    Up until now, I am doing everything myself, as planned. I outsource translations, some content writing too. So far I am not overextended. But of course, as the business grows, I may have to get some help.

    If you are considering to make the same step in the casino area, feel free to contact me. Be glad to help with some more info.

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    @RedFoxLotto, congratulations on your success. Your feedback is excellent. The most revealing is the difference in your conversion rates and what you suspect of the affiliate programs removing your affiliates. Very good info.

    I would like to add a few details that I've experienced in a similair transition. About 10 years ago my affiliate sites brought in low XXX FTD per month in the live gaming niche. I also started a brand and expanded into being an operator. My experience was similiar in some ways. My role from affiliate to operator caused me to learn more about the operating side. Like yours, the move was profitible and helped maximize the value from my affiliate network. Looking back, I see having the original traffic source was key.

    Here are some of the challenges I found: (1) The customer service emails were not fun. Mostly cashier and bonus issues. (2) Banking was a hassle and a part time job in itself. (3) Increased work load ultimately distracted me from continuing with affiliate network support. (4) Managing affiliates was a mixed bag.

    Well done! Excellent.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RedFoxLotto View Post
    About number of FTDs: not a correct number. Think mid-high XX FTDs as a minimum. Mid-high XXX FDTs is my long-term goal.
    Maybe Lotto industry is different and competition between operators not high. In casino industry, unless you are into unregulated markets, launching white label in UK for example is just another fish in the sea. You might get few additional bonus seekers that go from one casino to another but that's it. And affiliates are not exactly standing in line to promote a new, unknown brand.

    Therefore considering the costs, i don't see how XX ftds can make it worth it. Again, maybe in Lotto it's easy to bring on affiliates and such but not in casino.

    Quote Originally Posted by RedFoxLotto View Post
    In any case, as an affiliate, it took me 4 years to reach an income level of xxxx. My own platform got me to the same amount in 10 months.
    Don't understand that comparison. It took you 4 years to generate affiliate traffic to earn XXXX and then you directed same traffic to your brand and made XXXX in 10 months? If that's what you meant then obviously it's natural as the traffic generating part is what takes time.

    (3) Increased work load ultimately distracted me from continuing with affiliate network support. (4) Managing affiliates was a mixed bag.
    That part is very important. You now handle both sides of the business and unless you are able to handle it well it might make you loose on both ends.
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    This has got to be one of the most useful posts I've seen on the forums in a long time.

    We chatted to a bunch of people at ICE last year about starting a white label and managed to get a bunch of corporate style info but it's useful knowing how the traffic actually translates.

    Couple of questions for you if you don't mind:

    1. Number of FTDs - Are you mainly attributing the increase in sign ups to decreased saturation (ie: no one would have an account with a brand new program) or are you thinking that it was down to leakage with the programs?

    2. The legal side - One thing we weren't really able to get a proper answer on was the legal ownership. Assuming you're running under their licenses (for the UK that also means them running your banking, or so it seems) do you have a solid contract in place recognising you as the owner of the accounts and could you take these players with you if you wanted to migrate to another platform?

    The thing that's concerns me are the stories of white labels just being shut down by the provider and whether that's just 'game over' or if you are able to hop platforms.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MMM View Post
    Don't understand that comparison. It took you 4 years to generate affiliate traffic to earn XXXX and then you directed same traffic to your brand and made XXXX in 10 months?
    What I meant was level of monthly income. But yes, of course building the traffic took a while. Actually. I reached a certain level of traffic after less than a year (I started in 2011, and there weren't many site related to online lottery out there at the time.) So in 2012 I reached a monthly income of xxxx, which increased nicely until 2015, when the guys from Lottoelite untracked my strongest players (down from 100% to 25% between that month and the next one). That is the timeline.

    Your doubts about nr. of FTDs needed may be warranted for the casino industry. All I can say is that I am not complaining, the move did work for me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by baldidiot View Post
    1. Number of FTDs - Are you mainly attributing the increase in sign ups to decreased saturation (ie: no one would have an account with a brand new program) or are you thinking that it was down to leakage with the programs?
    Definitely the increase is due to the previous leakage. As a matter of fact, at the same time when the stealing took place, the rate of sent traffic vs FTDs also went down. That, and the numbers going up since I was sending the same traffic to my own platform should be proof that they were stealing (which was even admitted in writing after a new director of affiliate program was brought in).
    Another program I started out with stole FTDs as well: first month I promoted them, xx FTDs, second month and after, only 30% of the first-month figure.
    Also, after a short while the platform domain started generating its own organic traffic. Guess the user signals are just better, also, you get natural backlinks, visitors returning etc, all good factors for SEO. Right now I am focussing almost 90% of my SEO work on the platform itself. Aff sites are still important, but it looks like they are ging to be more and more of a sideshow long term.

    Quote Originally Posted by baldidiot View Post
    2. The legal side - One thing we weren't really able to get a proper answer on was the legal ownership. Assuming you're running under their licenses (for the UK that also means them running your banking, or so it seems) do you have a solid contract in place recognising you as the owner of the accounts and could you take these players with you if you wanted to migrate to another platform?

    The thing that's concerns me are the stories of white labels just being shut down by the provider and whether that's just 'game over' or if you are able to hop platforms.
    Yes there is a contract covering all those issues. My domain, my brand, my accounts. I am not saying it was totally impossible for them to close me down and approach my players, but I have all player info and, most importantly, this business runs through direct sales mostly. Meaning players order tickets, then pay the invoice. Relatively little deposits sitting in the players accounts to steal. And the contract covers ownership of deposits as well.
    Last edited by RedFoxLotto; 5 May 2020 at 1:31 pm.

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    @baldidiot - I also went to every ICE to try and find a whitelabel that would work for me. Took me a while to find one.

    Many operators will not take an affiliate seriously, or have prohibitive conditions. Just think about it: Why would you ask a setup fee of 20k (for setting up a pre-existing system on a new domain, which is a 5 day job at best) and then 8% royalties if you believed the would-be operator was going to generate decent revenue?
    Wouldn't it make more sense to charge a lower setup fee but higher royalties? I think that most ppl who buy a whitelabel setup have no marketing plan, and the only way for the whitelabel to make money from them is from the setup fee.

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    I have been asked about license costs several times.
    Curacao app. $15k per year
    Malta, Gibraltar, Isle of Man: from €25k up.
    You'll also need an offshore company, which will cost app. €1500 to set up and app. €500-1000 p/year to maintain.

    And there's one more thing I want to add: PSPs are THE main problem, especially if you have a Curacao license. Good credit card acceptance rate is the main factor for your conversion rate. I severely underestimated this when I started out.

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    And one more thing: I currently cannot answer any PMs. It seems my account is limited to 4 PMs in 2880 minutes - no idea why

    Found an interesting article which answers some of the questions:
    https://www.igbaffiliate.com/article...e-label-casino

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