During G2E Asia in Macau last week, we contributed an article to leading industry publication Asia Gaming Brief. Although the original article was published here, you can check out the full piece below.
Affiliate Marketing’s Role in the Evolution of Asian iGaming
Ongoing economic growth and the associated trend of rising internet usage makes Asia an important emerging market for online gambling. With other jurisdictions likely to soon join the Philippines in regulating iGaming, Asia could one day follow in the footsteps of the mature European market. As in Europe, affiliate marketing will play an integral role in Asian brands’ customer acquisition.
Asia’s Emerging iGaming Market
Over the last two decades Asia’s economy has enjoyed strong growth, and this trend is expected to continue. The GDP of countries in East Asia and the Pacific is projected to expand by 6.2% this year and at almost the same rate (6.1%) in 2018, according to the World Bank.
In this context, Asia’s increasing internet penetration comes as no surprise. Back in 2010, less than a quarter of adults (23%) in the Asia-Pacific region were online, according to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). However, last year regional internet usage had grown to 42%.
At present, Asia’s internet penetration certainly lags behind Europe, where eight out of 10 adults are online. Europe, though, signals Asia’s future – and not just in terms of rising internet usage. The diverse European online gambling market is also an indication of how Asian iGaming could evolve over the next decade.
The region already has a strong foundation for an iGaming market in the Philippines. With a nation of 103 million, the gaming regulator, the Philippine Amusement & Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), regulates local online casinos, sportsbooks and bingo brands. Since 2016, PAGCOR has also issued offshore licences to domestic brands with an international focus. With 35 PAGCOR offshore licenses already awarded and a further 78 under review, the country is establishing itself as a regional iGaming hub.
Regulation currently acts as a hurdle to iGaming brands in other Asian nations. However, there are signs that this could change. In March, Vietnam liberalized its stance on gambling, allowing its citizens to bet in various land-based casinos. While Hanoi’s new approach doesn’t yet extend to the online sphere, this could be the government’s next step.
The expansion of iGaming in Asia will also be driven, as it was in Europe, by the brands themselves and their digital marketing strategies in particular. In addition to SEO and effective short-term acquisition channels like PPC ads and digital media buys on high-traffic websites, savvy brands will also use affiliate marketing to acquire players. Today as much as 30% of European player acquisitions are driven by affiliates, according to Income Access.
Affiliate marketing is already playing a role in supporting Asian brands’ acquisition – and its importance will only grow, considering the channel’s cost-effectiveness. In contrast to paying for ad impressions with media buy deals or click-throughs in a PPC campaign, affiliate marketing means brands only pay affiliates for actual results – new-depositing players.
In addition, unlike high-traffic media sites, iGaming affiliates are expert at not only targeting gambling web traffic but also at converting it through sophisticated content-rich, user-friendly websites. Affiliate marketing’s established role in European acquisition means that Asian brands already have a multitude of seasoned affiliates with which to partner, many of whom are experienced at developing multilingual sites.
Even better, Asia is already on affiliates’ radar. In Income Access’ 2016 online survey of global affiliates, over a third of affiliates (37%) planned to promote an Asian brand in future. Those international affiliates who do venture into the Asian market will be increasingly joined by the region’s own affiliates, as internet penetration rises and as locals spend more time consuming content online rather than in print.
Just as Europe experienced, Asia will likely soon reach a digital tipping point: when the vast majority of citizens’ preferred entertainment medium is online. iGaming will be part of that shift and so, inevitably, will be affiliates.