Ahead of our team heading across the Atlantic to last month’s iGB Live! conference in Amsterdam we developed an article for iGB Affiliate with an appropriately transatlantic focus. The piece discussed how affiliates can navigate the changing realities of iGaming in the UK and the US.
The old Latin proverb “fortune favours the bold” should be words for affiliates to live by in the brave new world of iGaming affiliate marketing. The US Supreme Court’s recent repeal of the federal Professional & Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) has concluded a momentous 12 months that have featured the launch of the first American state lottery affiliate programme, new Pennsylvanian iGaming and iLottery regulation as well as the UK market’s focus on regulatory compliance.
These developments have changed the nature of affiliate marketing in the online gambling space. From developing more transparent partnerships with UK operators to globalising their strategies to benefit from the diverse opportunities offered by the US market, affiliates bold enough to move with the times will own the future.
Transparency in the UK
It has been a year since the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)’s landmark July 2017 update, which emphasised operators’ responsibility for their affiliates’ marketing practices. The ASA subsequently censured various brands for the underhand tactics of a minority of their partners. While very few operators followed Sky Bet’s lead and closed their affiliate programmes, the majority made responsible and transparent affiliate marketing a core and ongoing focus.
When operators risk incurring significant fines from one ‘rogue’ affiliate, it’s understandable that they have responded by introducing compliance teams and tightening their affiliate programmes’ terms and conditions (T&Cs). Their overall approach now focuses on transparency: who exactly is the affiliate we’re partnering with, and how exactly will they promote our brand (site URLs, social media handles, media buy networks)?
In 2018, affiliates have to be fully transparent about their identities and businesses, proving their reputability and solvency. It is becoming standard for affiliates to provide UK-facing sportsbooks and casinos with national IDs that have been certified by a notary as well as certificates of incorporation and good standing before being approved to join a programme.
Once operators have vetted affiliates’ backgrounds, their programme’s T&Cs will request they are fully transparent about how they promote the brand, with the operator commonly approving all new affiliate approaches. It’s vital that affiliates are openly declaring their promotional channels. Operators are frequently using third-party software like Rightlander to verify where exactly their banners and links are appearing. Inaccurate disclosure can see affiliates suspended from a programme.
Of course, this signals a sea-change in iGaming affiliate marketing, as it nears its second decade. Gone are the days when affiliates could register for a programme with pseudonymous email and Skype accounts. The luxury of anonymity is no longer possible for affiliates – unless, that is, they want to sacrifice the luxury of revenue. Of course, there’s a danger that the new registration requirements will deter affiliates from registering for a programme.
In fact, affiliates should consider the new world of compliance as a window of opportunity. In relatively saturated markets like the UK, honest and transparent affiliates are being given a competitive advantage in the battle for traffic. It’s also likely that operators and regulators in continental Europe and elsewhere will increasingly model their approach to affiliate marketing on the channel’s British heartland.
What are your own thoughts on the UK market for affiliate marketing? Let us know in the comments section below and then read part 2.