For the annual London Affiliate Conference (LAC) in February we contributed an article to iGB Affiliate magazine. The piece advised affiliates on how they could embrace new tactics and channels to increase their revenue.

Essential reading for affiliate managers as well as affiliates themselves, the iGB Affiliate issue featuring the article is available here, though you can also read the full text below (the second and final part can be read here). 

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Like Chinese New Year, the iGaming affiliate year begins a few weeks later than 1st January. More specifically, the London Affiliate Conference in early February marks the unofficial start of the industry’s 2017.

As such, now is the perfect time for affiliates to update their marketing strategies for the year ahead. In today’s mature market, it’s vitally important to maximise conversions with a strategy based on the latest digital and content marketing trends, and which also takes advantage of the promotional opportunities of new verticals and markets.

From AMP & VSO to App Store Ads

A report from Hitwise last August revealed that an unprecedented 58% of Google searches were on mobile devices. Google’s algorithm updates had already pre-empted the smart phone and tablet tipping point, with the #Mobilegeddon update of April 2015 penalizing sites that weren’t mobile friendly.

The search giant’s mobile focus can be seen elsewhere. Last February, it launched the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project, allowing affiliates to develop mobile webpages that load up to 80% faster than conventional ones. Given that Akamai reveals that 19% of consumers will abandon a webpage if it takes more than 3 seconds to load, it’s essential from a user perspective for affiliates to redevelop their sites with AMP-certified pages. In addition, when the AMP ‘lightning bolt’ logo accompanies a site’s description in search results, it serves as another reason for a potential player to click through.

It also seems likely that AMP will soon play an even earlier role in the conversion funnel. Although AMP Lead Product Manager Rudy Galfi has denied that AMP certification is currently a ranking factor, it seems almost certain that it will soon become one. Savvy affiliates will therefore get ahead of the mobile search curve by obtaining AMP certification for their sites in 2017.

Also linked to the mobile shift, voice search using intelligent personal assistants such as Apple’s Siri and Google Voice Search will continue to rise this year. Currently, 20% of US searches on Android devices are made verbally rather than typed, according to Google. While Google Voice Search’s speech recognition word error rate is today as low as 8%, as this improves further, users are almost certain to prefer voice to conventional search.

How will the rise of voice search impact affiliates’ organic search strategies? Verbal search inquiries are typically more detailed than typed searches due to the respective effort involved. Effective voice search optimisation (VSO) requires answering the ‘what’, ‘who’, ‘where’, ‘when’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions that affiliates’ targeted users will ask rather than focusing on long-tail and especially short-tail keywords. “Siri, find me the best odds for the Queen Mother Champion Chase next month at Cheltenham” is not something a user would type, but which they would certainly ask their iPhone 7.

The very same iPhone user interested in a horse-racing punt will also search for apps within the App Store. If an affiliate’s VSO and SEO strategies don’t manage to convert the potential player, their app and App Store marketing might succeed where these approaches have failed. According to a recent Income Access survey, 10% of iGaming affiliates have apps, though this will likely rise following the recent news that App Store marketing is diversifying.

In October, Apple launched Search Ads for the US App Store, allowing developers to pay to promote their apps in search results. With the tech firm almost certain to roll out App Store advertising (ASA) in UK and European App Stores this year, regional affiliates with apps will soon have the App Store equivalent of PPC to complement their App Store Optimization (ASO).

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The second and final part of our iGB Affiliate article, which discusses content marketing and new market and vertical opportunities, is available here. Once you’ve read it, please share your own 2017 recommendations in the comments section below.