When it comes to expansion, two of iGaming’s more prominent regions are the United States and sub-Saharan Africa. Although distinct, there is commonality in that their respective frameworks and target audiences are both complex and diverse. With each comprised of many smaller jurisdictions, representing individual countries or states, the considerations of market-focused affiliate and operator stakeholders are many.
Both regions are recurring topics of conversation at industry events and in the iGaming media, as is the corresponding role of affiliate marketing. Here we consider some of the trends and developments explored at February’s iGB Affiliate London 2020, which featured panel discussions dedicated to each region.
“There’s no such thing as scalability when it comes to the US. It’s very tedious in the way that you really need to approach every state as an individual country. It’s way more complex than operating in Europe,” said CEO of Better Collective US Marc Pedersen during last month’s ‘It’s the Sportsbook, Stupid! Making Your Way in US iGaming’ panel at iGB Affiliate London.
Pedersen, who was joined by the Founder of iGaming Business Michael Caselli and Erica Anderson, Marketing Director at Paysafe’s Income Access, went on to describe the US market as one where, from an SEO perspective, each state acts as a sovereign nation unto itself. “It’s one Google but it’s 50 countries that you need to approach, and you need to target them individually and differently,” he said.
The momentum and growth behind the US sports betting market has proven relentless. Since that panel discussion, major industry announcements have included a partnership between William Hill and CBS Sports, the NFL allowing in-stadium betting lounges and sports betting sponsorships in regulated states, and news that sports betting is set to go live in Montana in time for the NCAA Division 1 basketball championship (aka March Madness), which begins on 17th March.
Pederson highlighted the fact that while the US presents unique challenges and opportunities for affiliates, there are still similarities to Europe in how they evaluate prospective partnerships.
“What you would be looking at is the same as what you’re doing in Europe – you’re picking the winners. You’re picking those brands that your audience appreciates,” said Pedersen. “So, you need to go in and assess the product. You need to go in and say ‘well, would I be giving my users a good experience, if I sent them on to this bookmaker?’”.
As Anderson points out, while there are consistencies in terms of quality control, the affiliate approach to player engagement is something that needs to be tailored specifically for the US market.
“What we’ve really seen across all affiliates is that the best ones are educating their players on how to actually play, as opposed to Europe where most people are very familiar with it and it’s all about the odds and the content,” she said. “That’s true in the US too but you really need to actually tell people how to play and where to play.”
For all the complexities of the US, there is a case that Africa, where the conversation focuses on separate countries, is even more intricate. It also presents a recurring challenge of educating interested parties, so they appreciate the existence of those nuances, even if not fully understanding each one individually.
CEO and Founder of AffiliateINSIDER Lee-Ann Johnstone explained one such nuance as part of the ‘Africaffiliates and the Continuing Rise of Mobile Gaming’ panel at iGB Affiliate London. “The way that you approach Africa is not plug and play. It’s not going to be doing the same things that you do [in Europe] in order to build communities,” she said. “It’s really about understanding the local community that you’re going to focus in.”
Johnstone was joined by STM Gaming Founder and CEO Alessandro Pizzolotto, Eazibet Africa Director Mark Tipping and panel chair Sarafina Wolde Gabriel, VP of Strategy at Income Access.
Much of the panel’s focus was aimed at the potential of more established African markets, such as South Africa, where bookmaker licenses are awarded at the provincial level. The role of experienced affiliates in educating both players and operators was also a key talking point.
Tipping explained the learning curve that exists for some operators when it comes to collecting information: “A lot of [African operators] are making the move from retail to online, so there’s a bit of a knowledge gap in even how tracking works and how you can do reporting on it.”
Pizzolotto echoed the importance of collaboration with operators: “You need to explain to them what you can bring to them and don’t be scared if you only get 20% revenue share, because the cost per acquisition is so low that you’re still going to make money. And as soon as they realise what you can do for them, that will increase.”
Enthusiasm towards iGaming in Africa can be partly evaluated by looking at the attention garnered in local media outlets. Considering the amount of education that still needs to take place, that growing awareness will be vital to any lasting success. Additionally, given the high rate of mobile penetration in Africa’s top iGaming markets, the growing presence of 5G networks in the region may have the capacity to further boost that potential.
While the defining characteristics of each region will necessitate different paths to sustained growth, a more interesting question is whether long-term market trends will present comparable optimism and upward trajectories.
For information on Income Access' affiliate marketing and digital marketing services, and how we can support your brand growth in emerging US and sub-Saharan markets, please reach out.