Today we bring you a truly exclusive interview with a veteran/master of the iGaming industry! Dave Sawyer has a 16 year old background in the online gambling industry, including 3 years at Ladbrokes International as head of the IT Department. Sounds interesting, doesn’t it!?!
Without any further side details, we give you the interview with Dave Sawyer.
GAV: Dave, we would like to thank you for the opportunity to interview such a highly appreciated professional of the industry. Could you fill out the short form below so our readers can imagine your profile?
Name: Dave Sawyer
Living in: Trowbridge
Favorite Food: Italian
Profession/Job title: Company Director
GAV: Hello Dave, first of all tell us and our readers a little bit about yourself. How did your career start in the online gambling industry? What was the key idea of developing this great online gambling casino guide/community ?
DS: My career in the iGaming Industry started way back at the beginning of October 2000, when I started work for Ladbrokes out in Gibraltar. The week of my start date with Ladbrokes also coincided with the launch of their Online Casino product. Back then the Ladbrokes International Offices were responsible for their telephone betting call centre, online sports book, online casino and then hosted other iGaming products such as Poker, Games etc over the forthcoming years.
During the 2001 Budget, UK betting shop tax duty was scrapped in a deal with the major UK bookmakers who had facilities offshore. Hence as part of the deal we went from a staff of over 200 in Gibraltar to less than 20, once the Call Centre and support staff were relocated to the UK. As I was part of the IT Team, I was kept on, as the casino and subsequently online poker sites were still to be hosted on the Rock.
Soon afterwards both my Managing Director (Ed Ware now CEO of 32Red) at Ladbrokes and the IT Controller (Graham Campbell – Founding Director of 32Red) left. I was then subsequently appointed the IT Services Manager for the Ladbrokes Gibraltar IT Department. It was Graham’s idea for me to enter the affiliate sector in 2003, as at the time he and Ed along with a few others had set up 32Red.com in April 2002. I had been running a pretty active political forum, which was receiving good exposure in the search engines, in particular Google. So eventually after much persuasion from Graham I bit the bullet and in August 2004 I registered the domain name OnlineCasinoReviewer.com. It took about 9 months before the site started to generate revenue or receive exposure in Google search – this was during the time when new sites would be placed in the dreaded ‘Sandbox’. But by June 2005, I decided to take the plunge and work on the site full time, handing in my resignation in June 2005. Leaving Ladbrokes at the end of August 2005, after serving a 3 month notice period and after working for them for nearly 5 years.
As a player as well as an affiliate, I offer our visitors the information that I as player need, to make an informed decision as to where to play at online. Having had nearly 5 years experience working for an iGaming Operator in the form of Ladbrokes, I am also able to offer my own views, opinions and advice from my own unique perspective. Online Casino Reviewer is not a directory, meaning it does not list every single site available to play at online. Indeed, currently there are only 29 recommended casinos on the site. With each one I have personally played at and experienced.
In short, OCR is a resource for players written by players.
GAV: Since there are thousands and thousands of websites in your niche out there, where do you think Onlinecasinoreviewer.com stands now?
DS: Unlike the majority of ‘affiliate’ sites targeting the online casino space, OCR as mentioned above is a resource for players, written by players. Instead of the general reviews of casinos and games found on the majority of sites, which sugar coat everything, the real pitfalls of any of the properties featured on OCR are spelled out. This in addition to our helpful guides such as on Reverse Withdrawals, Casino Bonuses, Fast Paying Casinos to name but three articles, allow players to make an informed choice before opening an account at online casino.
GAV: How do you see the online casino market/industry at this moment?
DS: This industry never ceases to amaze me and is still growing at a fast pace. The operators working in this space are some of the most innovative that you can find online. The potential for growth is still very real and this has seen an influx of ‘Super Affiliates’ enter the space and compete for a slice of the revenue available.
GAV: How did you start and most of all what bumps did you have to overcome at the beginning?
DS: As stated above, I was working at Ladbrokes in Gibraltar when I launched OCR. Thus had the luxury of a regular salary coming in before I started to earn revenue from the site. The main issue at the time was dealing with the dreaded ‘Google Sandbox’.
GAV: We have analyzed Onlinecasinoreviewer.com and found some great quality content. Are you writing it by yourself or do you have a team of people writing for you? How many reviews are there on your website? How about the news and the software categories, tell us a bit more about it?
DS: The vast majority of the content is written by myself. However, I have outsourced some of the slot game reviews to players who I know through my participation on the Casinomeister Forum.
GAV: How do you manage to keep the content fresh and relevant on your website, when a lot of fluffy and nonsense appear on the Internet on a daily basis?
DS: The key is to provide information that you as a player would want to read. Sugar coated reviews do not hold the visitors interest and as such visitors are more inclined to hit the back button on their browser.
GAV: Another thing that we like is your YouTube Channel, please be so kind and tell us more about it!
DS: When I redesigned OCR at the beginning of 2016, I realized video content is becoming more and more important. Hence our YouTube Channel was born. The purpose of the channel is to complement the site and also act as an independent resource in it’s own right. As well as videos of slot games in play, I also provide reviews of the casinos and cover various topics which I feel are important for players. Such as the dreaded ‘Reverse Withdrawals’ which many online casinos employ. After watching our Reverse Withdrawal Video, you will realize I am not a fan! In addition I also provide videos relating to my experiences as a webmaster, a fairly popular set of videos was when I detailed what happened to OCR after I implemented SSL on the site and the brief drop in rankings in google that occurred as a result.
GAV: We are pretty sure that you receive messages from Affiliate Managers on a daily basis showcasing their best products. You of course select them by the brands they work with; but what are your thoughts on how a real Affiliate Manager-Affiliate relationship should be built?
DS: The good relationships in my view are those which leave you to get on with your day to day job running your sites, rather than being badgered and pestered for what seems like every five minutes. I am lucky to have built up a good relationship with all the affiliate managers representing the online casinos we work with.
GAV: How do you see the future of the online casino/gambling industry? For instance, will it become a truly global phenomenon?
DS: I believe it already is. Obviously there are barriers such as individual countries regulation. There are also areas such as Asia and South America which has vast potential. The key is resolving issues with payment processors, so players in those territories are able to fund and withdraw from their accounts without any big issues.
GAV: Tell us one change that you want to see in the online casino affiliate ecosystem?!
DS: More transparency. Although how that is achieved is the big issue. As affiliates we are blind with regards the stats generated by the players we refer. Ideally it would be good to have an independent body that can go in and audit the affiliate programs. As it stands there are only a couple of programs I can trust 100% and one of them was set up by a very good friend of mine, with the CEO being my former MD ( 32Red ). I hate to even begin to think how much has been ‘shaved’ off our earnings over the past 13 years.
GAV: Do you have any advise you would like to offer and share with the newbies who are looking to venture into this great industry!?
DS: This is not a get rich quick scheme. Particularly so now, with many venture capitalists joining the affiliate space. If you provide good content and are passionate about playing at casinos online, you should have a chance of making a success of your site. You also need to see what players want. Join a players forum such as Casinomeister and also if you can, attend one of the many affiliate conferences which are held throughout the year. Networking with your peers is crucial as you can then build great relationships with other webmasters. In turn helping each other out. Whether it be advise, or exchanging links.
GAV: Do you attend any iGaming/online casino conferences? If so, which one is your favorite and what is your most fun experience?
DS: My favourite of all time used to be the Casino Affiliate Convention held in Amsterdam. I got engaged to my wife during the 2006 conference and I also spoke on the end of session Beer Forum Panel in 2007. Plus the small memory of escaping the Ash Cloud affected conference of 2011. That was fun. Getting a train with Alex Pratt of iGaming Business, from Amsterdam to Dunkirk. Then the ferry back to Dover courtesy of Wael – An affiliate manager from the casino Box24.
I’ve also spoken at LAC back in 2011, where I was on panel with Michael Corfman from CasinoCity and JTodd of the APCW. I would consider going to a Vegas conference, but I am worried I would literally lose my shirt! So as of yet I still am to make the trip there.
GAV: How did you see this year’s edition of ICE compared to previous years? Did you attend LAC (London Affiliate Conference) as well?
DS: I only attended the ICE and also the annual Casinomeister Meet. I have produced a couple of videos covering both. 2 nights in London is enough for me. The ICE just continues to get bigger every year. Back in 2006 which was the first ICE I attended, iGaming was only afforded a small area of space at Earls Court. Now the stands for iGaming rival the space afforded to their land based cousin.
GAV: What do you think the chances are for Eastern Europe to become a potential gaming hotspot in the future? Where do you think the region must improve upon?
DS: Again, I believe this is another lucrative market and whilst in the past there have been issues with fraudulent player activity, it does seem to be an area for potential growth.
GAV: Where would you like to travel in Eastern Europe?
DS: Funnily enough I have always wanted to go to Russia. But, I won’t be going there for the World Cup in 2018!
GAV: Where you wouldn’t want to travel in Eastern Europe?
DS: I like travelling, so I’m quite adventurous. There is honestly no where I wouldn’t go if provided the opportunity.
GAV: How about a favorite celebrity, do you have one?
DS: To be honest, no I don’t.
GAV: Do you have a favorite quoute?
DS: It is what it is.
GAV: Tell us your opinion about the Gambling Affiliate Voice?
DS: A good resource for webmasters in the industry. Well worth bookmarking.
If you would like to suggest subjects for future interviews, be sure to send your suggestions to: [email protected] .
We’ve been contacted by Dirk Pillow, who has been working in the iGaming Industry since 2013 as a SportsBook Trader, and currently following an academic course (Higher Diploma in Marketing and Sales Management) at The University of Malta.
As part of his dissertation, he needs to carry out some tests and would greatly appreciate if you could spare 5 minutes of your precious time to fill in and complete this survey. It will not take any longer, wanna bet on it 😉
The results of the survey will give Dirk and also to all of us a better understanding of the affiliates perception towards Online Gambling Brands and the decision process you go through when selecting an affiliate program.
Your participation in the survey is completely voluntary and all of your responses will be kept confidential.
Exclusive Interview with Christoph C. Cemper Founder & CEO of LinkResearchTools and Link Detox
We are very honored to have had the chance to interview one of the most well know Link Building Experts and SEO gurus Christoph C. Cemper. Christoph is Founder & CEO of LinkResearchTools and Link Detox.
GAV: First of all thanks for taking the time for the interview Christoph, we know you must be busy! Please be so kind and introduce yourself in one sentence!
Christoph C. Cemper: I’m an online marketing enthusiast, CEO, and Founder of LinkResearchTools and Link Detox doing links and SEO since 2003.
GAV: Could you fill out the short form below so our readers can imagine your profile?
Name: Christoph C. Cemper
Living in: Vienna
Favorite Food: Vietnamese
Must Read Book: The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss
GAV: Tell us a bit about yourself, we want to know who Christoph Cemper is, the main person behind LinkResearchTools (LRT) and Link Detox. Where were you born? What was your first experience with the SEO world?
Christoph C. Cemper: I was born in Vienna and started a marketing blog in 2004. I started getting requests from people who wanted to have a link from my blog. They were ready to pay for it. That was the point when I started doing SEO and link building. I built links for years, then built more links, and managed a ton of affiliate sites since 2004.
In 2009, I decided to switch from the link building agency business to a SaaS business. And that’s the point when LinkResearchTools (LRT) was born.
GAV: We would like to know how you got started with LRT, what was the main idea/inspiration and how was the developing process?
Christoph C. Cemper: The LinkResearchTools (LRT) and Link Detox (DTOX) projects started in February 2009 at the VIP conference in SEO de Janeiro, and I can honestly say that what happened in Rio changed my business life. While sitting around in the conference venue, I discussed all sorts of SEO tricks, link pyramids, and other things with the other attendees and I showed them my own “Link Research Tool” on my notebook. This was a tool built by two part-time developers as an internal tool to help me and my team of link builders.
The tool wasn’t even close to what we have today. But the guys were all excited and couldn’t stop looking at the link data with me. They all said: “Wow, you should build a product, I would like to buy it!”
And that’s what I did.
GAV: After the first Google Penguin Update back in 2012 you launched Link Detox, a backlink audit and link risk management software, tell us about it!
Christoph C. Cemper: That’s right. Soon after Google’s first Penguin update, I created the solution for the penalties that came with Google’s algorithmic change. Link Detox soon became the industry standard for link audit and link risk management. Thousands of webmasters used it to recover their rankings. SEOs all around the world still use it to protect their websites. The great thing about Link Detox is that it works for both algorithmic penalties and Manual Actions for unnatural links pointing to your website. We’ve seen websites recover in as little as 3 days.
GAV: Do you have any new projects coming up?
Christoph C. Cemper: We’ll soon bring our customers a whole new way of looking at their backlink profile, full access to the “Canonical’ed links,” full access to a highly-effective 25th link data source to *all* new LinkResearchTools Superheros and up, and amazing updates for our browser extensions.
GAV: We know you attend affiliate conferences such as LAC and BAC as a speaker, which one is your favorite and what is your most fun experience?
Christoph C. Cemper: I enjoyed both conferences. The organization was great, and I sure had a lot of fun. I especially enjoyed the BAC SEO Panel I participated in with Bastian Grimm, Fili Wiese, and Michael Caselli.
GAV: How do you see the present state of online gambling affiliation?
Christoph C. Cemper: There are certainly more online gambling affiliation programs than ever before. Now everyone can become an affiliate with the right training and the right mindset. A trend I noticed in the past year is that affiliates are using more social media platforms for promotion and I think that this is a growing trend in 2017.
GAV: Do you have clients from the online gambling industry, if so name at least two?
Christoph C. Cemper: Yes, we do have many clients from the online gambling industry. I can give you Mr. Green and Unibet as examples.
GAV: How do you see the future of the online gambling industry? For instance, will it become a truly global phenomenon shortly?
Christoph C. Cemper: The online gambling industry does have potential to become a global phenomenon.
GAV: What advice you would like to offer to the newbie SEO’s who are looking just starting?
Christoph C. Cemper: Every new SEO needs to have in mind that link risk management needs to be his top priority, alongside link building. Even Google said, “Ranking without links is really, really hard.” But these must be good links. Risky links can attract a penalty.
To make it short: a new SEO needs to focus on keeping the link detox risk low and build strong, niche-related, trustworthy links to boost the website’s rankings.
GAV: How about an advice for people who’re looking to venture into the online gambling industry as affiliates with a new website? What would you advise them?
Christoph C. Cemper: The same thing I’d advise anyone that has a new website:
- keep the link risk low by doing weekly link audits
- disavow risky links as often as necessary
- monitor incoming links
- compare the backlink profile to the ones of the competitors
- build Penguin-friendly links (here are 20 link building tips)
GAV: Where could we catch you in the near future as a speaker, do you have some upcoming events?
Christoph C. Cemper: I’ll be speaking at SMX Munich and Campixx in March, BrightonSEO in April and September, SEOkomm and OMX in November. You can always find an updated list of the events where you can meet me or hear me speak here: http://www.linkresearchtools.com/meet-us/.
GAV: Who is your favorite celebrity?
Christoph C. Cemper: Tim Ferris and Elon Musk.
GAV: Where would you like to travel in Eastern Europe, some part of the region maybe that you haven’t visited yet?
Christoph C. Cemper: I know and like Prague, Budapest and Bratislava. I’d gladly like to visit Warsaw and Moscow.
GAV: Where you wouldn’t want to travel in Eastern Europe?
Christoph C. Cemper: No idea.
GAV: What is your opinion about GAV (Gambling Affiliate Voice)?
Christoph C. Cemper: The Gambling Affiliate Voice is doing a great job at making the online gambling industry more transparent and easier to understand for everyone. A great place where fellow affiliates can share their views about online gambling and so much more.
If you would like to suggest subjects for future interviews, be sure to send your suggestions to: [email protected] .
Affiliate Interviews: Phil of ExclusiveBonus.co.uk and FootballMatchPreviews.com
We continue the Affiliate Interviews series, with another gambling affiliate rock star sharing his own story about his journey into this great industry. Today we catch up with Phil, founder of ExclusiveBonus.co.uk and FootballmatchPreviews.com.
GAV: Hi Phil, first of all thanks for your time and interest! Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did your career start in the industry? What was the main idea of developing this two great sites?
PHIL: Hi GAV. I’ve been in the affiliate gambling industry almost 10 years running a variety of sites. I started in the business doing some admin work for another gambling affiliate and decided to setup my own business with the aim of promoting online casinos and sportsbooks. I decided to develop Exclusive Bonus as a way of listing the best bonus, free bets and other promotions available. With Football Match Previews the aim is to provide good analysis of European football and free betting tips.
GAV: Since there are thousands and thousands of websites out there, and the market is quite ruff at this moment, where do you think exclusivebonus.co.uk and footballmatchpreviews.com stands now?
PHIL: It is difficult as you see sites topping the search engines that aren’t really anything more than glorified adverts. I’m really trying to do something a bit more independent and catered for gamblers. For instance with Exclusive Bonus I’m interested in exploring hidden offers and more obscure promotions. I like to list promos that are good for players, rather than just shamelessly promoting a brand who pays the most.
With Football Match Previews the commercial side is quite small and the user gets a lot of free quality football analysis without being over pressured with advertising.
GAV: How do you see the online casino industry at this moment? What about the football betting industry?
PHIL: In the UK sports betting has exploded which is what I’m more interested in. I started out in online casinos and at the time sports players were fairly worthless compared with casino players. For me at the moment my income is heavily geared towards sports. I find sports more interesting to write about. I think some online casino offers can be interesting, but I find welcome bonuses with impossible turn requirements a bit outdated and unfair on players.
GAV: How did you start and most of all what bumps did you have to overcome in the beginning?
PHIL: I was quite lucky when I was younger. I just handed my notice in at my job in a bank. Met a friend in a bar, got some admin work on a gambling site, started my own gambling site and in a year was making about four times what I made in a year.
The first year seems quite easy looking back. I think things have progressively got more difficult and competitive. So while I’m far more experienced, its not easy these days and much tougher to acquire players. The bumps you have to overcome are kind of inevitable. Main issues are really with the hard time gambling sites are given by search engines, PPC and social media. Also affiliate programs changing your deals is difficult. Generally I’m a big believer in perseverance. I have had multiple things go wrong, but enough goes right to balance that out.
GAV: We have closely analyzed Exclusivebonus.co.uk and Footballmatchpreviews.com!
On ExclusiveBonus.co.uk we found some great online casino reviews. Are you writing it by yourself or do you have a team of people writing for you? How many reviews are there on your website? How about the blog section, tell us a bit more about it?
PHIL: Sometimes I write myself, but generally I’ll outsource to a team of writers I have. I prefer the way I write as I know the industry well, but practically I don’t have the time to write as much as I would like. The blog is really where I list any offers that stand out. I find its difficult to know what each gambling firm is giving as promotions, so its nice to delve in and find the more unusual offers.
GAV: How about Football Match Previews, do you handle the site alone, let us know a bit more?!
PHIL: I have a writer who helps with the previews. I also have someone who helps with the tips. With this site I’m interested in something that is manageable to the user. We generally give two previews a week. Some of the main sites will preview every game and give hundreds of tips. Due to this in my opinion most free tips on these sites are pretty worthless. Its really a vehicle to promote bookmakers, which I’m sure works well, but I’m interested in having a small base of customers who appreciate the content you give for free and the advertising being secondary.
GAV: Do you find it hard to keep the content fresh and relevant on your websites, when a lot of fluffy and nonsense appear on the Internet non-stop?
PHIL: It can be hard as once you’ve written about a casino bonus it can get repetitive or listing yet another free bet. Fortunately a lot of gambling sites have got much more interesting in recent years with their promotions so this helps keep things fresh as every bookmaker is coming up with new and interesting things that you can write about.
GAV: We’re convinced that you receive messages from Affiliate Managers on a daily basis showcasing their best products. What are your thoughts on how a real Affiliate Manager-Affiliate relationship should be built?!?
PHIL: There is issues on both sides. Some affiliate managers can be hard to deal with or a little too pushy, but they are also under a lot of pressure to meet their targets and drive traffic. Generally I favour affiliate managers who have a long term outlook, rather than just what happens this month. A lot of problems with affiliate programs are with the terms, which are decisions usually made by management. I think changes terms and conditions does a lot of damage to a programs reputation.
GAV: How do you see the future of the online casino industry? For instance, will it become a truly global phenomenon? How about the football betting…?
PHIL: I imagine the US market will open up, which will make things more interesting with online casinos. Football is already huge, but you do have issues as a lot of bookmakers have restrictions on a lot of countries. If regulation was worked out better it improves things for affiliates as its presently difficult operating websites with a global reach, but restrictions on which countries that can actually fund your websites.
GAV: Tell us one change that you want to see in the online casino affiliate ecosystem and also in the tipster?!
PHIL: Affiliate programs need to think of the long term, some affiliates could be working for 50 years in this industry. Some protection for affiliates in the form of contracts would be better.
GAV: Do you have any advise you would like to offer for the newbies who are looking to venture into this great industry!?
PHIL: I think its tough, but I’ve seen new guys do things that explode that I thought would never work. There is always a way of doing things better. I’m not the smartest on social media, but some newer affiliates absolutely kill it. I think the best advise is just to keep going. Don’t expect to make money straight away, but with a good idea and a lot of work there is no reason why you can’t compete and make a living.
GAV: Do you attend any iGaming, sportsbetting/online casino conferences? If so, which one is your favorite and what is your most fun experience?
PHIL: Sometimes I do, just because its nice to meet affiliate managers face to face. I really enjoyed the Berlin Affiliate Conference, also London Affiliate Conference is always good.
GAV: What do you think the chances are for Eastern Europe to become a potential gaming hotspot in the near future? Where do you think the region must still improve upon?
PHIL: Its not something I have a great deal of knowledge about. I don’t see why not, mostly it will be down to the countries involved regulation. If the regulation is fair to the country and the gambling firms everyone should do well.
GAV: Where would you like to travel in Eastern Europe? Where you wouldn’t want to travel in Eastern Europe?
PHIL: Prague, as my grandfather was born there. My wife speaks Russian also, so Moscow or St. Petersburg would be cool. I probably wouldn’t want to go anywhere too remote, I like my wifi too much.
GAV: Do you have a favourite football player…?
PHIL: Eric Cantona.
GAV: Tell us your opinion about the Gambling Affiliate Voice?
PHIL: I think it’s a great site and I really like the ethos of giving affiliates a voice in a industry in which often the little guys aren’t really heard or giving a platform.
GAV: Thanks for your time and appreciation Phil. We wish you all the best and let us know if you have some news to share!
If you would like to suggest subjects for future interviews, make sure to send your suggestions to: [email protected] .
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