- Let’s begin with some introductory details about yourself. How did you enter the gaming sector?
I first got in to the gaming sector back in 2012. I was working in a call center at the time in a very different role that I do now; I was in B2B sales.
I was looking online for some info on betting apps and couldn’t really find what I wanted so thought why not make a website about it. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing at first. I started out with a WordPress site and just began slowly adding content. From there I really got in to marketing and started to read up online, visiting forums, downloading online courses, and generally reading whatever I could get my hands on to further my knowledge.
1 website eventually grew to 2, then 3, then 4 and I ended up with 12 sites in total, all aimed at the UK market.
- Did your professional background in mobile communication industry help in the gaming sector? On this topic, how important do you think it is for a potential gaming entrepreneur to have hands-on experience some other unrelated field?
Yes I would say by background did help. I’ve always been a big fan of technology so this definitely made things a bit easier for the transition from sales to marketing. I have always been a bit of a tech geek and love apps, mobiles, tablets, computers and anything with a screen and buttons on.
I saw the potential in mobile betting very early and knew it was a good niche to get in to as apps were very much the thing of the moment back in 2012.
I wouldn’t say experience plays a massive role. I had absolutely no idea about marketing when I got in to the industry initially. I would say a desire to learn, innovate and try new things is a few must have traits if anyone wants to succeed. We all need to start somewhere. You also need a never say die attitude and a hunger to work, work and then work some more.
- What is the background of founding Apps4web Media? Enlighten our readers with some stories, please!
Apps4 web media is actually my 2nd iGaming company. I sold my first portfolio of sites in 2015 and had 2 years out of the industry due to a non-compete agreement.
As soon as I was allowed to work again I registered the company and immediately got to work. I really missed working on sites, going to conferences, and chatting with other people in the industry.
I actually couldn’t wait to get started again and registered the company at 12.01am the day my non-compete expired. I had always worked on my own in the past but this time I decided I wanted to put a small team together. I now have 5 full time employees and we work with several other companies as well for design needs.
As well as running our own sites, we also do link building and marketing for other iGaming companies. We work with some of the biggest companies in the world and its an area we are currently growing and recruiting for.
- For the uninitiated among our readers, could you describe the major services that Apps4web Media provides?
The main services that we offer is affiliate marketing. We have over 12 sites that we run, most are now in the US, but we also have sites for the UK, Spain, and Italy.
As well as content for our own sites, we also provide content for a lot of other affiliates as well, on top of the link building services that we do also.
- On to affiliate marketing now. The field is quite crowded, especially in the gaming sector. How do you manage to carve your niche amidst such tight competition?
The market is a lot more crowded than it was 8 years ago that’s for sure. When I first started out, there was only a handful of sites promoting in the niche I worked in so there wasn’t a lot of competition. Fast forward 8 years and the landscape is a lot different. There are some enormous iGaming companies now with hundreds of sites and staff that just fill and dominate the SERPS.
Standing out from the competition is not an easy thing. I have always been good at offering my own unique spin on content and topics. I look for areas that other sites don’t cover and try and offer genuine help and experience. The UK market is very saturated now and its extremely hard to launch and make a new site successful.
- What are the major revenue streams for Apps 4Web Media?
Our main revenue stream comes from the agreements with have from operators. In the UK this is through rev share, but in the US its all CPA agreements.
We are also doing well with our link building services. A lot of our clients we have worked with for several years and appreciate our timely service and professionalism.
- You started out in the UK and then entered the US market. How is it going in the US? Could you share some stats? In how many states are you licensed to operate now?
The US is such an exciting market to be in right now. It seems like every week there is a new state that has just legalized sports betting, or is just about to.
So far I am really happy with how things are going over there, but we can always do more. Our main site gamble-usa.com is our largest site and covers all the states, although it is still fairly new. The market is that diverse and you really need to almost treat each state as a separate country. What you can and can’t wager on varies from state to state and whilst sports betting is being legalized in most states, online casino and poker is only available in a handful.
The company is licensed in 6 states at the minute, those being New Jersey, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Colorado, and Michigan. We have an application pending with the Virginia lottery that we hope to have available soon.
Because of these big state by state differences, we have launched state specific sites in a few states. In Indiana for example, we have our gamble Indiana site and gamble Colorado for the Colorado betting market. Tennessee is the latest state we launched a state specific site with gamble Tenn but this is still very new.
There are also states like Iowa and Illinois where no license is required that we operate in. For Illinois we have another new state specific site called gamble Illinois, which again is pretty new. There just literally aren’t enough hours in the day to do as much as we want with the sites.
- What are the good, bad and ugly, if any, about doing business in the USA?
The good is definitely the speed at which the market is moving. The US has a population of over 330 million people and they are nearly all sports mad. The legalization of sports betting only come back in to effect in 2018 so the market is still brand new.
I would say the bad is that sports betting isn’t legal in all states. There are over 20 states now with some form of legal sports betting but these states aren’t all open to affiliates. Some only have in person sports betting, whilst others only have 1 operator that is run by the lottery. As more states open up it will get better and better.
The ugly would be the licensing process. I am not against licensing at all as I think it is a good way to regulate the market. My issue is as a UK business we have to jump through a lot of hoops in some states. No application is the same, they vary from state to state. NJ for example is very easy to do. PA was more complicated. Most states you need a registered business address so things take a bit longer than say the UK where anyone can be up and running in a few hours.
- We believe there are others who would be planning to enter the US gaming market in some form. What are the common mistakes that European gaming entrepreneurs could do well to avoid in the USA?
The market is so new in the US for both affiliates and operators so we are all learning and all making mistakes. My biggest piece of advice is don’t take too much on. Focus on one state as each state has different rules about what you can and cant bet on, and also what forms of gambling are available.
- With the arrival of vaccines, Covid-19 is slowly moving out of our daily lives. Looking back, was the outbreak a problem or an opportunity for gaming industry as a whole?
Our sites all focused on sports betting so we were affected quite badly. A lot of Affiliates and operators I have spoken to, whose main verticals were casino and poker, have actually come out having done very well. Most sport was stopped including football and horse racing which had a huge impact on the UK economy as a whole. The same thing happened in the US with sports shut down.
Thankfully things seem to be getting better now and hopefully we are near the end of this dreadful period that the whole world has gone through.
The pandemic may have actually sped up the legalization of sports in a lot of states in the US. Like everywhere, governments are looking for ways to recoup the money they have laid out during the pandemic and raising funds through taxes is a very good way of doing this. Several state have actually pushed forward with looking to legalize sports betting as they are relying on the tax benefits.
- Finally, what is your take on the role of automation and AI in the affiliate industry?
I’m always a tad skeptical about AI. I think it will definitely have its benefits to some industries but affiliate marketing, I am not so sure. I have seen content written by an AI that is very very good.
If Machine learning can be used to help spot and detect early problem gamblers then I am all for it in that respect.