Visan Khaniev: Why the quick Alpha Affiliates scale-up is a consequence of sustainable growth
Alpha Affiliates is scaling up on a rapid level having passed the 1 million active players mark last year. The company, launched in 2012, continues to expand its presence in the affiliate market, now collaborating with 10,000+ partners all over the world.
We spoke to COO Visan Khaniev about all things affiliate marketing, including expansion plans, the tightening of regulations, player favourites and top streamers, as well as the 10 brands driving its collaboration with over 10,000 global affiliate partners.
SBC: The gambling vertical is incredibly competitive, especially for advertisers. How do you handle the competition?
VK: We are a direct advertiser capable of doubling the number of brands while keeping the product quality and conversion rate top-notch. This gives us a full range of tools to evaluate and manage the quantity and quality of all sources of traffic.
What’s even more important, we can make any necessary adjustments to our projects. This way, it’s a lot easier to adapt to iGaming market turbulence.
However, we didn’t just double the number of brands in the Alpha network. We’re also scaling the company as a whole by adding more specialists to our team and participating in more iGaming events and meet-ups. In short, the increasing number of brands is a direct consequence of the company’s sustainable growth.
SBC: What is the goal from such a quick scale-up? After all, getting a substantial ROI from newly launched projects can take time?
VK: In general, upscale is an integral part of any company’s development. In particular, broadening the roster of offers creates new opportunities in markets where we were not present yet while strengthening our positions in existing ones.
Our team can test various approaches to pushing and retaining traffic in order to improve the general marketing strategy. Also, it’s simply easier for affiliates to promote a new brand which doesn’t have a large fanbase yet.
As for the return on investment, we don’t chase short-term profits to quickly absorb the costs of launching new products. Instead, Alpha sees its new projects as a part of the long-run plan of gaining a sustainable competitive advantage in the iGaming market.
SBC: How has the online gambling market changed over the past year?
VK: The most notorious trend is the tightening of iGaming legislation, from which advertisers, affiliates, and players suffer alike. Compliance with newly emerging restrictions obviously shapes our decisions, and not always in the way we want it.
For example, since 1 July 2021 Germany introduced a tax of 5.3% which is taken from every single bet. This is the first known precedent, as previously bets were never taxed – only deposits, turnover, and income. So, speaking of tough decisions, we had to transfer this tax to the players because otherwise our income would drop down multiple times.
Reinforcement of gambling legislation also manifests itself in the continuous updates to Google and Facebook advertising policies. It is more difficult now to launch a FB campaign, because algorithms affect your ad visibility and, subsequently, your traffic flow.
Legal restrictions aside, the past year was marked by ever-growing rivalry in the iGaming segment. Global pandemic caused a substantial influx of people looking to join the affiliate marketing niche. Simultaneously, there is no shortage of recently launched casinos and partner networks. As a result, we get an oversaturated market in which you have to maintain a strong brand presence.
However, on a large scale, these are all the same routine difficulties that we have faced before, and for which we have always found successful solutions.
SBC: Let’s talk traffic. What is good traffic for you in terms of payback? How much does the average user play?
VK: You have to consider the particular geo, the type of deal and the source of traffic to answer these questions with certainty.
For example, you don’t really have to worry about the payback with RevShare deals, while the CPA model requires a close analysis of traffic and user behavior at all times.
However, in general terms, a good payback period for us is 2-3 months, and in some cases it might extend to half a year or even more.
SBC: You now have 10 brands, what are the differences between them?
VK: First of all, the projects were designed differently to be promoted in different geos. Accordingly, some brands have a Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) licence, and some are licensed by eGaming Curacao to enter various local markets.
Secondly, there is a range of other characteristics that make brands stand out in different ways. Projects are built on different software platforms. They have varying sets of providers, currencies, payment options, bonuses and available tournaments. Also, some of our projects have a betting platform integrated.
SBC: What would you recommend to affiliates when it comes to launching new campaigns? Any markets you would highlight?
VK: There’re lots of geos where you can successfully push high-quality traffic – Austria would be a great example. However, it is always better to talk to your personal manager, who will suggest the most suitable brand based on your source of traffic, experience and other factors.
SBC: Is the problem of fraud in online gambling still relevant today?
VK: Yes, bonus abuse is a very prevalent problem in some geos. Also, some players are known to exploit vulnerabilities or errors of payment systems and casino software as well. We make all necessary actions to prevent and eliminate fraud from our projects.
SBC: What does your analysis tell you about the popularity of slots presented in your casinos? What are the players’ favourites at the current time?
VK: With several thousand slots in each casino, there is a lot of work in making a comprehensive analysis. We do our best to update the top games section with the slots that are played the most across all geos.
It’s safe to say that Pragmatic Play is one of the most popular providers. They have lots of hits like Wolf Gold, The Dog House and Sweet Bonanza. Their global Drops & Wins promo also enhances their popularity greatly. We can also mention slots by Platipus as the perfect fit for mid and low-rollers.
SBC: Streaming is also becoming a big part of the industry; are there any top casino streamers to follow?
VK: The number of daily viewers of the Slots category on Twitch fluctuates between 10 and 30 thousand people, which makes it a rather narrow niche in terms of viewership.
However, it is still a great source of entertainment and qualitative traffic as well. We can personally highlight Xposed, ROSHTEIN, Von Dice and Trainwreckstv as the most influential and fun-to-watch streamers right now.
SBC: We’ve mentioned payback and the current online casino player favourites; what can you tell us about the most recent record-breaking wins?
VK: From our perspective, large winnings are not as uncommon as people tend to think. For example, one player recently won €347k from just two spins – €203k on the first spin and €144k on the second one.
SBC: What are the plans for Alpha Affiliates in the near future?
VK: Right now, we are focused on further scaling of the company. We want to launch new projects with local licences and try out new software platforms. We are now actively expanding in Latin America, as one of the few markets where we are not yet present.
As for the nearest events, a new casino will go live in about a month. Also, after some experiments with integration of betting services on our casino platforms, we are planning to launch a project that is focused exclusively on betting.
SBC: Any words of encouragement for our reader to wrap this interview up?
VK: The world of iGaming is rapidly evolving, so there is no room for complacency – don’t rest on your laurels and always look for new approaches to organise your workflow. There are no constants in gambling!