Our interview was conducted with Ben Starr from 15Marketing, on how he turned his Bingo Affiliate website into it's own Bingo Brand.
How did you get started in the Affiliate Sector?
Working for Herotech, I ran OnlineBingo.co.uk for 4 years from December 2005. During this time I really got a feeling for the sector and relished dealing with multiple operators. In December 2009, with Herotech firmly part of Cashcade and Cashcade recently acquired by Party Gaming, I left and set up my own portal, OhMyBingo.com. The site is more than an affiliate portal – offering a free bingo game and advertising on television.
When did you think it was the right time to start your own online bingo brand?
Straight from the outset of my own operation. Affiliates were getting a tough time, most notably from some major operators that reduced all deals to a meager 25%. This could have triggered an avalanche, with the affiliates at the bottom. As operators lean towards spending large amounts on television and cutting affiliate revenues because of the high top line figures, it was clear that being solely an affiliate in this market was more risky than having an online bingo brand too.
Despite the promise of lifetime revenues and the foundations of good relationships, it’s nice to have assets on both sides of the fence.
Why did you choose a solution as opposed to building your own?
As a marketer, I strongly believe that your software should be ‘outsourced’. It is all too easy to fall in love with your product and market it through rose-tinted glasses. With my marketing team, I am safe in the knowledge that my efforts are matched by my software provider Dragonfish and, hopefully, together we will build a better product than either of us could achieve singularly.
The attraction of lower royalties still exists, but I don’t believe there is a huge difference in the bottom line because of the build cost and maintenance.
How have you found the uptake since starting your own brand?
Interesting to say the least – with no historical player base and no television advertising, driving high quality players is tough. Having said that, the uptake has been reasonably positive, perhaps testament to the design of the site and the software it sits on. We launched in July, so our summer was probably tougher than most established bingo brands. We’re now heading into the Christmas period but I think we are well positioned to have a good start to 2011.
The uptake with affiliates has been predictably slow, with many choosing to remain focused on those brands that spend heavily on television.
What primary functions do you have to complete in the running of the brand, and what do you leave to the software provider Dragonfish?
We leave chat moderation, customer support and promotions to Dragonfish but, I believe, handle everything else. Acquisition, CRM and design are in our hands. I know that Dragonfish will also look after CRM and design, however we wanted to be slightly more hands-on.
Affiliate management is handled internally but we leave the payments to the software provider.
How have you found the return?
We have online bingo brands on 2 other software providers and the return on Dragonfish is far superior. They all launched at different times but the early return from Bingo Me Happy is well ahead of the curve. Dragonfish is such a popular solution with players and the familiar lobby and cashier do wonders.
There is an enhanced level of trust with this solution on every level – operators, affiliates and players.