Inside Casino attended the London Affiliate Conference (LAC) 2018 for a second year in a row. It is fair to say that a lot has happened since then… In this article, we lay out 5 things we learnt during our time at the conference that we hope will help players, operators and affiliates in the year to come.
1. Mobile First & Progressive Web Apps
Device migration is as prominent as ever – 70% of browsing time in the UK is now performed on mobile, and in other countries it is even higher than that.
Users have short attention spans when it comes to browsing on their mobile phones. They expect quick loading times and fast page speed and do not want to wait more than 3 seconds for a page to load.
Research has shown that having to wait a long time for a page to load causes an internal response of terror, akin to watching a horror movie.
Users like websites to have an App like feel, without going through all the hassle of downloading an app (or from the operator’s side, having to develop one.) “App-like feels,” is the term used by Nicola Stott, Managing Director of Erudite. It’s all about the set of features that a web page has; a fast, smooth, uncomplicated, and comforting interface.
2. New Slots & Old Developers
Even though the online slots market is rather saturated, some of the big hitters are losing some of their market share to up and coming slots developers.
Established businesses like NetEnt, Playtech, Scientific Games, Play’n Go, IGT and Microgaming are seeing their hegemony challenged by developers like Red Tiger, Yggdrasil and Thunderkick.
Casino operators are increasingly putting out their own content. Developing one’s own exclusive games is an excellent way to lower costs, as well as offer content that is unique to your brand. Pioneers of this include Nektan, 888/Dragonfish and mFortune, which exclusively offers its own games.
The shelf-life of new games tends to show a pretty consistent pattern. The game launches and peaks soon after. Then, there is the rather rapid decline, as he novelty wears off and more new slots are released.
Part of NetEnt’s slot success, as demonstrated by enduring classics like Starburst and Gonzo’s Quest, is their small, compact file sizes and their fast loading times.
Yggdrasil have taken a different approach in order to break in to the market. They are pioneers of the increased gamification of slots, where the end products resemble video games even more closely than ever. Yggdrasil slots may have slower loading times than NetEnt slots, but the graphics and the world design have reached a whole new level.
3. Affiliate Compliance
The last year has been particularly turbulent with regard to compliance in the online gaming industry so was a popular subject at LAC 2018. Perceived misleading terms and conditions have come under specific scrutiny from the Competition & Markets Authority. It is clear the industry must shape up. Expect sweeping changes in the way in which welcome bonuses are communicated by casino operators. Players may also expect the nature of those welcome bonuses to change in and of themselves.
A nugget for affiliates: Some affiliate programs have shut down in the past year as a way of mitigating any potential risk from rogue affiliates. Ian Sims, the CEO of Rightlander, has been speaking to operators to gauge the future of affiliate programmes. There has been some uncertainty as to whether programmes like Affiliate Hub, the SkyBet scheme, and others would ever reopen. According to Mr. Sims, these programmes do intend to reopen when times are more certain, due to the demands of competitions. However, he did stress that these programmes intend to only work with affiliates that they trust.
Bodies such as the iGAA, set up by Tag Media’s Tom Galanis, are a first step in affiliates having their own regulatory body. Membership of such an organization would help build such trust in a legitimate affiliate network.
4. Emerging Markets
Online gambling in emerging markets like South America and Africa, offers amazing opportunities for players, operators, and affiliates alike. Regulation is less tight than in other parts of the world and the market is not yet saturated, all of which was touched upon at LAC 2018.
Sportsbetting, especially soccer betting, is particularly popular in these parts of the world. In Africa, lottery, keno, and other number betting games are particularly popular.
Advice for Affiliates: If you fancy the challenge, there is opportunity to get involved in these areas. There is plenty of room for SEO and organic digital marketing growth. The volume is large and though player values may not be as high as in Europe, there is great brand loyalty.
In Brazil, and other parts of South America, social media campaigns are proven to be very effective marketing tools. Brazilians are far more likely to heed Facebook promotional material than customers in Europe. Therefore, launching a targeted Facebook campaign in these territories could be an excellent foothold in these emerging markets.
Likewise, affiliates should buy a local domain to establish themselves.
5. Christina Hammer: Boxing Legend
Inside Casino had the privilege of meeting Christina Hammer at LAC 2018, the undefeated German boxing WBO world champion. She has won all 22 fights that she has ever contested, including 10 of those by KO. Hammer was at LAC with her trainer to promote Lady Hammer Casino. She is, as you may imagine, the only female boxer to run her own online casino. Unfortunately, Lady Hammer is not open to UK customers as they do not hold a UK licence. But we hope that this will change in the future and we hope this extraordinary athlete will get the recognition she deserves here in the UK.
Final Thoughts: What’s Next?
LAC 2018 was an optimistic and uplifting event, despite what can only be described as a difficult year for the industry. There were plenty of instructive conversations about the future of the online gaming industry, as well as the affiliate business that drives so much traffic in that direction. There will, no doubt, be more regulatory and compliance obstacles in the way in the next 12 months. But it seems that operators and affiliates alike are committed to making it work.
Will we see an affiliate body like the iGAA come to widespread fruition? Will the UK Gambling Commission continue to focus their compliance ire on operators rather than affiliates? And will affiliate business be required to get a licence of some sort themselves from regulatory bodies?
These questions will no doubt unfold over time. And we look forward to returning to LAC next year, for another fabulous event. See you then.