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A guide to affiliate marketing for online casinos

Ayvar Gabidullin
November 14, 2023
13 min
20227

Online casinos and sportsbooks require large amounts of consistent traffic to build a loyal base of players. That’s where affiliate marketing comes in. Keep reading to learn how affiliate marketing works and why it’s an essential part of an online casino’s marketing strategy — as well as how Slotegrator’s Partnergrator solution can help operators make the most of their affiliate partnerships.

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a commonly used and highly effective performance-based marketing strategy.

So, how exactly does it work?

Long story short, individuals who create and publish web content, known as affiliates, promote their partner’s businesses on their websites. They earn a commission from this partnership for referring customers to those businesses.

In the gambling industry, an affiliate program is a marketing strategy that allows affiliates to earn commissions by promoting gambling providers. Affiliates are responsible for attracting potential players to the providers' websites using various marketing strategies, such as advertising on social networks or blogs.

When a player clicks on an affiliate's unique link and makes a deposit or bet, the affiliate receives a commission based on a pre-agreed payment plan. With the increasing popularity of online gambling and betting, affiliate programs have become an essential part of the industry's marketing landscape, offering a profitable scheme for both the platforms and their partners.

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Why do casinos work with affiliates?

Marketing and promotion are crucial for the success of online gambling platforms. To attract loyal players, online casinos need a steady flow of traffic, and affiliate marketing is the best place to get it — especially in markets where TV and radio ads face restrictions.

Casinos team up with affiliates primarily to acquire more players efficiently. Affiliates act as intermediaries, using various marketing techniques to attract potential players to casinos. This approach saves casinos money compared to traditional advertising, as affiliates are paid based on performance. For example, the affiliate might receive a percentage of a lifetime losses from players who convert, but nothing from those who don’t.

Affiliates operate through diverse marketing channels, reaching various audiences. They often have niche websites catering to specific interests, ensuring the traffic they direct is more likely to convert into active players.

Also, affiliates boost casinos' online visibility and brand reputation through quality content and backlinks. In a competitive industry, these partnerships help casinos stand out. Moreover, affiliate marketing offers transparency and measurability, allowing casinos to track performance metrics closely.

Gaming platforms also use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) marketing to boost their online presence. However, there's a significant difference between SEO and affiliate marketing when it comes to budgeting. Affiliate marketing is performance-based, allowing online casinos to pay only for proven strategies, making tracking and measuring effectiveness easy.

Prominent affiliate ads drive traffic, raise brand awareness, and build a casino's image. Even players who don't visit the site will recognize the brand, which is crucial in an era where brand recognition affects search engine rankings.

Types of affiliates

As you already know, an affiliate is a partner who helps increase website traffic and boost sales by placing links to a trading platform or any other platform in various sources to attract traffic.

Gambling affiliates typically have connections to the iGaming industry, such as being passionate casino enthusiasts, running gambling-related blogs, or even owning gambling businesses. In this case, possessing relevant knowledge and expertise is crucial in capturing players' attention and earning their trust. These factors ultimately lead to effective partnerships with successful outcomes.

There are several types of online gambling affiliates:

Streamers — Some players stream videos of themselves playing popular games, such as slots. Players who follow streamers on YouTube or Twitch develop a relationship with them through the gaming sessions they broadcast.

Bloggers — Many affiliates are bloggers who write about online gambling. They cover topics such as which casinos offer the best bonuses, new game releases, and other related subjects. Additionally, they provide reviews of casinos, assessing their overall quality and trustworthiness.

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Casino portals and review sites — Online casino portals serve as gateways to the world of online gambling and are often preferred as affiliate partners. Gamblers rely on these portals to access the latest news, reviews, and information about various types of bonuses. Additionally, these portals may offer forums for addressing concerns and can act as intermediaries in resolving conflicts between players and casinos. The versatility of casino portals is highly valued by players, making them valuable as affiliate partners.

Influencers – Online casino enthusiasts often have diverse interests, not limited to gambling-specific content, so collaborating with influencers from various domains can be an effective strategy to reach new potential players. Influencers from different backgrounds such as musicians, professional athletes, car enthusiasts, and other individuals with followers that overlap with the iGaming audience can become valuable affiliate partners when managed effectively.

However, be careful partnering with multiple affiliates who target the same audience. If their target demographics overlap, it can result in competition for traffic, which may impede your efforts rather than enhance them.

If they do not manage to find affiliate partnerships on their own, they join an affiliate network.

What is an affiliate network?

An affiliate network serves as a platform connecting affiliate marketers with businesses or advertisers. It acts as a central hub where affiliates can discover a variety of affiliate programs, access marketing materials, monitor their performance, and receive consolidated payments.

Generally, web publishers need to draw a certain level of traffic in order to be considered for an affiliate program, and they often gain followers by developing a solid, trustworthy reputation.

For advertisers, these networks facilitate payment distribution, assist in fraud prevention, and grant access to a larger pool of potential affiliates, management tools, tracking and reporting capabilities,.

Affiliates often join networks of publishers who promote the same or related products. In the context of online gambling, affiliate networks typically consist of online publishers who endorse various gambling products and services, such as online casinos and sportsbooks. Successful affiliates often specialize in a specific niche, while affiliate networks bring together a diverse range of niches and direct them toward promoting casinos.

Within these affiliate networks, members are given access to a catalog of products, enabling them to choose which ones they want to showcase on their websites. In the online gambling sector, affiliate members should carefully choose products that align most closely with their target audience.

Additionally, sometimes a casino or game developer will launch their own exclusive network of affiliates. However, this is typically only feasible for large, well-established brands.

What partnership models are there?

There are a few different ways that online gambling platforms compensate their affiliate partners.

  • Pay per click (PPC) — In the PPC model, the affiliate program rewards a member every time a user clicks on a link. Rewards for affiliates in this model can be on the lower side, as not all clicks lead to more meaningful actions on the part of the site visitor, such as filling in a contact form or making a deposit.
  • Cost per view (CPV) — CPV rewards are even lower than PPC rewards, as affiliates are paid when a user sees an ad, whether or not they actually click on it.
  • Pay per sale (PPS) — With the PPS model, affiliates are rewarded if the user who is brought to the website via the affiliate link actually purchases the advertised product or service. PPS rewards are some of the highest in the affiliate world.
  • Revenue share (Revshare) — With the revshare model, affiliates receive a portion of a player’s lifetime losses.
  • Cost per action (CPA) — The CPA model rewards affiliates every time players take a certain action, such as filling out a contact form or making a deposit and playing through it.
  • Hybrid — The hybrid model is a blend of the revshare and CPA models.
  • Sub-Affiliate Programs — Affiliates can also recruit sub-affiliates, earning a commission on the revenue generated by the players referred by their recruits. This multi-tiered approach can create a network of affiliates working to promote your platform.

The revshare, CPA, and hybrid models are the three most commonly used in the online gambling sector. We’ll take a closer look at each of them below.

Revshare

The revenue share (revshare) model enables affiliates to earn a portion of the losses incurred by players they refer to an online casino or sportsbook platform.

In online gaming partnerships, revenue share arrangements offer advantages and complexities. On the one hand, revshare aligns the interests of operators and affiliates. Since affiliates earn a percentage of player losses, they are motivated to refer high-quality, long-term players who will generate more revenue for the operator.

Typically, affiliates receive a percentage of revenue ranging from 20% to 45%. Seasoned affiliates usually receive higher percentages, while new affiliates start with a lower percentage and aim to increase it over time as they establish their track record.

Although they can be cost-effective in the long term, they introduce variable costs that fluctuate month to month, making financial planning challenging.

Quality control is also crucial as operators must oversee traffic and players referred by affiliates to prevent low-quality or fraudulent players from impacting profitability.

Plus, attracting and retaining affiliates often requires competitive commission rates, although this can reduce operator profits. Managing Revenue Share agreements can result in administrative overhead, including tracking player activity, commission calculations, and addressing affiliate inquiries or disputes.

While Revenue Share encourages affiliates to focus on player retention, operators must also invest in providing an engaging gaming experience to effectively retain players.

Casinos prefer the RevShare model because it guarantees payment for actual conversions, eliminating the uncertainty of blindly spending on marketing campaigns. Additionally, this model provides clarity on the performance of affiliates.

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CPA

In the CPA model, businesses pay affiliates each time a user performs a specific action on a web resource. These actions include completing a contact form, subscribing to an email newsletter, creating an account, or depositing. In the online gambling industry, CPA is often used as an abbreviation for cost per acquisition, meaning that affiliates are paid when a player signs up and makes a deposit.

Since the payment is one-time-only, affiliates are highly motivated to drive as much traffic as possible to the site. This is especially attractive for new casino owners who want to build a player base quickly.

Publishers offer various options to engage customers, such as contextual advertising, social networking, newsletters, teasers, pop-ups, and mobile applications. This allows businesses to choose the promotion channels that align with their goals.

However, it's important to note that iGaming operators must assess the quality of traffic and players referred by affiliates to ensure they are not acquiring low-quality, fraudulent, or incentivized traffic, which can harm their business in the long run.

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Hybrid

Hybrid models in iGaming offer an appealing combination of the revshare and CPA models. This provides operators with both immediate returns and long-term profitability.

By combining CPA and Revenue Share components, operators can diversify their affiliate partnerships, stimulate growth, and mitigate risks. Affiliates receive a one-time fee when the player first signs up, in addition to an ongoing commission throughout the player’s lifetime. The specific payment scheme may vary from program to program.

However, implementing the hybrid model also brings increased complexity and administrative challenges. To succeed with this model, operators must maintain a strong focus on quality control, affiliate negotiations, and effective management of affiliate relationships.

In an industry where flexibility and adaptability are key, the hybrid model offers a promising path to affiliate marketing success.

How to find an effective affiliate partnership

Finding the right affiliates for your iGaming business can be a challenging task. These steps will help you to identify and establish effective affiliate partnerships that will drive player acquisitions and boost revenue.

Step 1: Define Your Objectives

Before seeking affiliate partners, it is crucial to establish clear objectives for your affiliate program. Consider your goals, such as increasing player registrations, boosting player deposits, or expanding into specific markets. These objectives will guide your affiliate selection process.

Step 2: Create an Attractive Affiliate Program

An appealing affiliate program is key to attracting quality partners. Ensure that your program offers competitive commission rates, reliable tracking, and transparent reporting. Affiliates should see your program as a profitable and trustworthy opportunity.

Step 3: Identify Your Target Audience

Understand your target audience and player demographics. This knowledge will help you find affiliates whose content and marketing strategies align with your player base. For example, if your audience consists of sports enthusiasts, look for affiliates in the sports betting or other adjacent niches.

Step 4: Research Affiliate Networks

As mentioned before, affiliate networks have a pool of experienced affiliates and can help match your business with suitable partners.

Step 5: Evaluate Affiliate Candidates

When considering potential affiliates, conduct thorough evaluations to ensure they are a good fit for your brand. Consider the following:

  • Reputation: Check the affiliate's track record, industry reputation, and reviews from other iGaming operators they've worked with.
  • Content Quality: Review their website or content to ensure it aligns with your brand's image and values.
  • Traffic and Reach: Assess their website's traffic, social media presence, and audience engagement.
  • Compliance: Ensure that affiliates comply with local and international gambling regulations to avoid legal issues.

Step 6: Negotiate Terms and Agreements

Once you've identified suitable affiliates, negotiate terms and agreements. Discuss commission rates, payment schedules, and any unique terms that benefit both parties. It's essential to have a clear and mutually beneficial contract in place.

Step 7: Provide Marketing Resources

Empower your affiliates with marketing resources such as banners, landing pages, and promotional materials. Make it easy for them to promote your brand effectively.

Step 8: Monitor and Optimize

Continuous monitoring is vital to gauge affiliate performance. Use tracking tools and analytics to assess their impact on player acquisition and revenue. If an affiliate is underperforming, provide guidance and support or consider parting ways.

Step 9: Build Strong Relationships

Effective affiliate partnerships are built on trust and collaboration. Maintain open communication with your affiliates, address their concerns promptly, and recognize and reward top-performing partners.

How can Slotegrator help?

Trying to keep track of data from an affiliate program can be overwhelming for operators who are already busy running their online gambling platform. To assist them in managing their affiliates, Slotegrator offers Partnergrator, a solution for real-time affiliate program management and analysis. Partnergrator utilizes a unified protocol to process and segment event data for tracking and managing affiliate programs. This enables operators to measure affiliates' performance and make informed decisions regarding their partnership network.

Partnergrator is capable of integrating multiple affiliate systems, managing data, developing affiliate campaigns and marketing materials, creating commission models, and monitoring affiliates' performance, all through a user-friendly back office window. Contact us for a free consultation and discover how Partnergrator can help you increase traffic and revenues, allowing you to build a loyal player base.

You can also learn about modules and features of online casino turnkey platform in this article and find out how they can help manage and analyze data from your gambling project.

Ayvar Gabidullin
Ayvar Gabidullin
Business Development Manager
Ayvar has over five years of experience managing B2B and B2C sales departments in the online gambling industry. He started his career working in customer support for online casinos and grew to become the head of a department offering tailored services to VIP players. He joined Slotegrator with a strong focus on our company’s products and deep knowledge of what players need. His passion for the industry leads him to keep expanding his knowledge every day.

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