Edward Ackins, CMO/Senior Member of MMT, joins the latest series of affiliate interviews on Affiliate Grand Slam
Edward Ackins and the rest of the team at MMT, focus on online crypto casinos; they specialise in bitcoin casinos and their flagship project is bitcoincasinotop.com. They believe that consistency, persistence, and faith in their new products is what makes their performance successful. They treat problems solely as opportunities for growth — follow his story below.
When and why did you start considering affiliate business as a career?
In 2018, after I understood that it’s possible to monetise something that brings me joy.
How did you first get into the affiliate space? And, were you always focused on the gaming space?
I used to attend digital marketing conferences and during one of them I’ve met some guys from the iGaming industry and started to puzzle out how does it work. Moreover, I am a poker fan who earlier worked in the offline gaming. Therefore, I was fairly focused on this niche and had a good experience.
From where did you start your affiliate business and how? How much were you willing to commit to it?
In 2016, I created my first own affiliate website in Fintech vertical. By the end of the year, I made my first profit on it and after that I switched to iGaming. Yes, I was ready for that (smiley).
How did your affiliate business take off? And, is iGaming your only vertical?
It’s always quite difficult to elaborate new projects in already established markets; however, it is really interesting. In terms of excitement, this process can be compared to casino games. The high competition motivated my team and I. iGaming is not the only vertical on which I am working; I also have projects in Fintech, Ecommerce, R&D, but the main course of the team is iGaming. Our flagship project is bitcoincasinotop.com. We believe that by using our experience and by focusing on the result in this niche, we can succeed.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when starting out?
- How to choose a partner properly.
- How to communicate with brands.
- How to track affiliate statistics correctly.
- How to set networking as correct as possible.
- What are the criteria for identifying experts in gambling and how to distinguish them from muggers and impostors.
What were your biggest challenges when first starting?
Recruiting and team training.
What’s been your biggest nightmare to date?
Search engine updates (smiley). Thanks to them, the state of indeterminacy never leaves you. Even if you are 100% sure that you are doing everything right, your website is always at risk.
How did you scale up your affiliate business?
Owing to new contacts; growth of crypto projects and new partnerships are highly correlated. New partners help you to go up and the rise of products helps you find new partnerships. It’s a vicious circle and it’s awesome.
What helps make your performance successful? What are the main challenges?
Consistency, persistence, and faith in a new product – those are the main factors and I think every businessman can confirm that. Employees are also important: a team of like-minded people is capable of working miracles. The main challenge is to not stop and not give up, treat problems solely as opportunities for growth.
What are the main challenges for the sector particularly during this pandemic?
The most important challenge in a pandemic is to learn how to adapt. Some of our employees couldn’t work from home, they couldn’t adapt, and as a result we had to part ways. In general, it made us stronger.
What motivates you to promote more, and what helps you boost your motivation?
I don’t need any additional motivation because I enjoy our project. I live it, and I can say that I am lucky because I do what I like. Moreover, we choose people who have the same mindset. Daniel Pink has a great quote on the same occasion: “If you need me to motivate you, I will not hire you”. I trully agree with him.
How is your company structured, and what aspect of business development are you currently focused on?
We have a relatively small and young team. The main squad holds 6 people: owner, marketer, chief editor, redactor’s assistant, programmer, and affiliate manager. On a part-time we employ 2 journalists, 5 gambling experts, and 2 financiers who are specialised in crypto. Together we cooperate well, we prepare in advance, and we work on improving the quality of the content which is useful for our audience, i.e. bitcoin casino lovers. That is what we are focused on.
How is your company, including the affiliate team structured? What aspect of business development are you currently focused on?
If we are talking specifically about affiliate tasks, they are mostly solved by our affiliate manager whose main goal is optimisation of work with current partners and constant search for new mutually beneficial partnerships. She truly has a big scope of tasks, as crypto reached it’s peak of popularity, same as the gambling niche in general (evidenced by a multitude of annual reports of gambling commissions in most of the states). We want to thank you for organising events in the format of iGathering – they are brilliant to start new relationships that lead to new partnerships.
Which markets do you focus on and do you see any potential in the emerging markets?
The main market we’re focusing on is Canada. We like this country, its gambling market is large; moreover, we have Canadians in our team who can define their needs and satisfy their intent.
Which markets are you targeting and why? Do you see any potential in the emerging markets?
If we talk about interesting markets, New Zealand is one of them.
Which markets are you eyeing up as a priority and why? Do you see any potential in the emerging markets?
The most perspective market is the USA. We strongly believe that as soon as the American market is legalised, in a few years it will lead the world’s gambling industry.
Which niches work best for your affiliate marketing, and which are the most profitable? How did you find your most profitable niche?
Depends on what you call niche. Let me explain it in the context of the bitcoin casinos we specialise in. Globally, the niche is online gambling, and the sub-niche is online casinos. In this case, we just chose a relatively small segment, which we understand best; i.e. online crypto casinos. That’s our focus in this huge niche.
Are you contemplating bringing in investors to scale or grow your business? Or, with such a big M&A market, have you ever contemplated selling the business?
I never thought about investors. I don’t like this model as it involves a lot of one-sided commitments, which can be very detrimental to the product in the long run. However, as for the sale, yes, it is possible. I think that when we succeed in our business, we will be open to such proposals.
Have you considered going down the operator route?
No, it doesn’t interest us. I saw this business from the inside and I can say that it is less creative than our work. Our main goal is not just to make money, but to create a community of crypto gamblers, develop it, help each participant, solve his problems, and share information. For us, this is much more than just a business.
How does technology play a part in your day-to-day?
Huge. Nowadays, everything that is around us is based on technology. Most casinos are working online. The most popular currency is Bitcoin. Just think about how the technological ecosystem surrounds these 2 facts – security, blockchain, websites, hosting, internet marketing, external advertising, communications, casino software development, electronic payments, and much more.
Which emerging technologies like AI and big data will impact the affiliate industry in 2021 and beyond?
Currently, few people are using AI in gambling and this because it is difficult, time-consuming, and expensive. On the other hand, we are already gradually looking in this direction and are starting to train our personal AI since we strongly believe it is the future.
How do you manage relationships with multiple operators? What can operators do to increase support with affiliates?
Multitasking and sociability are our strengths. Therefore, we have no problems in working with multiple operators.
What are the benefits of attending large iGaming events, and what can they do better?
Attending iGaming conferences allows you to gain new knowledge in the niche, expand your understanding of global online gambling, gain new contacts, and build partnerships. Everything is already fine!
Have you ever been to SiGMA? SiGMA Europe, Africa, Asia, or Americas – which of these four expo shows would you likely book on your diary for 2021, COVID-19 permitting?
Yes, I have attended several SiGMA Europe events. I plan to visit Malta in 2021 and I hope that in 2022 the pandemic will allow our team to get to SiGMA Americas. It would be cool if all operators take part in the SiGMA conferences and organise meetings for personal acquaintance with their affiliates. It will help to do business easier.
Tell us a bit about yourself – after all, business is done with people, not just companies! Your hobbies, favourite book, favourite quote, whether you are into Gaming yourself, etc.
As I said above, my job is my hobby. I also love to play poker, chess, and basketball. My favorite book is Marketing Warfare by Jack Al Ries and Jack Trout. My favorite quote is by Peter Drucker, “the best way to predict the future is to create it”.
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SiGMA Americas Virtual 2021:
The SiGMA Americas Virtual show will run from the 13th to the 14th of September, 2021. Features include a fully interactive expo floor, networking chat rooms, and a high profile line up of panelists. Explore the agenda or check out who’s on the floor plan.