Lauri Aro, Chief Operating Officer of Rodeo 77 Oü, joins the latest series of affiliate interviews on Affiliate Grand Slam
Lauri Aro, COO of Rodeo 77 Oü, and the rest of the team are focused on SEO, they strongly believe in honesty and transparency, and they choose to work with operators who are known to be trustworthy. Lauri Aro says that at the moment they are exactly where they need to be and with the people they need – follow his story below.
How did Rodeo 77 Oü take off? Is iGaming your only vertical?
Basically, we are a few people with background in iGaming and in 2018 we got together to form the company. Since then, iGaming has been our main vertical, but we have had websites in other verticals as well, such as entertainment and health. However, we have always been drawn back to iGaming as that is what we excel in.
Tell us a bit more about your business model, concept, and culture.
At Rodeo 77 Oü we have a very easygoing working culture. We all work remotely, and we don’t believe in fixed working hours. We believe in delivering. So, all our employees and freelancers can work from wherever they want as long as they deliver on time.
We are focused on SEO only. We believe that is the best way to attract the right visitors instead of advertising to those who might not want it.
What sets you apart from other affiliates? What makes your traffic proposition/traffic sites unique?
Our key focus has always been in honesty and transparency. When we are making reviews of casino brands, it is always about letting the facts speak. We do not try to make bad sound good or vice-versa. The players are not stupid, so if you tell them the facts, they can decide themselves whether they want to play there. I am not saying that all other affiliates do that aggressive selling, but unfortunately there are too many of those.
What incremental value do you provide?
This is the same as our core business. It is honesty and transparency in an industry that unfortunately has a reputation of not being so honest.
What importance do you give to responsible gaming?
This is a very important part in this industry. On our sites we always tell the players to play responsibly, and we never ever state that gambling is for winning or that something could increase your chances to win. Generally, gambling is for entertainment and should be treated as such.
Which markets do you focus on, and do you see any potential in the emerging markets?
Right now, we are only focusing on Finland. The future remains as a secret.
Which niches work best for your affiliate marketing, and which are the most profitable? How did you find your most profitable niche?
Here we get back to honesty and transparency. Our readers know that when they visit our sites, they will find updated information and reviews with real facts about the casinos. We are also not afraid to not recommend some casinos if those are proven to be dangerous for players. We never really had to find it out. We just knew it will work.
How important is social media activity for your affiliate business? How difficult is it with Google’s constant updates?
We indeed have some social media activity; however, it is not as near as important as pure SEO for us. This though is something we wish to grow in the future. Google’s updates do cause some grey hairs from time to time, but with good preparation and hard work we have managed to stay up to date in the competition. It is part of the SEO to always know what is happening with Google and to take those steps in advance.
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?
Right now, we are exactly where we need to be and with the people we need.
Which qualities and skills are essential in an affiliate team/business?
The main thing is to realise that being an affiliate is not easy money. So hard work is essential. It is also important to be able to work in a fast pace, I would also say that multitasking is important, as sometimes many things happen at the same time. Obviously, good writing skills help too.
How does technology play a part in your day-to-day?
Well, we do work with computers and using several software to track the SEO, so I would say that it is a very important part.
Which emerging technologies like AI and big data will impact the affiliate industry in 2021 and beyond?
I actually believe that, at present, the affiliate industry is already so technology driven that there won’t be big changes in the near future. It could be possible that Google itself might take more control of the SEO tracking, in which it already has a huge part with its software such as Analytics and others.
How does the Finnish gambling monopoly influence iGaming?
Well, to be honest it does have a huge impact because at the moment people can play on which ever online casino they want. This means that sometimes players might end up playing on websites that are not good for them. So, the monopoly still allows players to play where they want, but the foreign online casinos are not allowed to advertise directly in Finland. They can still advertise online, as Finland does not own internet. So in my opinion the monopoly is very outdated.
How can affiliates be more unique in their approach?
The world is full of innovations, so affiliates should be like any other entrepreneurs and bravely try those which they think might suit them best.
What does it take for an affiliate business to thrive?
Consistency is they main thing to thrive, as there is no easy money, and it might take years of work to be standing on your own feet. There is a lot of competition as well, so being unique is also important.
In your opinion, is affiliate business still expanding?
I think there is still some room to expand as most of the people in the world do not even know what affiliation is. So, the industry is still a bit in the shadows. Of course, we already see industries like tourism where the affiliation has exploded, but there are other industries where it can still develop.
How do you choose your operators and how do you manage relationships with multiple operators?
For us, the most important thing is that the operator is known to be trustworthy. Sometimes, it is indeed difficult to keep everyone happy as there are many operators who want to work with us. But so far, I don’t see it problematic. We always tell what we can offer and with what terms. Again, it is about the transparency.
What is your approach in the initial stages of a new partnership?
We start by going through the casino website, which gives us an idea of what kind of partnership we are looking for and the main thing we always keep in mind is that how would our readers think about the site.
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?
I have been to Malta for several times. I think the most important one would the Americas, as I see a great potential in the market.
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 a typical Finnish, it is hard for me to talk about myself, but I will try. I maintain a good balance with work and personal life. Though, when I do the things I like, such as mountain biking, I forget about work. That is where I get my energy to thrive. It is also very important to be with friends and family, as we need that balance against working on the laptop without human interaction.
Last year I listened a book called Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari and I think everyone should read/listen to it to get a good idea of humanity.
I wouldn’t say I’m a gambler myself, but at times I do enjoy throwing the dice or rolling the slots. I think this is because I work in the industry hours per day, on my free time I try to focus other things.
My favourite quote: “Life is just a game”.
Read more about SiGMA Affiliate Grand Slam here.
Afternoon networking event for Women in Gaming – Amsterdam
In partnership with iGB, SiGMA will hold a 2-day afternoon networking event to celebrate Women in Gaming, an online group dedicated to connecting and supporting women across the gaming industry. This event will take place on the 29th and the 30th of September, with networking drinks and hors d’oeuvres served between 1 and 3 pm at the StrandZuid in Amsterdam. Join us!