Founder at Oddspedia JSC, Jeton Kodia gives an exclusive interview to SiGMA News as part of our latest series on affiliates
How did you first get into the affiliate space, and were you always focused on the iGaming sector?
I met my business partner and best friend Jan Möller at a poker table in 2007. After several poker games we became friends and understood that gambling is not just a hobby for us, it is our destiny. Therefore, we decided to team up and co-founded our company and website Oddspedia. The rest is history.
How is your affiliate business structured, and what aspect of business development are you currently focused on?
We have a broad portfolio of projects across sports betting and casino. Our approach is based on independent and agile teams who take care of their own product portfolio. Those teams provide us with the flexibility we need to strive in the rapid and constantly changing iGaming sphere. Currently we are working with full force on a large extension of our flagship project: oddspedia.com, which we aim to launch in Q2. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, so just watch out for what’s going to come soon.
Which markets do you focus on and do you see any potential in the emerging markets?
Our focus has been mainly on German-speaking countries but we are now going forward into emerging markets. Brazil and South / Latin America in general is very interesting for us. Oddspedia.com is also available in Portuguese and Spanish. As a sports portal, you have to cater to those “soccer-crazy” countries. If in a market soccer can be more important than religion, this for sure is a market you don’t want to miss out on, since sports and betting go hand-in-hand.
What makes your traffic proposition / traffic sites unique? What can you offer that others don’t? Are there any exciting plans in the works that you can tell us about?
I am proud to say that Oddspedia.com is one of the best odds comparison websites on the market. Our data is reliable and our design customer-friendly. Furthermore, we fully geo-target and display only those bookies relevant to the user at hand. Otherwise, a comparison is useless when it is based on data irrelevant to you or when you cannot make use of the data. Your user experience will suffer if your best odds stem from a bookie who doesn’t accept players from your country.
Is the grass greener on the other side – Have you considered giving white label casino or sports betting a go?
Not sure whether it’s greener – we are involved in several projects but only as investors without any active involvement. Building your own operator is tempting at times, especially given how many bad ones are in the market – and sometimes they are still successful. However, I see the many advantages we have as an affiliate: We can easily change our strategy, business field, or focus. When you know how to build great websites, you can do it in almost any market. An operator lacks this agility.
Are you concerned by the impact on the affiliate sector from shifting regulatory environments? (In particular UKGC, Sweden’s Spelinspektionen, and Germany’s 2020 State Treaty on Gaming Regulation)
To some degree yes, but also no. As a large and professional affiliate we bear social responsibility for our employees and as such we are concerned that governments regulate without really knowing what they do. Grey and white markets can turn into completely black markets. This is even more concerning if you do not evaluate all facets in an upcoming change in regulation. Markets can then become disadvantageous for certain groups or players and favour those who play it “unfair”. Under such conditions the market will be flooded with shady and unlicensed brands and the illegal portion of online gambling will grow more than before.
If done properly however, we welcome it with open arms, as it provides the chance to give affiliates security regarding their advertising practices. Even more importantly, it would allow affiliates to take a more long-term view, as proper regulation would force operators to sign legally binding contracts with their affiliates. Currently, affiliates are oftentimes solely dependent on the operator’s grace.
What is the main thing that you’d like SiGMA readers to know about your traffic? Are you focusing on SEO? PPC? Any other traffic source?
We focus entirely on SEO traffic and word of mouth. In my opinion, this is the traffic you should aim for, as plain and simply put, there is nothing better than a recommendation.
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?
We don’t have the need to on-board external investors for scaling as we are able to fund our own growth strategy. If somebody wants to buy us, they have to pay the right price. Most players don’t actually understand what they would get when they acquire us. A plain look just on numbers, like FTDs, profits, and so on does not reflect our sustainable and long-term approach. The whole technology, infrastructure and all the BI plus potential synergy effects are not priced at all. Our company is like our baby and we simply didn’t build it to sell. We understand how the market works and hence we won’t sell just to realise some short-term profits.
What can operators do to increase support from affiliates?
To sum it up in a single point: Transparency! Provide us with more data related to our performance, the customers we deliver, retention rates, API access and so on. More data about everything. More transparency about our player base. For an operator, it is really easy to remove players from a certain affiliate just to save on the payable commission. We know that this is ongoing practice and the sad truth which stretches out to some of the largest players in the markets. Due to a lack of data, nobody can prove it. Such practices might explain why affiliates don’t get access to the real backend of the affiliate program.
Which qualities and skills are essential in an affiliate team/business?
Fun and passion for gambling. Be like your own customer and have a variety of different characters in your team. The more perspectives you are able to incorporate, the better will be your product.
How does technology play a part in your day-to-day?
It is essential to our business. We need it to build and improve our products and to create automatic processes which improve the quality and allow us to cater to more markets than we otherwise would be able to serve. Additionally you can see technology as the backbone for all our internal and external communication and coordination.
How is the Asian market shaping-up for affiliates?
By hearsay, it is an interesting and promising market. We also have plans in the pipeline to enter the Asian market but first we have to finish our homework.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when starting out?
Don’t overthink everything. Just get started and be honest and authentic. It doesn’t matter what others think, as long as you are convinced that you are on the right track and your way is the right one.
What are the challenges in managing relationships with multiple operators?
Have an excellent marketing team and a business partner who takes care of this for you.
What are the benefits of attending large iGaming events, and what can they do better?
The main benefit to me is clearly networking and getting in contact with interesting people. The more intimate atmosphere of smaller events allows this aspect to flourish more than on some of the bigger events.
Tell us a bit about yourself – after all business is done between people, not just companies!
There are a lot of places I enjoy going to. I love Sardinia, Las Vegas, and our company base – Varna, Bulgaria.
Favourite book ever read? Favourite book you look forward to read some day?
Wladimir Kaminer: Russendisko
I don’t read books anymore, I love audible and just bought Edward Snowden: Permanent Record.
George Moore: “A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.”
Get to know other great affiliates, responsible for killer traffic! Click the link below to read more insights from affiliates:
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