Fredrik Brannlund: ‘We are here to disrupt, that’s our only choice in a market like India’
Two casino and two SEO brains joined forces and created ENV Media.
How did your affiliate marketing business take off? And, is iGaming your only vertical?
ENV Media is two branches rooted by the same tree. First, there’ Martin, Chris, and I. We sold everything we owned; put our laptops and toothbrushes inside a backpack, and went to Asia to research our core market and to nail it.
Then we have Mattias who, from Europe, safely made sure that the setup of our administrative company was properly done.
How did you first get into the affiliate space? And, were you always focused on the Gaming space?
Affiliation and Gaming were always at the heart of what we’ve done. Between the four of us, we have two brains from casino product (LeoVegas & ELK Studios) and another two SEO brains who were raised in the early days of Catena and then LeoVegas.
How is your company structured, and what aspect of business development are you currently focused on?
We are a fully remote company. Altogether, we’re 15 people who are 100% involved, 100% remote and scattered across three continents: South America, Europe, and Asia. We are truly grateful to have practised remote working over a year before COVID-19 hit.
In terms of our business plan, we are doing iGaming SEO in India and India only.
It’s an exciting market from Macroeconomic perspectives, and also from an iGaming point of view. We have actively seen how the content we choose to display can affect the search behaviour in the Indian market. In a sense, we are paving the way for this market today.
Standing with both feet in India we see a HUGE lack in product research.
What can operators do to increase support with affiliates?
We strongly believe in knowledge sharing. In fact, we are actually GIVING data to our partners. They are still working with outdated practices which are confusing and are, ultimately, having a negative effect on their market penetration.
For example, if you do a very basic keyword research you will see how 0.3% of all online casino related searches involve any type of bonus intent. With all our traffic for the past years, we only see an 8-9% bonus ACTIVATION in India. In Scandinavia and the UK, it is around 95%.
Still, operators come to us trying to figure out how to incentivize the players.
Take ALL that budget and all those spendings and put them into localization and payment methods and you will convert 500% better. I guarantee it.
How can affiliate marketers be more unique in their approach?
Content-driven affiliates need to tie their content to the real world if they’re to survive the coming years.
Internet spamming (ads) are dying, you have to provide REAL value to compete now.
What makes your traffic proposition/traffic sites unique?
Our traffic loves Cricket and Teen Patti. They also nod their head in the opposite way of what we, from the western world, are used to.
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 are here to disrupt, that’s our only choice in a market like India.
If someone wants to add value or comfort while we are adding value, I’m all ears!
Which qualities and skills are essential in an affiliate marketing team/business?
Qualities: We attract people who want to be part of a big change, the ones who dig in and get their fingers dirty.
Skills: If you can write, we will pick you over the person next to you. No matter what your responsibilities are.
What sets you apart from other affiliate marketers?
There are big changes in the world right now, we want to be part of that.
We are just using the industry and vertical that we mastered as a conduit for this change..
How does technology play a part in your day-to-day?
Martin wanted to start this to build an intelligent tech, that’s what he brought and is constantly bringing to the table every day.
It doesn’t have to be mind-blowing. More importantly, it needs to be purposeful and targeted on where we have the strongest return.
Which emerging technologies like AI and big data will impact the affiliate industry in 2020 and beyond?
I’m going to point at the trend of the rise of private digital tribes as the next big digital shift within consumption behavior.
I think the affiliated model will play a key role on how that will be monetized.
You as “tribe leader” will lose your credibility and then network the moment you sell out for “cheap” alternatives. The essence of providing value online will be revived through this.
Is the grass greener on the other side – have you considered going down the operator route?
Content and traffic rules. As long as Google allows affiliates on the first page we will be there.
Which markets are you eyeing up as a priority in 2020, and why?
We see India growing constantly; we won’t move until we start seeing a stagnation.
I’ll get back to you on this question in 2024.
How has the fragmentation of regulated markets affected your business? UKGC, Swedish regulator and now also the German regulator is mulling regulating this space.
We have had a lot of business moving towards us because of the regulations.
How is the Asian market shaping-up for affiliates?
It forces us to step out of best practices and rethink our old ways.
A pretty refreshing change in my opinion.
To be honest the western world doesn’t stand a chance. We will have to welcome it, participate and adapt if we want our economies to survive.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when starting out?
90% comes out from the DOING. Act harder, think softer.
What’s been your biggest nightmare to date?
I personally faced confrontation and intervention from my co-founders at one point for being all over the place and not contributing towards the execution. At that point I knew that our company would have been split unless I changed.
That shaped me and saved our organization, it’s still deeply rooted in me.
What are the main challenges for the sector in 2020?
Making conscious choices on how we plan our business.
The iGaming industry holds a huge responsibility towards humanity. It’s imperative that we operate in a manner that contributes to a sustainable future, especially one that safeguards and prioritizes mental health.
What are your predictions for the future of the sector?
We will survive the coming economic crash much better than many other industries.
It will most probably contribute to an ever more aggressive consolidation. Our new digitalized behaviour will forever change customer acquisition behaviours as we know them.
How do you manage relationships with multiple operators?
I focus on the top five and treat the humans I speak with as humans I want to have around me.
We are building this together, therefore we avoid short-term attitudes and business models.
Good product and content flirts with us.
What are the benefits of attending large iGaming events, and what can they do better?
Personally, I miss value-adding debates and knowledge sharing.
From my experience, 90% of the voices you hear on stage or on the floor are sales-orientated “sold ad spots”.
I miss a good mastermind, or a workshop where great brains come together.
Enough with the salespeople, put the product guys in the spotlight.
Have you ever been to SiGMA? Would you consider attending SiGMA Manila or SiGMA Malta at some point?
Yes, it’s nice mingling around and hugging familiar faces.
What’s on your must-read list right now?
There is an amazing book called “Blockchain Mavericks” being released later this winter.
For all nerds and for anyone who is already interested in what Blockchain and Crypto Currencies can do for our global governance and infrastructure, I highly recommend Blockchain Mavericks.
If you are new to the field, you should probably start elsewhere.
Which quote do you live your life by?
Life’s is like a fart, if you have to force it’s probably shit.