Alexandru Onoicenco, Head of Affiliates of CasinoAlpha, joins the latest series of affiliate interviews on Affiliate Grand Slam.
Alexandru Onoicenco speaks about CasinoAlpha, about what sets them apart from other affiliates, about the importance of communication, etc. – follow his story below
How did you get into affiliation? Were you always focused on gaming?
We started our first affiliate project in 2017 and gaming has always been our focus. I think the idea of gambling came before affiliation; our CEO has been a life-long gambler and the vision he always had was to create a product that contains everything a gambler needs.
How and when did CasinoAlpha take off?
The idea for CasinoAlpha appeared in 2020 and a year later we managed to develop and launch it. By 2022, it had already taken off and we even launched it in more markets. Its success, without a doubt, is the result of the combined effort of the whole team; every single content writer, SEO strategist, developer, designer, and affiliate manager put a lot of hard work into it and the quality of the product certainly reflects that.
What sets CasinoAlpha apart from other affiliate websites?
I believe that one of the main things that sets CasinoAlpha apart is the importance we give to accuracy and the depth of information we provide. We never settle for what is visible on the surface or advertised and we always dig deeper. To ensure that the players receive the information that they need, we create accounts, test games, payment methods and bonuses ourselves.
Another thing that sets CasinoAlpha apart is the human element especially in the current context with the use of ChatGPT on the rise. We’ve always believed in products that are created by humans, for humans. The passion and thirst for knowledge that every person of our team brings to the table is unparalleled and drives us to be better every day.
What importance do you give to responsible gaming?
Responsible gaming is decidedly important to us. Gambling addiction is a worrying problem, and we have a section of CasinoAlpha dedicated to fighting it. We advise players every step of the way to gamble responsibly and refer them to our resources whenever possible.
We also audit every partner before closing a deal. We ensure that the tools they offer to players are sufficient, easy to use, and easily accessible before deciding to work with them.
What helps make your performance successful? What are the main challenges?
I think that our ability to quickly adapt to industry changes, whether they are related to digital marketing or to gaming, is one of the things that makes our performance successful. This would not be possible without the passion and thirst for knowledge that the people on our team have.
The main challenges that we are facing are related to scaling our vision to more products and more markets. Since we prefer to take our time and focus on quality, it’s difficult to generate exponential growth.
Which markets are you targeting and why? Do you see any potential in the emerging markets?
Our main markets are UK, Canada, New Zealand, and Ireland. We are currently targeting Japan and Romania and are looking to expand further. We focus on the English-speaking markets as quality control is more accessible. We also tend to stay away from unregulated markets; regulated markets provide more safety for players and more consistency.
How important is social media activity for CasinoAlpha? How difficult is it with Google’s constant updates?
Social media presence is important to us at CasinoAlpha as it gives us a channel to communicate directly with our players. However, it has never been a method for acquiring new customers; we’ve always focused on SEO for that.
Google’s constant updates test our ability to adapt and quickly implement changes to our product. Many of Google’s updates have pushed us to create a better product; present more information to users, show it in a more logical way, or craft our content in a manner that better matches our user’s intent.
How do you choose your operators and how do you manage relationships with multiple operators?
We select operators based on several factors. Before everything else, we look at the reputation and trustworthiness of the online casino. We look at other players’ experience with the casino and see if they faced any issues and we also look at other affiliates’ experience. We also verify if the casino is licensed and which authority issued the license, as well as the company behind it. We want to ensure that our players enjoy a fair and secure gaming experience.
We also verify their product; I.e., whether it fits the market they’re looking to promote in. We verify if they have the right payment methods and the right games. It’s important for us to partner with casinos that offer a product in line with what our audience is looking for.
Managing relationships with multiple operators is no easy task. We have over 600 partners across our products. Communication is key. We regularly check in to discuss performance and how we can improve our campaign, and our team of four affiliate superstars is there for our partners’ needs and questions.
Which qualities and skills are essential in an affiliate team?
I think that one of the essential qualities in an affiliate team is curiosity and a thirst for knowledge – wanting to understand how and why things work in a certain way and coming up with new and better ways to do things. Consistency, and a certain level of confidence in one’s abilities are also very important. Technical skills, from my point of view, can be taught – you can teach someone how to use Excel, how to analyze some numbers, or how to understand some digital marketing terms.
How can ChatGPT automate many of the tedious and time-consuming tasks involved in affiliate marketing? How will it influence SEO? What are the worst- and best-case scenarios?
We believe that ChatGPT definitely has a role in assisting and helping with some of the more technical tasks related to affiliate marketing. However, from an SEO point of view, it’s not something that we see ourselves using intensively. In its current form, it runs a very large risk of generating redundant and unhelpful content.
We believe in content that is written and designed by humans, for humans, with search engines coming second. To understand why we need to look at how ChatGPT works; it’s a language model that simply reinterprets what is already in its database. That means that any content generated by it has already been written before. By design, it will never be able to come up with something unique or with a new approach to a problem, which is something that humans are very good at.
On a macro level, it will certainly have an influence on SEO, as it brings facile access to a lot of information and creating power. The best-case scenario is that people will use it for research and for assistance in creating better content for their users, and that we’ll see an uptick in the quality of content across all niches.
The worst-case scenario, and, unfortunately, the most likely one, is that webmasters will use it to churn out more and more content that is ‘good enough’, with the hopes of ranking quickly and with low effort, thus filling the internet with basically rewritten content that is not helpful and quite dangerous. The reason being is that every generation of GPT so far has the tendency to ‘hallucinate’ and confidently present information that is wildly inaccurate. No matter how many disclaimers OpenAI and any of its future competitors will add that the content may not be entirely accurate, webmasters would not spend the time to fact-check.
Do you think that competition in affiliation is important? Why?
Of course. Competition in all industries is essential to evolution. I think that affiliation is special in this regard because there is no “secret sauce”. With the right tools and analytical mindset, you can basically see what your competitors are doing in real time. This drives a far more dynamic evolution for every member of the industry. If one competitor implemented something new, in a few months 10 others will have figured out how to do it and found a slightly better way to do it. This creates a need and drive for innovation unlike any other industry, which, ultimately, benefits the users, as the products they use are constantly improving.
How was your experience as one of the 100 Spartans at SiGMA EurAsia?
I’ve enjoyed my experience as one of the 100 Spartans. SiGMA has been very welcoming and generated plenty of opportunities to network with people, inside and outside of our industry. I’ve made plenty of new connections and learned a lot from the speakers and other attendees at the conference and had a lot of fun at the other activities.
Are you a regular attendee at the SiGMA events? SiGMA Americas, Asia, Balkans/CIS, Europe – which of these expo shows would you likely book on your diary for 2023?
Yes, I regularly attend SiGMA events. I’ve been to every SiGMA Malta event since I’ve joined the industry. We will certainly book SiGMA Europe in Malta in 2023 and are still considering Asia and Americas.
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.
One of the quotes I resonate with and try to apply to my daily life is by Marcus Aurelius: “You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” I’m also an avid chess player; I try to find a little time every day to become a little better at it. I enjoy it because I feel it trains me to look beyond what I see in front of me and think ahead.
I’m also passionate about everything tech. I enjoy trying out the latest gadgets, understanding how they work, and finding ways to improve them for my daily use. Even though my outlook of ChatGPT is grim, I was and still am fascinated by it and use it frequently; sometimes for legitimate questions and research, sometimes for silly purposes – asking it to write poetry or figuring out ways to make it talk about things it’s not allowed to.
I’m not much of a gambler myself; for me, it’s simply a form of entertainment. I have a drink or two and spin the occasional reel, many times with friends, but never spent a lot of time or money doing it. I also enjoy the occasional blackjack game at a table or a poker game with friends, but we usually only play for chips, not money.