“Our websites are unique” – P. van Deursen, Your Business Leads

Darlene Zammit 1 year ago
“Our websites are unique” – P. van Deursen, Your Business Leads

Paul van Deursen, CEO of Your Business Leads, joins the latest series of affiliate interviews on Affiliate Grand Slam.

Paul van Deursen speaks about their websites which target mainly the Dutch market and about affiliation in the Dutch market – follow his story below

When and how did you get into affiliation? Were you always focused in gaming?

About 10 years ago, an operator asked me whether I knew anyone who could target the Dutch market for them. I knew nothing about websites yet, but had friends who ran a web design agency in the Netherlands. I talked to them and we decided to start our first project together which was www.top-casino.nl. It was fun to see how people found the website and I started to learn more about SEO. I was not always focused on gaming, have worked in several industries during and after my studies, but this was a way to start our own business and we went for it.

What sets you apart from other affiliates?

I guess I might be more relaxed than other affiliates. A lot of people were, and still are, stressing out about Dutch regulations coming up, which brands you should or should not promote, what changes will come to our business, and what not. However, change also means opportunities. Some things you just cannot change; therefore, it is useless to put energy into them and it is better to adjust to the new situation.

What makes your sites unique?

Our websites are unique. Our designs are always customised and so are the functionalities and tools. The websites run on a custom Content Management System which gives a lot of flexibility to adjust where needed. We want to make websites people can trust and come back to. It is easier to get the clicks than to keep them, but we try to do just that.

What helps make your performance successful? What are the main challenges?

Good affiliate managers and a trustworthy affiliate program are very important to me. Fast responses, help if needed, access to full statistics, and general understanding of the business are all factors. If the collaboration does not work between an AM and myself, it will be hard for the partnership to succeed. It is of course a chicken and egg situation. If I do not bring in the numbers, the AM will not be willing to help much. So there needs to be mutual trust. In the beginning of a partnership, I do not look at the deal to negotiate, that will come later after we have gotten to know each other a bit better.

The biggest challenge at the moment is the growing competition in SEO. The existing affiliates all push harder than ever before, but everyone is now also competing with licensed operators in search and in the Ads above the search, sportsbook affiliates who target the same operators (which was more separated before), and new websites with strong authority who after regulation also want a piece of the pie.

Which are the main websites that fall under your portfolio?

The main gambling related websites are top-casino.nl and freespins.fun in the Netherlands. Besides this we run a few international websites in gaming. Outside of gaming we run lead generating websites and a short while ago we started a web shop. It is good to diversify a bit and not put all the eggs in one basket.

Which markets and GEOs do you focus on and do you see any potential in the emerging markets?

We mostly focus on the NL market, but we do have some ROW and DE websites running in the background. The ROW GEO is hard and not much profitable; we will convert those and focus on another GEO later. In terms of emerging markets, at the moment, we have no desire to start in countries of which we do not know the language.

How did the Dutch market change after the Netherlands passed the online gambling law?

Well, everything changed actually. As I mentioned, there is a lot more competition and also the way people search has changed. This brings both challenges and opportunities. It is good that players are more protected, and operators are now under constant supervision of the authorities. However, there is still a lot to be done before the market matures. New operators will join and regulations will change. It is a process we are still in at the moment. Before regulations, things were quieter and calmer, now almost every week there is something new.

How do you see the future of affiliate marketing, with special look into the Dutch market?

For the Dutch market specifically, affiliates will become more important to operators due to the changing regulations for advertising. It will not be allowed anymore to target people who are not specifically looking for gambling content. No more TV commercials, no more ads in (online) newspapers, and no more untargeted email marketing, for example. This means real casino affiliate websites will be an important marketing channel for all licensed operators in the Netherlands.

Worldwide there is another big change going on, which is AI content. With AI it will be easier for everyone to generate content in all languages. I still prefer to have real content, written by real people. But the difference between good AI content and ‘real’ content becomes smaller and smaller. Hopefully, website visitors and google can still distinguish the difference.

Do you create all the marketing material you need to promote in-house, or do you outsource it?

We have in-house content writers and also work with content agencies and freelancers. It depends on the type of content we need. Same for images, we can do a lot ourselves but sometimes you need a real designer who is specialised in his work to do the job.

Which emerging technologies like AI and Big Data will impact the affiliate industry in 2023 and beyond?

As I mentioned, I believe AI is going to make a big difference for affiliates. For (most) affiliates though, using Big Data is not that relevant in my opinion. It is important to analyse your own data and make conclusions based on it, but that is on a micro level. However, for the industry as a whole it is important to spot the changes early on and adapt. Therefore, big operators with a budget for acquiring and analysing Big Data have an advantage over the smaller ones. Myself, I will stay on top of the news and keep my eyes and ears open. I understand I will be one step behind the early adapters, but maybe a step ahead of most competitors.

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?

Starting with the worst-case scenario: the internet will be flooded with un-personalised insignificant and meaningless content. Sometimes you already cannot spot the difference between real and unreal videos. Maybe there should be a quality mark for real content. I hope it will not come this far. For SEO, I sincerely hope Google (and others) will spot and devalue AI content, since you cannot know anymore what is true or not. Fake news, for example, will also become more visible, since the creators are more willing to create several websites to support their ideas.

The AI itself will also become better at creating SEO content, so I do think it is useful to integrate AI into our work. The software can help you with parts of your content; however, you should always check and fine tune before uploading.

It is kind of the same with industrialisation, where the workers were less needed because machines could do their job; still, you need a specialist to control the machine. Or, when the first big supermarkets appeared and took over bread sales from your bakery on the corner. You still want to go to the bakery sometimes for a chat with the baker or to buy quality bread. The online world will change, but there will always be room for specialists and quality.

How do you choose your operators and how do you manage relationships with multiple operators?

At the moment, since all operators in the Netherlands are new, I want to try them all and give them some exposure. Based on their performance I will suggest giving them more exposure. Skype or email are both preferred contact methods. During conferences, it is always nice to work on the relationship in a more informal atmosphere.

Outside the Netherlands, and before regulations, choosing the right operator is harder. There are so many. An advice for operators and affiliate managers: please, do not spam my inbox to become a partner and if you already are a partner, do not keep asking for more exposure as it will only work against you, with me at least.

How was your 300 Spartans’ experience?

It was a good conference for me. My main goal was to meet some of the new partner companies. I already had made contact with all the Dutch operators by email or Skype, so meeting new people or finding new operators was not the main plan. I did go to some events, like the gala dinner and a networking dinner, where I could meet some other Spartans. Always nice to discuss the market and exchange ideas. The hotel and room were very nice, and everything was well organised around the 300 Spartans. While some parts of the congress center at SiGMA may have been tight, attendees were able to enjoy a vibrant and bustling atmosphere as booths were placed closely together, creating a sense of excitement and energy. Additionally, the spacious outdoor area provided a refreshing break and an opportunity for networking in a more relaxed setting.

Are you a regular attendee at the SiGMA events? Did you attend SiGMA Africa? SiGMA Americas, Asia, Balkans/CIS, Eurasia, Europe – which of these expo shows would you likely book on your diary for 2023?

I have been to SiGMA events before, but only focused on Europe. I cannot say much about the others.

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.

Outside work I like to play golf, go skiing, watch football (I no longer play), and do some gardening. For social activities, playing games with friends while having a beer is always fun. Sometimes these are gambling games, but also card and board games can be just as much fun. I am no longer into gaming; I used to go to casinos and play poker tournaments once in a while, but would not have called myself a gambler.

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