From affiliate manager to betting affiliate with Gavin Walters
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What is WhatAcca.com?
WhatAcca.com is such a fun project that continues to grow year on year. It exists out of my love for sports betting and ultimately offers daily betting tips and most importantly expert advice for those placing accumulator bets. We use our experience to educate our followers on how to bet in the safest way. Rather than focusing on grinding out profit each month, we instead position ourselves as a ‘go to’ site if you fancy placing a bet but don’t want to do the research. We win multiple accumulator bets each week which is something most bettors don’t do all year. So, we say, if you fancy a bet, check us out as it’s always got a chance. We do bring in nice profits each month, we just don’t make the whole aim about it. Placing an acca is fun and it should be kept that way.
We have a huge email following and more recently our Telegram group is growing quicker as players look for more convenient ways of communication.
Whatacca is 9 years old and this year will likely be our biggest year yet as more of our plans roll out. If all goes to plan, our first product will go live too and run within WhatAcca.com. Our app is in production also and is set to go live in the summer.
You started your career in iGaming at Bet365, what was it like starting at perhaps the biggest iGaming company in the world?
That’s right, back in 2008 I joined bet365 as a graduate trainee and it really did set me up for life. You can’t really get a better start than what I had and I feel fortunate I was able to earn that opportunity early on in my career. I spent two years rotating across departments within the business before landing a role as affiliate manager. Back then I was having weekly meetings with John Coates and seeing Denise on my lunch breaks. Amazing experience that very few get the chance to witness.
This start led me to starting my own white label casino as well as various senior roles and C level positions.
What did you learn about the mergers and acquisitions space in doing this work at Gambling.com group?
I learned that back then, in the hype of the MNA activity, it was tough to get a good deal. Money was being thrown around by many companies. Now we know some of that was good and a fair amount was a little overpriced...
I of course learnt what makes a company attractive to acquire, especially in the affiliate space. If you want a snapshot of what is appealing, here’s three things most companies look for that may not be the first things you think of;
- Admin, Finance and management of the business are clean and up to date. There is nothing worse than trying to assess a business and having to work really hard to piece the running of it together. It leads to massive amounts of back and forth and often discovers things that go negatively for the valuation.
- One website / asset is much better than 20+. Whatever is acquired needs to be integrated and then managed. If you have a business made up of a lot of websites then it’s a lot less appealing for another business to acquire.
- Where your revenue comes from. Which operator is paying you matters. It matters even more now as smaller operators are showing how tough it is to survive. If your top 5 earners are not tier 1 operators than it’s likely your multiple will not be as high.
Hopefully those points give you a little steer on the not so common factors of MNA in this industry. Whilst revenue and acquisition numbers are the basis of any deal, there are other factors which can make or break a deal.
Do you think the M&A space has adjusted to reasonable valuations of affiliate companies now that AskGamblers has sold for 45M EUR?
I’d probably say it’s more a case that there are limited buyers around for the big acquisitions. There are only a handful of companies who would be in a position to acquire an affiliate site over 20M EUR. AskGamblers has been on a decline since the start of 2020 also, so all things factored in, it was probably a deal on the low side but I’d imagine both sides are happy.
In terms of the near future, I think we can expect a slow year of MNA in the affiliate space. I can see smaller affiliates being snapped up though as performance numbers are becoming increasingly important. Paddy Power become the latest operator to terminate affiliates and BetVictor are also doing the same so it’s safer to be bigger. So smaller affiliates would benefit from merging with each other or joining bigger companies.
I’ve always expected two listed companies to merge also and I wouldn’t be surprised if 2024 is the year we see that happen. You can quote me on that if it happens!
How has all your collective work experience lead to you not just starting your own affiliate sites but in making them successful?
I think the main thing is love for the game really. I love the gambling industry and I love having my own projects. Being an affiliate manager is both inspiring and hard to watch as you see the commissions getting paid to affiliates, it is that what gave me drive to have my own.
Sitting on both sides of the fence though, is probably the biggest experience factor. It is a lot easier working for an operator as affiliate manager over being an affiliate. Having one or a handful of brands to worry about is so easy compared to worrying about hundreds of brands, their offers, preferences of advertising etc.. Then you need to worry about traffic of course. Put these two experiences together and it’s quite a book of knowledge.
I’ve worked for the biggest operators and the biggest affiliates. There is no quick win formula to takeaway but the best practices I am very aware of and use where I can.
Do you do consulting work for affiliates or affiliate programs given your experience having been on both sides of the fence?
Yes since 2020 I have consulted for various businesses and continue to do so. As my knowledge and experience covers such a wide coverage of the industry, I have been useful assisting companies with problems and gaps they have. I have now setup three affiliates in the US affiliate space. From getting licenses, contacts and deals with operators, commercial contracts and general strategy. The US has been keeping me busy and as I run my own affiliate site in this market, I am placed nicely to assist.
What should affiliates focus on and why? SEO, conversion rate optimization, optimizing their deals or building their tech stack?
I would say obtaining good quality traffic. If you don’t have traffic you can’t do much in this space. So, to pick an answer from above I would say SEO as that brings in traffic. Once you have traffic, you can then work on the rest.
Having a technically good website is also very important and if used correctly can offer the user a much better experience compared to competitors.
To contact Gavin find him on his LinkedIn profile here.
Some of our recent interviews are here
- How I became an iGaming affiliate with Havard Lehn
- The legal betting landscape in USA with Mike Murphy
- SEO tips for affiliates with Matt Diggity
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