Branding, Content & Media with Paul Puolakka
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Your marketing and affiliate background is extensive! What made you choose ViaBonus.com to be their Chief Marketing Officer?
I indeed have some experience from both operators and now also from the affiliate side of the industry.
Lots of affiliate sites were just focusing on the SEO side, while often the site appearance and visuals were not so easy for the eyes. I've been always drawn to great brands and visuals so I wanted to create something of my own.
Also, the idea was to have also more female-friendly approach to gambling since most of the casino comparison sites are focused on the male audience. We've been lucky to have lots of female freelancers and a network of friends who have helped us to do so.
During the years I became on good terms with many affiliates and managed to find a good partner to start the project with.
They´ve already made some success in the Nordics so they provided a lot of good insights on working on the affiliate side.
Do you think having experience as an affiliate manager and affiliate has helped your work today?
Definitely. I have a very good idea of what operators are looking for when it comes to traffic value and how commissions are actually calculated (admin fees and other deductions).
Working as an affiliate manager I also never had an idea of how much work and other assets to run a successful affiliate business takes. I mean man the competition is fierce. To make it in this industry as an affiliate you really need to be on top of your game. It requires money, time, patience and the right partners. This is something that unfortunately many affiliate managers don´t necessary understand.
You have a lot of operations experience but seem to gravitate towards marketing, content and media. What is it about this that you prefer over the operation side of iGaming?
Prior to my iGaming career, I used to work years in sales and account management roles. When I first entered the industry and moved to Malta I was just supposed to work in the industry for a 6-12months and go back to Finland. Back then I basically felt that I just needed a "break" from my then life in my home country.
I friended a few affiliates and soon found that the affiliate marketing department could be something that would suit my previous work experience and my personality in general.
When it comes to marketing in general, I've always been drawn to the fact of how different brands deliver the message and what makes the customers choose the product and respond to the call to action.
When it comes to content and media to me they come hand in hand. I've always liked a good copy, but especially I'm really into how things look visually. As a matter of a fact, there was a time I wanted to be a graphic designer and I'm currently doing some of the visuals myself. This is something I would like to learn more about in the future.
Aside from the content side of business with viabonus.com, what are you working on behind the scenes in marketing that we can’t see?
Pretty much everything. We´re currently quite a slim team so I do partly content management, account management, graphics, SEO etc. We use a lot of freelancers and agencies for our projects, but it is good to know how stuff work since sometimes you need to “jump in” to make quick adjustments.
Since I handle the overall project management, I think it's also very important that I know a lot of different aspects of the projects we run currently. Besides Viabonus, we have a few other projects and it's a lot of work, so it's important to understand the workflow and keep things as efficient as possible.
Your Instagram is loaded with modeling pics and you have that as previous experience. Is this a side hobby or more just a passion for art, fashion and photography?
Haha, okay you brought this up here. Photoshoots were something I did for extra money when I was younger. After a short TV appearance, I was approached by one of the owners of and men's online store Jerone.com. What was then just a side gig turned into friendship and nowadays we are good friends.
I´ve also done some photoshoots in Malta. This is just something different and a change for the daily job. It's nowadays more like a hobby and a favour I do for a friend and ofc I get some fresh new pictures.
When it comes to photography in general this is something that then interested me since I was a kid. My late father used to do side gigs as a photographer and I have his vintage Canon. Perhaps I'll start shooting some photos with that one, the old-school way.
You shared a recent post that Finland may be considering a gambling licensing system, do you support this and what do you think will happen?
It's definitely happening. The biggest parties in Finland the National Coalition Party (Kokoomus) and The Social Democratic Party (SDP) have both given support for dismantling the current state monopoly of Veikkaus.
Also, Velipekka Nummikoski, the Executive Vice President of Veikkaus, says that the current gambling system in Finland should be changed. These are all very strong statements and I have no doubt that the licencing system will come within a few years. Licensing can be a good thing, but I honestly hope it does not happen as it has in Sweden for example.
Since the loopholes can create a "black market" for shady online casinos that don't have proper player protection or actual licence. These kinda operators can often target the most vulnerable players. It can be tricky, but for the sake of the industry and players (and as a native Finn), I really hope the coming licencing system will be well put together. Time will tell.
For other countries around the world, which licensing model do you think is the best, or rather which country does iGaming the best?
I don't think there´s a "bulletproof" licencing system anywhere, nor do I think there ever be. There are always gonna be some "flaws" depending on who you ask.
Malta and MGA have naturally years of experience and it has been years the leading licence, especially within the EU countries. In recent years the Estonian Online Gaming licence has also become more and more popular within the EU and we´re seeing more and more operators opening and growing their offices here.
When it comes to player protection the UK Gambling Commission has been quite harsh to operators and they´ve given pretty hefty fines in recent years to operators. This said it's hard for me to say do these fines actually make the licencing system good, but at least the operators are forced to take the given guidelines seriously.
Which SEO or marketing tools do you use that you can’t live without?
Ahrefs, Google Analytics & Search console are the most important tools for us. There are a few others too that support our content creation flow also.
What is one thing you’d like to see changed in the iGaming space today?
Operators seem to lack sometimes long-term goals. Sometimes it feels as if they just go month by month and it can be very challenging to create mutually beneficial long-term partnerships with some operators.
Also in general iGaming companies should really invest in educating their staff. It never hurts to know more about affiliation, SEO or how to work more efficiently and adjust your workflow. Whatever is relevant to your job, I think educating your staff is always a good choice.
What marketing books, communities or resources that you follow that are outside of iGaming that helps you with your work?
There are a few podcasts and Youtube channels that I follow. When it comes to digital marketing I follow Neil Patel and in general well-being Andrew Huberman.
There are quite a few books I read and the latest one I just started is "the ten types of human" by Dexter Dias. "The Unfair Advantage" by Ash Ali and Hasan Kubba was also a really great book.
When I need some extra kick in the morning and some motivation I´ll just put something like David Goggins on from Youtube while I work (I have a TV near my working station).
For anybody that is new to iGaming affiliation, what is your advice for people to get started?
Try to network as much as possible. Attend the conferences, and meet people. Ask a LOT of questions, and be curious. Learn as much as possible from SEO and digital marketing as possible (Youtube is full of great free content).
Join our affiliate interview series
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