By Joe Saumarez Smith from Crown Bingo.
The affiliate market for online bingo is still relatively small. A few major sites have developed which dominate the market – Phil Fraser’s Which Bingo, Scott Logan’s Bingo Port and Raj Ramanandi’s Bingo Base are the obvious ones – but it is surprising how uncrowded the market place is.
I had been thinking this for a while but my attention was really focussed at CAP London. While there were hundreds of casino and poker affiliates, the bingo community could fit into a small room.
Some of the reason for this is obvious. With poker in particular there is a lot to be said about the game. Anyone with a Word Press blog can churn out 20 articles a day about how to play Jack-10 suited under the gun in a 1-2 no limit game with a short stack. With bingo it’s hard to have an in depth strategy section, unless you’re selling your clients some sort of magic bingo system which relies on astrology and the National Lottery results to make selections (good idea, that!).
But I think the other reason is that bingo is still perceived as a low earning niche for affiliates. You can put the work in but will you get paid?
My answer is that yes, you will get paid. It probably won’t be as much as for poker…
… where the lifetime value of an average player is substantially higher than for a bingo player (or at least it was when I last looked; perhaps now poker is losing its trendiness this will lead to a lower lifetime value). But it is probably just about on a par with a casino player. It will take longer for you to collect your cash as bingo players take a while to lose their cash – the average player sticks around for seven months or so rather than the week or two that a casino might retain an average player. But the lifetime value of players in bingo is good with sites like Crown Bingo keeping values at above £350 per customer, thanks to strong retention and reactivation activity.
As someone in the bingo space, my main concern is that the new affiliates entering the bingo space often do so with such low quality content. With the honourable exception of a few new sites like Free Bingo Hunter and Bingo News (which I have an investment in), both of which have clearly spent a good deal of money on their development and editorial promotion, too many new affiliates seem to be simply slapping up a few pages and using black hat SEO techniques to get good natural search rankings.
There is also a great deal of theft of content. As someone who spends a great deal of money generating fresh content I become increasingly frustrated by the number of sites who simply rip off my team’s work. If you look on some of the online freelancer sites you can see projects coming up offering work where writers are paid $2.50 per 500 words to ‘rework’ someone else’s original content.
I realise these techniques work. Google does not have the time to manually check every website to see if the content is genuine and their reporting process is worse than useless in terms of getting errant sites to correct their ways.
Perhaps the only way to make this work is for online bingo operators to police their affiliates and gently persuade them to see the errors of their way. Affiliates have been persuaded not to bid on certain keywords thanks to the changes of terms and conditions in most operator’s contracts and it would be good to see the same sort of terms about editorial integrity in those contracts.
I am not holding my breath on this one. But as more affiliates enter the bingo space, it would be good to see operators individually thinking a bit more about what they find acceptable business practice from their partners and what is not.