GPWA Times Magazine - Issue 16 - May 2011

By Gary Beal I ’ve been in the gaming industry for many years, as an affiliate, super- affiliate and then as a professional SEO Agency acquiring top rankings for various major players and SMEs. One of the most frequent questions I get goes something like this: “I can’t compete with the big guys like I used to anymore, so what’s next?” I answer this question like so: “It depends on the risks you are willing to take, mainly with your time and money.” The U.S. affiliate gaming market is promising . . . eventually. New Jersey couldn’t put it together and now the on- line poker market has blown up after the indictment of the owners of the three largest sites that accepted American play. Speculation is at an all-time high because it is believed that once a single state ap- proves some sort of legislation allowing online gambling, the endgame will become “Follow the leader.” There is even talk that federal regulation is nearing, providing guidelines for every state to allow limited gambling, which would eventually lead to what we all want, legalized online gam- bling. I wouldn’t discount this sector, but I would limit my time and resources to 10 to 15 percent of my overall investment. It’s too big to ignore, but potentially too over- regulated initially to invest in full-time. If UIGEA were overturned we would all be ecstatic, but I think that it’s going down to the state level now and the sector will be- come an overly policed nightmare for an affiliate. You also have to consider that Google has fine-tuned its algorithm several times re- cently and targeted “portal” affiliate-type gambling websites. Countless affiliates have approached me for help because not only have they lost positions, but Google is seemingly penalizing their site as well. If you had good rankings and all of a sudden you are on page 3, then 5, then 9 (positions 30+, 60+ or 90+), then you are on your way there. There are several ways to overcome this, but none are cheap or quick. So do you put your money in this wish basket and start building your sites and link networks to target the U.S.? Or do you consider other sectors that eliminate the legal issues? The lottery affiliate sector is grow- ing significantly, much like online bin- go did a few years ago. The issue here is that commissions vary considerably, but all are smaller than we are used to – from 3 to 25 percent on a revenue share program, or a CPA deal of up to $100 per player. The drawback I see here is that the commission is minimal on a CPA basis but attractive to affiliates who are wary of vendors without cook- ies or tracking programs. Rev share programs are also “faith-based,” but most have sufficient tracking in place because they pay lifetime commissions on player deposits. The issue I see here is that although the organic ranking re- sults on Google represent a soft market, the sector is awash with affiliate offer- ings that are in fact the same offers from the same vendors. Additionally I do not feel this is a good sector for an affili- ate, but it’s a great one for a successful superaffiliate because end-user loyalty is typically very high if you have a good provider supporting you and plenty of good affiliates. The forex affiliate sector is, in my mind, the hidden gem. Much like the mobile gaming sector, it enjoyed high ex- pectations in the past but was and is slow to fully mature. The forex market has a few significant, standout advantages over U.S. gaming or lottery offerings: Less than 5 percent of the global audience is aware of what the forex market is, or how it works. Competition in organic search results is soft. Competition in the PPC/paid arena is medium-soft and wide open for long tail terms. Affiliate offerings range from $100 to $300 CPA and although 10 to 25 percent seems to be the rev share norm, I have found a few willing to offer up to 40 percent, with lifetime commissions available at several brokers. White labels, live MT4 platforms and even custom-branded Smartphone apps are available – and cheap. Lots of lateral sales opportunities such as signal indicators, consultancy services and training materials are available to further monetize the traffic you create. The Middle East* is a limited gambling market due to religious beliefs, and although it is a highly debated topic, the results I will show you shortly will prove that the Middle East is currently the hottest market to enter as far as I am concerned – both from a PPC standpoint and an SEO standpoint. *While opinions vary as to which countries make up the modern definition of the Middle East, the places it does include are Egypt, Israel, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon and Libya. The northern African countries that bor- der the Mediterranean Sea are also included. The forex market is on the verge of a major migration of both affiliates and punters in part because its profiles are so similar to gambling’s risks and “attractions”: 1. Choose your currency/market. 2. Choose your leverage. 3. Win/lose or break even. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Making the case for forex With the U.S. market teetering on legislative approval and the lottery sector showing signs of growth, SEO expert Gary Beal makes the case that the rapidly growing Forex/Binary Option market is the best place for affiliates to invest their valuable time and resources. Making the case for forex