GPWA Times Magazine - Issue 24 - April 2013

GPWA AFFILIATE INTERVIEW SERIES Start with a good idea, figure out your niche and build a website that converts When did you launch your site? Players- Jet was launched in January 2005. What makes PlayersJet different from other sites that act as guides for gam- blers who are looking for places to play? Early in 2004, I discovered that online gam- bling existed and immediately saw an op- portunity to build a business marketing for these websites. Not being familiar with the industry, and not being a gambler myself, it was amazing to discover out how easy it was for a player to fund an online account and play for real money in an online casino, poker room or sportsbook. It seemed curious that none of the major Las Vegas brands were offering real-money online gambling, yet there were hundreds, maybe thousands of websites out there will- ing to take your bets. This led to the core question that drives PlayersJet: How do you know whom to trust with your money? PlayersJet is built around a TrustRank algo- rithm that reviews and ranks websites based on multiple observable criteria to assign a relative confidence score to help players determine which sites they can trust most. How do you determine the “Trust Rank” that you give online gambling sites? In a quest to answer the question of trust, I spent a couple of months visiting hundreds of online gambling sites, determining who the leaders in the industry were and then understanding why they were doing well. A picture started to emerge for those op- erators who were leading the industry and those who felt more fly-by-night. At that time PricewaterhouseCoopers was providing audits for several online casinos, and there were other third-party resources like eCOGRA that were providing their stamp of approval. Clearly an operator who was willing to be audited by a third party had to have a higher level of trust than an operator who did not. In total, over 30 unique observable factors were identified that helped determine if one website should be trusted over another. This led to the development of an algorithm that weights each of these factors and cre- ates a TrustRank score based on a 100-point scale. Each of the online gambling sites in our database is assigned a TrustRank based on this algorithm and is ranked throughout PlayersJet. You’ve said that you were an Internet consultant for around 10 years before deciding to get into the online gaming industry. Looking back, do you feel you made the right decision? This was defi- nitely the right decision. I’m still an Internet consultant today and the online marketing skills I’ve learned frommarketingPlayersJet have been applied to my consulting clients. It took a long time to develop PlayersJet. Would you advise new webmasters to take a long time developing their sites? If you could go back and do it again, would do the same thing or would you launch first and learn on the fly? It took close to 10 months to launch PlayersJet from incep- tion to launch. Coming from the Internet consulting industry, I approached this me- thodically, by first researching the industry, developing the TrustRank algorithm and then determining a marketing strategy, which took close to four months. The next six months were spent on execution: HTML development, programming and enter- ing over 1,000 websites into the database. It takes approximately 15 to 20 minutes to enter a new site into the database, so hours upon hours went into that task alone. For a webmaster looking to start out in this industry, you can get up-and-running much faster than we did. There are many more tools that can be utilized today, like using WordPress as a platform, so devel- opment time can be much quicker. The key to success is understanding how you are marketing yourself to players on the Web, what they will respond to and how you will build traffic. I certainly would not launch first and ask questions later; that’s what gets most webmasters in trouble. Figure out your niche first, then build around that. Your website doesn’t have to be a completely finished product, but it needs to appear finished to a visitor to the site. PlayersJet has gone through several enhancements in the years since launching but has al- ways appeared as a finished product, and I believe that has served us well. How long did it take for your site to start earningmoney? We launchedwith a strict- ly affiliate-based revenue model and made money in the first month we launched – a whopping 25¢. It took three months to start seeing consistent revenue from the website, and things continued to build from there. How much time do you devote to SEO – including link-building – and/or social networking in order to drive more traffic to your site? Not nearly enough time. Ide- ally, I would be spending 20 to 30 hours a week on SEO, social and other traffic-build- ing efforts. As it is now, I’m only able to manage 5 to 10 hours a week on these tasks. You’ve said that January is “by far the best month every year” in terms of revenue. Why do you think that is the case? For us it has to do with seasonal- ity in sports betting. We market to casinos, poker rooms and sportsbooks with a simi- lar number of signups across each group, but sportsbooks have a much higher reten- tion rate than casinos and a higher rate of income than poker. The base of existing players we have built with sportsbook pro- grams means that we generally do the best in months where sports betting is most active, and that means the NFL playoffs. What traits do you look for in an affiliate manager? How about in an affiliate pro- gram? I’ve taken a little different approach to this business than most affiliates in that I first review the online gambling sites to de- termine their TrustRank, then I only work with the programs that score well. The sites that don’t score well remain in our database, CHRIS webber286 Site: Must Read Book: Honestly, I don’t read books. I believe in reading everything on the Web you can find to help with SEO online marketing. Favorite Food: Pizza GPWA Affiliate Interview Series