GPWA Times Magazine - Issue 28 - April 2014

GPWAAFFILIATE INTERVIEWSERIES For programs that retainplayers, gowith thebiggerbrands When did you launch your sites? Over several years, starting in 2007. New ones are always coming through, and some others arebeing retired. How did you become involved in the industry? I quit a successful corporate career anddid ayear of travelingwithout a real returnplan in 2006, and caught the poker bug for a while. After a stint as a writer Igot curiousas tohowpeoplewere making money with the articles I was selling them. After a little analysis of the industry I decided to grab a slice of the action formyself. How long did it take for you to start earning money? Around a year, after writing and running my own site at the same time there was enough potential apparent for me to postpone going back to corporate life. It was less than two years before affiliating became a full-time income source. Which of your sites have themost traffic andbring in themost revenue? Sit andGo Planet is my highest-traffic site. Strategy traffic is always harder to convert, although over the years I have found creative ways of doing this. My country- specific “Bonus Club” themed sites are lower-traffic, although for far better targeted terms. Your Sit and Go Planet site is a training site for SNGplayers.What prompted you tostart thesite?Andwhydoyou think it’s been so successful? Sit andGo Planet is morediverse than just SNG training these days, covering all types of online poker tournaments and satellitequalifiers. The concept was to fit into a gap in the marketfornewishandrecreationalplayers whowant to improve their game.What I figured at the time was that there are a ton of absolute beginner sites and a ton of the “I’m a grinder whowants to teach others tobe grinders” sites. In themiddle there are playerswho are not brandnew, anddo enjoypoker, although theydonot want todedicate their lives tobeingmulti- tabling, rakeback-accumulating “small- stakespros.” I targeted that crowd, since it felt like they were not spoken to very often and there was a gap in themarket. SitNGoes are a great way to get some poker experience, and thebigger tournamentsare fun for the novices, so that was the initial direction I decidedon. Sit and Go Planet is available in eight languages, and you have a number of other sites that are in other languages. Howmany languages do you speak? Do youmanage sites in languages youdon’t speak? I only speak English. I do live in Hungary (long story) and sometimes “attempt” to speakHungarian – although generally people look at me like I just walked up and announced that their pet dog died, which can be a pain in the ass whenyou’re trying toorder abeer. I spotted and filled gaps in the market five or six years agowith bonus searches inRussian, Polish, Hungarian, Romanian andmorewithmy “BonusClub” themed sites. At the time the big affiliate players were not active in those countries, and I was able to rankverywell. Now things have changed in two ways. First, the bigger sites came in and it is now harder to rank for the money terms (still possible, just harder).Also theboom is over in those countries, and any player who is good enough to make a profit in Eastern Europe will get together with “a friend of my cousin’s friend” for an under-the-table rakeback/cash back deal. What you find is that they either deposit $20 and then give up, or theydowell but you suddenly lose them – killing off the averagevalue. I do not blame the individuals, since the extra money goes a long way in some locations. This is frustrating from a businessperspective, though. Russia is adifferent beast altogether,with more money and a lot of keen players. There are now legal issues poppingup in Russia which prevent me from investing too many resources there, although I remain active. There are still opportunities out there. I did a Spanish version of SNG Planet recently, targeting Latin America, and maybe I’ll also become the first tourna- ment strategy site in Chinese at some point down the line! All of your sites are poker-themed. You posted recently that youmight decrease the all-poker-all-the-time sites by 30 percent. Any plans to branch out into other areas this year? Yes, I have a site in development at the moment which will broaden my portfolio into other verticals. This site is themed on “High Tech Gamblin’” andwill focus on tablets and phones, with a full mobile version with side menus + mini-graphics right from the start.Rigorous testingof casinos, sportsbooks and poker sites on different devices will be central to the content of this site, and I’maiming for 500+pagesby the endof theyear. This isthefirstnewproject inafewyearsto getme trulyexcited–nobodyhasclaimed the mobile device market properly yet – so there is ahugeopportunity. MARK PlanetMark GPWAAffiliate InterviewSeries