GPWA Times Magazine - Issue 40- February 2018

A native of Greece and a lifelong, diehard football fan, Kriton Kounelakis has always had a deep passion for the FIFA World Cup. “Growing up in Southern Europe, the World Cup is an event we all look forward to very much,” says the 36-year- old Kounelakis. “It only comes along every four years, so it’s definitely something everyone pays close attention to and makes sure their schedules are clear so they can watch every second.” But as much as he enjoyed the World Cup as a fan during his younger years, Kounelakis’ reasons for looking forward to the action are much different now that he’s spent the last decade working in the iGam- ing affiliate business. The World Cup means big business – not just for the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, which brought in $4.8 billion in revenue in 2014, but for the gambling industry as well. The 2014 World Cup in Brazil helped book- makers turn over £1 billion for the first time in event history, with William Hill reporting that more than 7,000 bets were placed per minute during the busiest mo- ments of the tournament. When Germany beat Argentina 1-0 in the final match, a record £11.5 million was wagered on the outcome. Betfair revealed that its customer acquisition ballooned 181% in the three months ending 31 July 2014, while the ranks of active customers rose 48%. “It’s the single most important event for every European bookmaker,” explains Kounelakis, who joined mybet Partners as head of affiliate marketing last summer. “Unfortunately, that means I don’t get as much free time as I would like to actually watch the games, because we’re so busy. It’s crazy, but it’s still fun.” PLANNING AND PREPARATION The 21st FIFA World Cup kicks off 14 June in Russia, marking the first time it will be played in Eastern Europe. The tournament will pit 32 nations from all over the world against each other in a total of 64 matches across a dozen stadiums located in 11 different cities. The final match will be played on 16 July in Moscow. For gambling affiliates and affiliate programs, World Cup planning and strategizing began nearly a year ago. Kounelakis says he starting having discussions with affil- iates about how to market the event in the mid- to late stages of 2017. Darren Moore, a GPWA member and iGaming affiliate based in the U.K. who goes by the handle “betfinder,” has also had the World Cup on his mind for a long time. “It’s true when they say the early bird gets the worm, so it pays dividends to get some good content produced and distributed, such as previews and World Cup team guides,” says Moore, whose sites include “Then you work on getting quality backlinks to your best pages. Come World Cup time, you could have a really well-ranked page that can make all the difference for your World Cup campaign.” While fellow GPWA member Mattbar agrees that long-lead planning is crucial, there are also certain measures that can be taken in the short term and once the tournament kicks off. “With most sports events you see a big surge pre-event,” he says. “World Cup betting seems to be continuous. It’s like having a six-week-long Cheltenham Festival in terms of activity.” Mattbar adds that it helps to allow World Cup-exclusive content to age for months, or even years – then, as the start of the tour- nament nears, updating regularly throughout the matches becomes crucial. Otherwise, you’ll drop out of rankings very quickly. “Basically, don’t go on holiday during June and July,” says Mattbar. He is also based in the U.K. where he runs a number of sites, including lat- and . As for taking advantage of increased traffic, bonuses and special offers are surefire ways to attract more players. Mattbar says acquisitions and conversions are at their highest during World Cup play, not just because of the larger demographic of people that want to bet on it, but also because of the “ridiculous offers” that bookmakers use to entice punters. “People become blind to offers when they see themeverywhere, but the World Cup is a scenario where you may want to actively promote special free bets or enhanced odds promotions over the standard welcome offers,” he says. “It’s also important to cover the non-sign-up offers, such as extra places for outright bets and in-play free bets. Many World Cup punters are looking for longer-term deals that can add consistent added value over a six-week period.” Moore adds, “Even if it’s just a £10 welcome free bet, it gives you something to shout about. And if you can tie it into your own unique promo code, then all the better.” Moscow photo by Evdoha_spb/Shutterstock 19 W W W . G P W A T I M E S . O R G