Alanas Ivšinas, CCO of GG Group Media, joins the latest series of affiliate interviews on Affiliate Grand Slam.
Alanas Ivšinas and the rest of the team from GG Group Media perform their best in crypto sports betting. They only promote legal brands and before promoting a brand they test its payment methods. They strongly believe in being open-minded and in trying new things – follow his story below.
From where did you start your affiliate business and how?
Our company has started a few years ago by Zigmas Pekarskas, when he launched a few projects in the local market. That gave us a positive impact to start some global projects like SmartBettingGuide and SmartCasinoGuide. A couple of years ago, we started to develop these sites and they are going in the right direction.
SmartBettingGuide – global sports site. Available in English, ranking extremely high with top crypto keywords. Now we are translating to ES and PT and we are going to target LatAm; moreover, we will try to achieve success in some specific emerging markets.
SmartCasinoGuide – global casino gambling site available in EN, DE, FI, NO, RU, LV, and EE. In the last quarter, it started growing really well and we managed to rank in some markets. This site has a very positive future and its potential is unlimited; it’s all about the direction we are going to take. We really appreciate partners who were with us from the very beginning, especially the ones who were providing us with content when we were just starting.
Tell us a bit more about your business model, concept, and culture.
We are a small team of 8 people who know how to find a great proportion between rest and hard work. Each one of us knows when and what is needed to do. The main thing is to be open-minded and to try new things. It doesn’t matter whether you fail or not; what matters is what you learn from that failure.
Regarding the business model, we are flexible. Usually, we start to work on rev share or on reasonable hybrid deals, and then we try to adjust and negotiate the best deal possible for both parts.
Talking about business with other affiliates, we are always open for new collaborations and new projects.
What makes your traffic proposition/traffic sites unique?
I would say the main thing is to give the most correct information to our customers, maybe that’s why our traffic quality is top high. What I mean is that if a person comes to our website looking for 100% bonuses, that page needs to show only 100% bonuses. Our goal is not to show incorrect data. Let’s say a customer is looking for the best crypto bookies on our website, so we need to provide only the tested ones and the best ones, and not just random ones only because they gave us the best deal. All bookies on our sites are tested by our own, i.e., before offering them to our customers, we are trying almost every single payment and withdrawal method. This helps to give the top-quality service to our customers.
What helps make your performance successful? What are the main challenges?
We are successful because we follow tendencies of the iGaming industry, regulations, and search console algorithms. We are always adjusting and adapting and making the best out of everything.
Which markets are you eyeing up as a priority and why? Do you see any potential in the emerging markets?
We are extremely strong in EU countries, where we see the best quality. Now we are translating some of our sites into ES and PT. So, we do see potential there; however, it takes time to analyse these markets as they are not our local ones.
What are the main challenges of SEO today and how are they different from just a few years ago?
Back in the day, to rank well, it was enough to have a bunch of back-links, to put correct anchor texts on each page, to create a list of keywords, to analyse first pages, and to create something better than others (quality wise). Nowadays, you need to pay attention to content, on-page SEO, authority of each written text, etc. All consoles are improving, so we do as well. That’s why we have opened an SEO agency – to assist exclusively our best partners, to help them with a proper link building strategy, and to assist with other SEO related things.
Which niches work best for your affiliate marketing, and which are the most profitable? How did you find your most profitable niche?
At the moment, crypto sports betting is where we perform the best – style and quality. Obviously, we only promote legal brands which you can see in all affiliate conferences. As I said above, before on-boarding a brand, we try to test each brand with different payment methods (including crypto). This is because sometimes brands say that they provide all the payment methods when in reality they don’t and sometimes players are looking for specific payment methods. For example, players search for the best PayPal casinos, so it means that if they open the list and see casinos, they need to find the best option. Otherwise, if they can’t deposit, we might lose a potential costumer and the casino loses that customer, so we can’t allow that to happen.
Are you contemplating bringing in investors to scale or grow your business? Or, with such a big M&A market, have you ever contemplated selling the business?
Well, the good thing is that we are good with our current cash-flow. We are able to test new projects and we are doing that. Even now we have started our PPC campaign in UK and IE with top-quality keywords. It’s a very expensive test if you want to compete with the best ones in the market. The only thing what we are missing at the moment is more knowledge and experience. We also test new things, and we learn more. We are only open to those who can bring us more knowledge because on our own we are growing around 2,5-3 times each year; however, if we can get more knowledge about the industry and someone who can suggest what we need to improve, we can potentially grow even more.
How has the fragmentation of regulated markets affected your business? UKGC, Swedish regulator and now also the German regulator is mulling regulating this space.
It doesn’t affect too much, because we are a small team and we can react quickly to all changes. We just need someone to tell us what to change on our sites. Regulations are becoming stricter and we need to follow them. Other companies are changing directions; however, we don’t need to.
How do you manage relationships with multiple operators? What can operators do to increase support with affiliates?
In our company, I’m the one who is taking care of the relationships with all operators, so I can confidently say that brands start trusting only after they see results and I would say that sometimes it’s an issue. When we were small-sized affiliates and bringing just 5-10 first depositors a month, only one brand helped us with content, money, etc. Now we do much more and everyone is just offering everything. The problem is that there are a lot of incompetent affiliate managers who just want the traffic and they don’t want to think out of the box, however that’s the reality. Just a small tip for them: “Be creative and don’t be afraid of challenges which you will face in gambling a lot.”
Have you ever been to SiGMA? SiGMA Europe, Africa, Asia, or Americas – which of these four expo shows would you likely book on your diary for 2021, COVID-19 permitting?
I wish to visit all of them.
Tell us a bit about yourself – after all, business is done with people, not just companies! Your hobbies, favorite book, favorite quote, whether you are into Gaming yourself, etc.
I’m a very simple and straight forward guy. Sometimes even too straight and forward, furthermore sometimes too sarcastic. Back in a day I was dreaming to become a basketball player as mostly every boy in Lithuania, however things in your life aren’t always up to you, so for now I stayed a loyal fan of sports. Thanks to my girlfriend and colleagues, this winter I found out that I like winter sports like snowboarding, so I will definitely continue to learn this new passion.
Not sure if it’s a quote I heard somewhere, or it’s me, but it’s something I like in negotiations: “There is a thin line between bluffing and lying. You can always bluff, but never lie”. So maybe that’s why I choose to be honest with everyone.