We track down some of the most established names in the affiliate space for our Affiliate Profile.
This week, wag.io founder Roo Wright reflects on his ascent through the sector, offers advice to fledgling affiliates and gives his predictions on the future of the industry.
Affiliate Industry Review: Can you begin by introducing your history in the igaming and affiliate space, and describing how you landed your current role with wag.io. What made you change track from being a successful affiliate at BingoPort to providing technology that helps affiliate managers keep their programmes compliant?
Roo Wright: I cut my teeth as an affiliate manager for a US facing operator before the UIGEA came into effect in 2006. During my time in that position, I was head hunted by Noel Hayden from Jackpot Joy after meeting him at a CAP conference in Miami.
He asked me to spearhead their launch of the brand into the US market which never happened due to UIGEA. Noel and I worked out a deal for me to keep working for Jackpot Joy and I helped them get their UK facing affiliate program in order.
During this period I was taking a keen interest in exactly how affiliates where generating traffic and revenue! I set up many tests sites so I could get to grips with how you could become a successful affiliate.
I left JackpotJoy and teamed up with Scott Logan to launch Bingoport.co.uk and another 1200 WordPress websites with a custom CRM designed to target niche, long tail keywords. We grew to send more than 5000 acquisitions per month at one stage which was staggering to us!
We started many operator sites after this as we could direct traffic to our brands and make effectively a higher commission.
In 2014 Scott and I needed a change, and we voted to sell our company to Gaming Realms PLC. Scott stayed on to help in the earnout targets while I took a break and looked for new avenues of interest.
I have always had a good grasp on technology, and when the issue of affiliate compliance came to the industries attention, I saw an opportunity to capitalise on this and started Wag.io.
Wag.io is an affiliate compliance application that has just had its 2.0 release and is getting a massive 10 out of 10 reviews from our users. It’s been a hard slog to get the product to where it is today, but it has certainly paid off!
AI: What advice would you give to budding igaming firms looking to build a successful, compliant affiliate program? Why is compliance so key for affiliate growth?
RW: Firstly make a plan! A solid plan for getting the right people who know their stuff, and have the right experience! Churn amongst affiliate managers is high due to an inability to make change within the operation and a lack of training into how to do their jobs that leads to poor KPI performance.
Look for heads who have been in the role for a substantial period with a proven record and pay them what they ask to come and work for you. It’s worth it!
Next look at the platform for your tracking system. There are many out there, and each has unique points of difference. Apart from making sure they track correctly, look at how easy they are to use for both the affiliate manager and the affiliates themselves, what kinds of reports can users generate and how accessible is the data to other software that affiliates might use in their business.
The costs can be disproportionately high to start with due to you growing your program, but getting it right the first time can save a lot of money in the long run! Pick well.
With regards to compliance, what many operators have done is cut their number of affiliates so that the task of managing affiliates becomes manageable.
We have to remember affiliate managers already had an overwhelming amount of duties before compliance became an issue and now a lot of their time is taken in managing compliance, so this has cut the number of affiliates managers in half to a certain degree.
However, there are now tools like Wag.io and others that can reduce the time it takes to manage compliance of affiliates, and in turn, this means that affiliate managers can, therefore, take on more affiliates and thus help grow their programs once more. The Wag.io app has built-in functionality to help identify high-quality affiliates, so it’s much more than a compliance tool.
AI: It’s no secret that the affiliate sector is currently in the middle of a sustained period of upheaval. What are your broad predictions for where the industry is going?
RW: While I see a considerable amount of consolidation in the space with larger affiliates buying up good affiliate sites, I think this presents an excellent opportunity for smaller affiliates to capitalise on the fact that the bigger your affiliate business gets, the less efficient it becomes, and things get missed.
So there will always be gaps opening up, it’s just a matter of finding them. Look for little things that work and then replicate them over and over again until you build yourself a great stream of valuable traffic and income.
The other thing to consider is the opening up of new markets. I see this continuing well into the future to be a valuable new source of traffic and opportunity for both brands and affiliates. Its early days as to what the future holds but now is the time more than ever to get serious about the opportunities that are starting to present themselves.
AI: And finally, what are your hopes and aspirations for wag.io, both short-term and long-term?
RW: Wag.io has been a work in progress, and over the last 18 months, I have been asking all prospective clients what they want in a tool to help with affiliate compliance and what are the issues they are facing in the management of their affiliates.
Wag.io has addressed these issues and so much more and with the release of our Version 2, which is a complete rebuild of our Version 1 product. We are now able to offer a far superior solution that does deliver its promise of helping affiliate managers get it all done while assisting brands to protect themselves from fines which I only see getting more extensive and more frequent!