ICEAfrica and the Big African Summit recently took place in South Africa last week and together with a number of prominent iGaming businesses, Affiliate Industry Review attended these events to get the inside scoop on what the African market holds.
Like many who attended the events, we wanted to understand what the potential for growth really looks like on the continent, and in particular, what the common trends are in relation to affiliate marketing as the market begins to regulate.
There were a number of conference sessions to attend with top keynote speakers sharing their experience and insights on various local market opportunities, and so we have put together a list of some of our key takeaways from the event.
Everyone is focused on compliance, regulation and safe gaming practices
A recent gambling compliance report revealed that as little as 20 per cent of the African continent has regulations in place which cover both online and mobile gaming.
Arguably, the regulation of the online and mobile gaming market has been slow moving because of how prominent retail gambling is to the local communities across the continent.
This isn’t to say that the regulation of online and remote gaming isn’t gathering pace, but it’s important to remember that regulators are taking the latest technological advancements available in this industry into account when building their frameworks.
There seems to be a local consensus that regulation of the online space isn’t widespread and regulators seem to be lagging behind, despite online and mobile transactions becoming a preferred method of wagering for customers engaging in these practices.
Along with this sentiment, it is clear that there is insufficient safeguards in place to regulate the online space, which is ultimately leaving punters unprotected, and the regulation of the entire online ecosystem (not just player and operator) still lacking. While the localised infrastructure is ripe for development, a lack of integrated regulatory frameworks which can be applied to local jurisdictions across the continent is still apparent.
Mobility to effect positive change will take time, as governments move towards the implementation of regulatory frameworks and inherited laws, as well as the enforcement of the aforementioned frameworks (a topic which was discussed during the Big African Summit in Cape Town, South Africa).
It will take time, but the one thing that I noticed is that the regulators of local regions are incredibly approachable, and most expressed a keen interest in learning about best practices for online gambling by engaging with experts in objective round table discussions.
Infrastructure for online is present – the industry is ready to grow
Affiliates were inherently positive about the opportunities available to develop online businesses, technology and multi-site advertising networks. There is a keen interest in investing in staff, systems, and businesses to develop brands and establish networks despite the overwhelming uncertainty on regulatory matters.
Some of the lifetime values and total betting volumes discussed in the sessions outlined the opportunity that is present for investment now. Some of these values were incredibly insightful.
Right now there is a consensus that the US is the key market to invest in, however, I don’t think that Africa can be dismissed as an opportunity for growth. There was also a keen interest in esports alongside sports and casino as part of the gambling mix.
Licensed operators are already building strong affiliate networks in this space, and affiliates are building traffic and reselling media at highly profitable rates in the emerging digital ecosystem.
Smartphone penetration is occurring far quicker than previously thought, and the increasing internet connectivity, which has significantly helped the industry boost its target demographic, is prevalent. Costs for WiFi and broadband access is more affordable which opens the continent up for wider marketing opportunities.
The need to take responsible gambling more seriously was also a common theme. With gambling advertising becoming increasingly digital, the opportunities to ensure that vulnerable demographics are shielded from over-exposure was a key talking point.
The future in Africa looks bright – can you afford to miss out?
There is no denying that Africa is a market poised for growth. The numbers and sheer volume of people make it an attractive emerging market to invest in. While it might be considered to be immature in terms of regulatory frameworks, which does present a risk, there is a promising opportunity for any affiliate and operator to still enter and establish their position for future success.
The time is quite literally now to make a decision, to commit to the buy-in and establish business and relationships as the eventual industry regulation unfolds. The point is, you need to be there to see the opportunity and to hear the experiences taking place to build your local relationships as each country develops its own regulatory framework.
The affiliate space is still growing, with mobile marketing and in-app push messaging being the predominant methods of active marketing. However, the search landscape has somewhat been overlooked due to mobile penetration. With this in mind, there are a lot of opportunities for affiliation that have remained unexplored and therefore offer an opportunity.
Ultimately, Africa is going to hold a great opportunity. Now is the time to enter this market which is still in its infancy, and is tipped to explode in growth as regulation rolls forward.
There are going to be risks, but the question is – can you really afford to miss out on an emerging market that is showing fast growth and not support your affiliate business growth?