Next up in our ‘Women in Gaming‘ series is Elaine Gardiner, Affiliate Operations Manager for Betsson Group.
Elaine has been in the igaming industry for over 11 years and comes with a wealth of
knowledge in affiliation. She is currently heading up the affiliate team for the Gaming Innovation Group (GiG) brands (Zecure), after they were recently acquired by Betsson Group.
Elaine talks about how she got into the industry, what her advice would be to women looking to get started in affiliate marketing and more.
Affiliate Industry Review: You’ve been in affiliate marketing for a while now. How have things changed in terms of gender equality since you first started in this space?
Elaine Gardiner: “Back when I started over 11 years ago, there weren’t many female affiliate managers around – or females in marketing roles at all. It was a very male-dominated industry at the time. I remember some of the comments from my manager at the time, that wouldn’t go down too well nowadays! But I learned to develop a thick skin and hold my own when dealing with comments of that nature.
“Nowadays, there’s a more focus on gender equality. At Betsson we have 40% women in the company, which is really refreshing to see. Betsson even has a network for women called WIBE (Women in Betsson) to promote equality and the empowerment of women within the igaming industry, and where women at Betsson can network and inspire each other. Betsson is also a member of the All-In Diversity project, which is an industry-driven initiative to benchmark diversity, equality and inclusion for the global betting and gaming sector.”
AI: What are some things that you would like to see change in the above respect in the coming years?
EG: “I think we’ve already made a huge progress with a lot of things, and we’re now seeing more women in managerial roles. However, I would like to see more favourable conditions if women choose to have a family. I’m speaking about Malta specifically, as that’s where I’m based.”
AI: What are the biggest career challenges you’ve had to overcome and which skills were key in achieving this?
EG: “I think one of my biggest challenges can be managing a team. Not only do you have to manage a team, you have to deliver for your own role as well. I like to keep everything running smoothly so the key is to be organised, listen and ask questions.
“I’ve dealt with so many personalities over the years that I’ve learned to adapt my approach to each person. One thing I like to do is give each team member a booked slot of my time each week with no set agenda. It’s their time to use as they wish; I find that it really helps in strengthening your working relationship and you usually end up covering a variety of topics.”
AI: On an affiliate marketing level, how do you see the industry evolving within iGaming as we enter the recession and beyond?
EG: “Sports aside, we’ve seen things remain pretty stable on the casino side of things. However, with regulated countries putting measures in place during COVID, it does the opposite of protecting players and pushing them to unlicensed operators. I see brands and affiliates spreading their target markets further.
“Another aspect that we need to work on is lack of physical events. I’m already starting to miss seeing peers and affiliates at these events, so I’m going to have to get creative with some online networking and relationship building.”
AI: Who have been the biggest role models throughout your career, either famous or not?
EG: “Not a female, but I have to say my husband-to-be Ricky (as cheesy as that is!). He actually helped me get my first job in iGaming and has been an invaluable resource of advice over the years. I don’t usually mix home and work, but I think after 11 years he deserves some credit.
“The best advice I’ve had is ‘pick up the phone’. So anytime conversations get heated, or I need to have a difficult conversation I always try to do it over the phone or a video call and it really helps. I often find that when working with many nationalities – at Betsson we have around 60 different nationalities in the company – sometimes words get taken the wrong way when there is no tone of voice in the text.
AI: What one key piece advice can you give to young women starting out in Affiliate Marketing today?
EG: “Don’t be afraid to say no’. It’s easy to want to please affiliates, but you don’t need to do a deal with everyone that lands in your inbox. Sometimes it’s not meant to be and it’s ok to say no. Likewise, content requests, link requests, is also ok to say no to.
“In the past, I had a very large affiliate ask for a link back from our brand’s home page. Now I find this a little cheeky, because I know they are trying their luck as some brands will give a link (but that’s another article about SEO!), so I just said no, and I can’t believe they even asked, and they were like ‘it was a worth a try’. So some people will push their luck, but stand your ground.”