2020 Affiliates Rewind: A year in turmoil
2020 has undoubtedly been a rough year for every industry. The year started out successfully but soon enough, we were all hit with the reality of having to wear face masks, quarantine at home and practice social distancing.
It feels so foreign to look at pictures from iGaming Affiliate conferences now. Seeing everyone huddled together in small spaces with no masks or sanitizer in sight is weird. It was only less than a year ago, but for most of us it has surely felt like a decade. The last affiliates conference was actually held in London back in February, and it was none other than the iGaming Affiliate Conference at the Excel. Safe Affiliate Programs were successfully launched during that conference. Following drinks for all, a certain crowd invited by the programs who make up Safe Affiliate Programs sat down for dinner at ZeroSette. Only a month later, the UK and most other countries were in lockdown.
This period in time was difficult for all governments as they tried to safeguard job security while workers were asked to stay at home. The pandemic hit all businesses across all industries – the affiliate business included.
On the other hand, all online businesses were able to keep going almost completely normally and companies such as Amazon were earning the benefits of a captured audience. It is quite undeniable that anyone who had purchased shares in Amazon before the pandemic arrived will have surely already began planning for retirement!
The online gambling industry led the charge and openly changed the way we marketed to this potential “captive audience” mentality and refrained from cashing-in and exploiting a difficult situation. In reality, casinos were spending their advertising dollars to bring home the message to gamble more responsibly during these tough times. COVID-19 manifested the need to rigorously adapt and expand on advertising standards and compliance regulations.
A shocking amount of operators actually took advantage of the book of regulations and converted this pandemic as an opportunity to get rid of affiliates. Obviously, this never impacted the big media affiliates, but destroyed a few of the smaller ones.
It is no surprise to us that the smaller affiliate tends to be much more demanding. Wanting more, questioning more, complaining more, always asking for more. But if put yourself in their shoes, would you not want to make sure that your efforts were successful, and that your losses were measured? Of course, you would. Therefore, they are more tense about dipping numbers and more demanding since their main goal is to succeed.
Additionally, we have witnessed an increase in absurd questions sent out in the name of “compliance”, all designed at updating the database, but disguised as a shameful limitation on restrictions on search engine marketing of general terms. None of which had anything related to brand protection but everything to do with clearing affiliate programs of competitors.
During times such as these, we should be helping smaller affiliates grow. If we kill this marketing vertical and change the landscape of small independent advertisers who are willing to grow, we would basically be killing off the corner shop and encouraging the big supermarkets.
Despite the dark times, not all of 2020 was disturbing, and there were actually some amazing developments as well. One can only wish that more affiliates would have taken up the opportunity to spend time at the array of virtual conferences that were provided this year. With the disappearance of face-to-face physical conferences, virtual and online conferencing was quickly adopted by everyone who wanted to remain relevant within the world of conferences. After a strong start when SBC hosted the first conference with success, soon others followed.
Many different types of these events were offered, including free workshops, webinars, conferences, and exhibitions that even sometimes left people wondering whether they will ever get time to actually work between virtually visiting every single one of these!
This year, the gaming industry proved that everyone could adjust to the circumstances at hand and function remotely. The combination of modern tools and professional personnel revealed that they can be just as productive as they are when working in a real-life office setting.