Mediainvesting – iGaming Voice by Yeva
Paul Puolakka from Mediainvesting went into detail about the hardships and challenges casino affiliates face in the iGaming industry, speaking from over 20 years of experience.
Yeva: Tell us about your journey in the affiliate industry. What were the early challenges?
Mediainvesting was founded as a DIY project in 2017. This was largely because we lacked the funds and resources at the time to outsource any work, and had to do everything ourselves.
Although the road was fraught with challenges, we´ve learned a lot from past mistakes and incorporated the lessons into our evolving business philosophy. Without the grinding work ethic combined with the blind belief in what we were doing, the company would not exist as it does today.
My personal journey in iGaming started in 2014, working in various affiliate marketing positions. I joined Mediainvesting in March 2021, and from the start got along well with the founder and Director Teemu Salminen. With a strong cooperation built on honesty and transparency , I soon joined the ranks of Mediainvesting when the opportunity arose. And with my previous expertise established, I did not hesitate to take a leap into the affiliate side of the business.
My experience with affiliate business strategy combined with a strong understanding of the operators has proven an important combination. As a company, we clearly understand where both the challenges and the opportunities reside.
Yeva: Tell us about your biggest lesson(s) learned throughout your journey.
Personally, I´d say that it’s important to never stop learning and to never give up. Learning from mistakes and trying to see opportunities in everything is vital to success. Financial remuneration is nice, but for me it’s not a great motivator. In the long run it’s more important to find a purpose in everything that you do, and seek fulfilment through that.
Additionally, understanding the power of mutually beneficial long-term partnerships is the key to success. If you only look for short-term gains it will eventually backfire. This goes for both affiliate and operator partnerships.
Yeva: In the context of a business partnership, are you more drawn to affiliates rather than operators? If so, why/why not?
As an affiliate company focusing on a B2B cooperation business model, casino operators are our main clients. However, we do have several different partnerships and agreements with various companies that operate in the iGaming industry.
As for today, we have a portfolio that rangers from online gaming sites such as Bonusetu, Viabonus.com and Bonusninja to leading crypto news site in Finland Bitcoinkeskus.com , amongst these we have several projects on the pipeline.
Yeva: Having almost 2 decades of experience in the affiliate business, what advice would you give to newcomers?
Never stop learning. Learn about the industry and be humble. When I quit my well paid job in Finland and relocated to Malta at 30 years old, I was forced to start from the very basics; Customer Support. In doing this, I learned what the customers really needed, and this bought my ticket to the iGaming world. Once I started to network with other industry entities, I quickly learned that affiliate marketing was my calling.
One should never underestimate the value of the daily grind. The iGaming industry is not easy, but if you are determined to achieve something, you´ll find a way to do it.
Yeva: What characteristics would you like to see in operators when starting a partnership?
Honesty and transparency are the most important characteristics. When working in the affiliate department you must treat your partnerships as clients, and the client always comes first.
Yeva: Has Covid19 had any impact/effect on your business?
Like many online industries, Covid19 gave us an opportunity to focus on the things we could control. Some of our operations – namely Sportsbook and a few other related campaigns- were affected by Covid as all the major sports events were canceled. However, we had more time to focus on our Casino marketing, and were able to spur on positive growth in areas that could still function normally. This refocusing helped us decide to put more emphasis on the Casino and Cryptocurrency verticals.
As far as remote working is concerned, that was a model we adopted before Covid hit, so not much change in that department.
Yeva: How do you deal with the unexpected drop in your organic traffic? What tools/techniques do you use to understand the core reason for the issue?
We monitor traffic very closely and implement changes immediately. We´re very lucky that our COO Joni Oinonen happens to be a SEO Wizard armed with an analytical mind, and he does a good job of keeping us on the leading edge. We´ve also recently hired another person to help on the tracking and tech side.
We have several different techniques and tools that we use to ensure that we´re always on top of things.
Yeva: Which are your strongest markets besides Finland? Are you planning on expanding your scope?
Yes, Finland has definitely been our strongest market and we have no doubt that with this team we will be very successful in other markets as we venture out.
We´re looking at several different markets globally, with Canada and New Zealand being the ones I can reveal at this moment. We´ve recently soft-launched our global projects (Viabonus.com and Bonusninja.com) and are working relentlessly to build the content and traffic for these sites.
Yeva: What aspects set Medianinvesting apart from other affiliate businesses?
We seek to find the most efficient way to do things and we have a very low hierarchy in our company. We also analyze all results and constantly seek ways to bring the best outcome for us and the clients.
We are a group of skilled entrepreneurs from various backgrounds, and our combined expertise results in great outcomes. Most of us started cooperating with the founders in one way or another, and through honest professionalism and a shared vision, became a part of the company.
I think this has been a key factor for our success. Our personal relationships developed alongside our professional ones, and we get along very well both at work and in our free time.
Yeva: How important is building a community within the business? What is the relationship like with your customers?
It’s always important to find like-minded people in the industry and we´ve built very strong personal and business partnerships over the years. It’s a great industry to be in and I’m very much looking forward to seeing the industry people face to face at the next iGaming conference!
Yeva: What measurements do you take in order to establish communication with your customers?
How important is BeGambleAware to your business? At what point does your aim for profit stop at the expense of your customers?
BeGambleAware and other similar organizations are very important for our business and the iGaming industry in general. We´re always very transparent and honest in everything we do, and believe customers should have easy access to information about problem gambling and responsible gaming. This is reflected in our site content and the resources we provide.
This includes providing the necessary information and resources pertaining to gambling problems and responsible gaming. We´ve de-listed casinos in the past that were found not adhering to local regulations or responsible gaming standards.
We´ve also added features on our websites (such as Viabonus.com) which give the users the ability to leave casino ratings as well as pros and cons. We will publish these customer-based reviews, whether they´re positive or negative.
Yeva: Do you ever plan on becoming an operator at some point? If so, why/why not?
For the time being, we focus on building our affiliate brands. We´re really good at that, so that is our main focus at the moment.
Yeva: Do you plan on adopting more technological solutions in the future?
Yes definitely. There are a lot of new aspects being currently implemented, and no plan of slowing that down in the near future.
Yeva: Tell us a bit about yourself as a person. What are your hobbies and main goals in life and regarding business?
For me, it’s important to have both a balance and a contrast in my life. I love the hustle of city life, but I also enjoy spending time outdoors. I’m really looking forward to the downhill skiing season starting again, I really got addicted last season when I lived the whole winter at a ski resort! Besides that I enjoy various other sports, going to the gym, travelling and reading whenever I get the chance.
When it comes to business, I am motivated to achieve the goals I’ve set for Viabonus.com as well as our other projects.
Interviewee: Paul Puolakka