Every industry, vertical or niche has its own unique set of characteristics and the world of gaming affiliate offers is no exception. Indeed, even the term “gaming” itself can be a major source of confusion. That’s because “gaming offers” can really refer to two different types of offers altogether. One has to do with video games (particularly social or casual games played on mobile devices or social networks). The other has more to do with gambling, including slots, online casinos, sports betting and poker, among other games.
Contrary to popular belief, online gambling is not illegal in the United States at the federal level, but individual states do have laws, regulations and restrictions in place. Laws can also vary considerably between countries regarding what is and isn’t allowed.
The good news is that, in general, you can make money as an affiliate promoting gaming offers no matter where you are in the world. That said, it is prudent to be knowledgeable about the laws surrounding online gambling as to maximize the performance of your efforts. There’s no point in promoting an online casino in an area where users can’t legally play in an online casino in the first place, right?
With all of this in mind, what is the best way to work with these kinds of gaming offers? What tools are available to you? What methods are the most effective for maximizing your profit and ROI?
The default consideration that many affiliates have when purchasing advertising is to go straight for the major networks. They might look into AdWords or Bing Ads. That’s not the wrong approach, but it is also terribly insufficient.
Seek out relevant gaming sites in your niche and targeted geo. Work out deals with the site owners directly, especially if some of these sites aren’t on the ad networks that you may already be working with. You may be surprised to find that many sites, even with good amounts of traffic, aren’t monetizing themselves to the fullest and this represents a huge opportunity for you to swoop in. It’s more cost-effective and the targeting options are well worth it.
It will take some legwork, but when you nail down the Polish site that focuses exclusively on online slots and you happen to find an offer that specifically targets a slots app for mobile users in Poland, it’ll all be worth it.
Get Very Specific with Split Testing
We certainly shouldn’t be downplaying the potential of working with ad networks either. What you will find is that gaming offers respond very well to pop-unders and pop-overs. These media buying opportunities are usually structured on a PPV/CPV basis with ad rates starting as low as $0.004 per view (i.e., $4 eCPM). DirectCPV is one of the better known names in this space.
Instead of simply running a blanket campaign where your ad budget can get depleted very quickly, run a series of much more targeted split tests. Try one geo over another. Try different sets of keywords. Try pop-ups vs. pop-unders. Test different landing pages and color schemes. Keep split testing until you really narrow down a very specific targeting scheme that maximizes your ROI. The split tests never truly end.
Facebook Ads Are a Gold Mine
Farmville. Candy Crush. Words with Friends. Zynga and other publishers like it already have millions of users who are actively engaged with their games. These players have clearly demonstrated their specific interest in certain types of games and they have shown how enthusiastic they are about downloading and installing these games too. They’re self-selecting!
Facebook offers one of the deepest and most robust targeting schemes available on the web today, because the social network has access to such specific user demographic and activity information. Target gamers based on geographic location, age, and the games that they are already playing. If a user already enjoys playing video poker or slots on Facebook, there’s a very good chance they’d also be interested in other similar gaming offers.
Go to Where Your Users Are
If the payable action on the gaming offers is the installation of a mobile app or game, doesn’t it make sense to target users who are already on their mobile devices? Mobile advertising is one of the fastest growing segments in the market. If you’ve ever encountered the video interstitials in the free-to-play mobile games you play yourself, then you’ve been exposed to mobile advertising. The same is true with any of the ever-present banners inside apps and websites too.
To get started with mobile advertising, some of the key networks you should consider adding to your toolset include Media.net, AdMob by Google, StartApp and Flurry.
Focus on the Bonuses and Freebies
Several affiliate offers in the gaming and gambling space offer incentives for when a user first signs up for a new account, when they deposit a certain amount, or when they install the mobile app. While you may or may not be able to incentivize the offers yourself (be sure to read the terms and restrictions carefully for any offer you wish to promote), you can definitely play up the bonuses that the advertiser is putting forth.
Remember that the main reason why an online casino, for example, might offer up X dollars in free slot play or an automatic doubling of the first deposit up to a certain amount is that it gets people in the door and playing the games. And the gaming personality is such that as soon as the person starts playing, they won’t want to stop. You’ve made your money, the casino makes their money, and the user is having a great time. It’s win-win-win all around.
Given this, the promotional material that you leverage — whether that’s through banners, pop-ups, interstitials, solo ads or anything else — can and should put these bonuses front and center. Instead of promoting the brand of the advertiser or the games available, mention that first-time users get $50 in free play just for signing up, for instance. Similarly, you can showcase recent jackpot winners that the online casino may be highlighting.
You’ve Got to Play to Promote
Give yourself a competitive edge over other affiliates who may be promoting the same gaming offer. If you take the extra step of installing the app or playing the game being promoted yourself, you’ll have that highly valuable first-hand experience that you can then leverage as part of your marketing strategy.
Other affiliates may rely only on what is visible on the front page or on the offer page. If you know how the games look, how easy they are to play, how much fun they are, and why they’re so enjoyable (and more enjoyable that other games, apps or casinos), you can tell your target user all about your own experience and why you’d personally recommend it.
Gain the upper hand with gaming offers. It’s not a gamble when you make the calculated investment and go in with the right strategy.