US-Facing Online Casino Affiliate Programs See Steep Drop in Conversions: And the Fall Won't Help

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While sports betting takes hold in the United States, online casino affiliates who have long embraced internationally-based websites (also known as "offshores") that are accessible here are noticing a steep downturn in the conversion percentages.  And this trend is likely to continue.

What the Hell is Happening?

Tech giants such as Apple have had to bow to pressures over privacy.  As such, Apple in the past year only allows for a tracking cookie to last no more than 24 hours via their Safari browser.  The ability to track cookies will completely be eliminated some time this fall. Safari easily accounts for a quarter of all Web users, a significant chunk where the online casino affiliate is concerned.

Unless an affiliate regularly converses with fellow affiliates, whether on message boards or at conferences, he or she may not be aware that others are experiencing the same downturn.

“The sign-ups are pretty well the same for me but i see that NDP no. is smaller. Also, the value of the players seems to be down too,” remarked one affiliate when the question was posed at  "NDP" refers to Net Depositing Player.

Responses included:

“Yep - mine have been steadily falling for a few months - it's pretty terrible actually.”

"Thats interesting, thought my rankings have just been slipping a bit... But I have been doing exceptionally bad the past 3 months.... Its caused me to put in a little more work, trying to get my rankings back up, but maybe its a bit more then just that.. ".

"This month is off to a weak start for me. I'm getting a decent amount of clicks and downloads, but signups and deposits have dropped off quite a bit."

"I've had a small increase in sign ups, but a significant decrease in the number of deposits, and deposit amounts."

"I've been using bovada/bodog/ignition/ for all USA traffic for a few months now and conversions have been pretty horrible when compared to UK brands.  Plenty of signups but when it comes to depositors things really drop hard at the moment."

These later comments speak volumes.  Gambling911 has observed that a significant number of folks who sign up an hour or two ahead of a major sporting event such as the Kentucky Derby tend to only deposit under $50 or realize they are unable to deposit funds so soon before the posted starting time.  Whereas individuals who open their accounts with more money will visit a website only to sign up and deposit days later once they have obtained the funds necessary.  By then, the tracking cookie often has expired, hence no credit.

Trust us when we say that the online sportsbooks at least are having a banner business period right now, so this is not about gamblers being tight with their money, quite the opposite

A reliance on cryptocurrencies could also be playing a role in diminished conversions.  When we throw in a third party solution such as bitcoin, it is easy to see how referral credits could be lost in the process. 

A common theme is that affiliates are still performing relatively well in the European market.

Contributing factors: Samsung tops the smartphone market throughout Europe in overall sales with 15.2 million and a 33.1 percent market share.  Tracking cookies are less likely to be blocked by default.  European online gambling sites have far fewer obstacles standing in the way of payment processing as well.

Shift to the Pay Per Head

Instead of receiving a cut of losses from players, often times in the 25% to 45% range, the Pay Per Head allows one to receive a full 100% of the profits providing they have full control over players as opposed to blindly sending gamblers to sites and only having accessing to a customer ID.  The Pay Per Head model is not for everyone for this very reason.  Most online casino affiliates do not maintain an intimate relationship with the gamblers they refer.  Sportsbook affilites typically do.  Sports handicappers, as an example, will typically send their clients to a specific sportsbook and move them elsewhere if they are no longer satisfied with the relationship.

Online casino site owners with significant traffic can simply request that individuals sign up with their affiliate site directly then set them up with the virtual or live dealer online casino.  The affiliate will only pay a small fee (as low as $5) to the Pay Per Head weekly.  It is best to find Pay Per Head businesses that only require payment for active customers.

If one of your customers loses $1000 in a given month and is active all four weeks of that month, you might receive $400 for 40% of losses.  With the Pay Per Head model, you will receive the full $1000 minus weekly fees that could amount to as little as $40, resulting in a $960 return. 

What to Consider:

  • While the Pay Per Head model is better designed for bookmakers and agents who know their customers, savvy online casino marketers can tap into this business provided they have full control over their clients.  Blind referrals does not work with this model.
  • The Pay Per Head concept provides an affiliate with 100% of the profits minus a small weekly fee and complete control over customers, though it is vitally important that the affiliate maintain a one-on-one relationship with each of the referrals.
  • With volume referrals, it is best to provide clients with more than one option.
  • A direct relationship with clients means no longer relying on cookie tracking, that is fast being eliminated due to Internet privacy protocols.

- Gilbert Horowitz,

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