Affiliate Q&A - Pavlos Sideris, Director at Double Up Media

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For our latest Affiliate Q&A, we speak with Pavlos Sideris, Director at Double Up Media, an exciting affiliate with global reach. In our chat with Pavlos, we discuss the historic UK iGaming market, understanding player value, along with new regulations in the UK! 

Income Access (IA): Thanks for speaking with us Pavlos! Can you tell us a bit about your background in the iGaming industry and current role with Double Up Media?

Pavlos Sideris (PS): Hi Michael, great to speak with you. Sure, I’ve been involved in the iGaming industry for a little over 13 years now, starting off as a bingo affiliate way back in 2011. My training at that time was in web development and SEO, so affiliate marketing was a perfect match. I’ve always loved playing fruit machines, slots and other casino games.

I’ve created several different iGaming sites over the years, many of which either never went live or only lasted a few months! But, it was all good fun and the lessons learnt along the way were invaluable. Fortunately, a handful of them worked out pretty well and in 2018 I hired my first member of staff, so Double Up Media was officially born.

Today, we have an awesome, growing team of 10 people with exciting plans for the future.

IA: You’ve been involved with the iGaming industry for many years. What’s changed the most about the industry since you began working in it?

PS: The most significant changes for us have been regulation and competition. Both are good though – regulation because it weeds out the rogues and sets a safer, fairer and more transparent environment for players, and competition because it’s great for innovation.

iGaming has exploded in growth in the last couple of decades, but unfortunately that also led to an increase in dishonest practices – hiding significant T&Cs in small print, predatory marketing, and social responsibility failures. Regulation in the last seven years has helped minimize the unfair treatment of players, improve advertising standards and make operators responsible for the well-being of their customers.

For affiliates though, the barriers to entry are trickier than ever. Rewind ten years and it wasn’t uncommon for a ‘bedroom’ affiliate to see relative success, possibly even on part-time hours. Now it’s easily a full-time job with months, possibly years, of investment necessary. A more professional outlook and strategy is also required, no different to launching a business in any other industry. The online space is largely dominated by blue chip, stock exchange-listed affiliate giants, so there are no quick-wins, and anything less than 100% dedication just won’t cut it.

IA: Your latest site, Slot Gods is really taking off in the UK. What tips would you have for affiliates in the UK, where the market is a bit more mature and the audience is already knowledgeable about online gaming?

PS: Ultimately, I think you need to be genuinely passionate about what you do. For players to buy into your service, you need to be experts in your field, offering solid advice and justified recommendations. As you say, the UK audience is savvy enough to know if you’re blagging your way through. You need to understand players’ needs, connect with them, and go above and beyond to gain their trust and give them what they’re looking for. Be real, be honest.

A deep understanding of the industry and your audience also helps create a unique offering that solves a problem.

I’d also recommend finding a niche. It doesn’t matter if you’re an SEO affiliate, PPC, social media or live streamer. Trying to compete with companies that have been around since the dawn of iGaming requires a huge investment in terms of time and money, which is often unrealistic.

IA: An understated part of affiliate marketing in iGaming is the importance of understanding player/traffic value. How do you look to focus on this at Double Up?

PS: The UK market is the largest in Europe, but players are notoriously unloyal. There’s no shortage of players looking to take advantage of welcome offers and other freebies, but the value of these players can range from low to worthless.

With spiralling costs, greater barriers to entry, and more consolidation happening in the industry, UK operators are selective over the traffic they accept, and naturally look for genuine players that stick around.

Understanding the value of our traffic really helps focus our efforts and negotiate better rates. It also protects our reputation, strengthens relationships and supports our long-term strategy. It’s less about volume, more about value.

IA: Following the most recent announcement from the UK Government on slot stake limits, what impact do you think regulations such as these will have on players as well as the wider industry?

PS: The new slot stake limits for under 25s are completely understandable. A £2 maximum stake is more than enough to enjoy slots responsibly and remain within budget without the risk of getting carried away. It came as a bit of surprise to set the limit at £5 for over 25s though, considering the consultations and recommendations proposed by the white paper suggested £15.

Nevertheless, most players who enjoy slots regularly and casually don’t bet more than £5 per spin – those that do are often those at risk, and they need protecting.

With that in mind, I don’t believe the slot stake limits will have a significant impact on most players or the wider industry. However, I am concerned that yet another restriction on the freedoms of those who play responsibly may be one restriction too many.

There must be a point when enough is enough for many players, and the opportunity of playing at blackmarket or crypto casinos with no restrictions on slot stakes, spin speeds, or auto-play (to name a few), becomes more and more appealing – an entirely counterproductive consequence of overregulation.

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Thanks to Pavlos for sitting down with us to chat and be sure to get in touch with this team to discuss any partnerships!