Paul Puolakka at PM Talks: Sharing Knowledge Drives Affiliate Marketing Forward

As the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of Mr. Gamble, Paul is entrusted with the comprehensive oversight of the company’s marketing initiatives, spanning branding, customer acquisition, and retention. He collaborates closely with the marketing and sales teams to devise and execute strategies aimed at propelling growth and revenue. The team’s coverage of the best online casino bonuses recently earned them the title of Best Bonus Comparison Affiliate of 2022 and Best Affiliate Branding 2023.

Artyom Matevosyan of PartnerMatrix had a chance to talk to Paul about his journey in iGaming affiliate marketing and his current activities with Mr. Gamble.

Paul, can you share with us your professional background? How did you start and what brought you to the iGaming affiliate industry?

Absolutely! My professional journey commenced with B2B and B2C account management roles at a Finnish telecom company. During my tenure, I acquired invaluable experience in managing complex business relationships and refining my managerial skills.

In 2014, I decided to venture into the iGaming industry, starting as an affiliate manager. This role served as my gateway into the exhilarating world of affiliate marketing and performance-driven strategies, where I found my passion for digital marketing and branding.

Over the years, I ascended the ranks in the iGaming landscape, holding such positions as Head of Affiliate Marketing and iGaming consultant. In 2021, I undertook a significant career transition as the CMO for an online casino and crypto marketing agency. This shift allowed me to explore new facets within the industry and broaden my skill set to encompass SEO and branding.

Interestingly, my foray into the iGaming affiliate industry was rather unexpected. Seeking a break from routine and yearning for new experiences, a summer romance led me to someone working in the iGaming sector. Intrigued by the dynamic nature of the industry, I decided to embark on this adventure, despite having limited experience with online gambling. What began as a temporary diversion from my everyday life in Finland morphed into a defining moment in my career.

The fast-paced and ever-evolving iGaming landscape captivated me, and I became passionate about making a difference in this space. As I seized opportunities to contribute my expertise, I found myself driving growth and success in the iGaming affiliate industry, now serving as the CMO of Mr. Gamble.

In addition to my professional journey, this experience also led me to the enchanting island of Malta, a place I had never visited but had only seen in some World War II documentaries, a genre I deeply enjoyed due to my love for history. Living and working in Malta exposed me to its rich history, cultural heritage, and vibrant community, making it feel like a second home.

My experience proves that the world works in mysterious and often serendipitous ways. Years ago, I would have never dreamed of being where I am today, actively improving the iGaming industry together with other people I respect and admire.

Can you tell us more about Mr. Gamble, its current position in the market, and your role in the company?

Mr. Gamble is an award-winning casino affiliate website, and we take immense pride in providing players with honest reviews of bonuses and gambling sites in the UK, Canada, New Zealand, and the Nordics. Just take a look at the official EveryMatrix casino page and you’ll understand how we built a name for ourselves – we’re thorough, transparent and provide tons of value to players.

Our goal is to be the go-to platform for players in these regions, a trusted place they can rely on for authentic information. We want to be more than just an average affiliate. We’ve achieved significant recognition in the industry, winning and being shortlisted for several prestigious iGaming awards.

Notably, we received the Bonus Comparison Affiliate of the Year award in 2022 for our in-depth coverage of top casino bonuses, and most recently, we were honored with the Affiliate Branding of the Year award in Amsterdam. These accolades underscore our dedication to excellence and signify that we’ve evolved into more than just a typical affiliate.

As the CMO, my role revolves around spearheading our marketing efforts. I lead a fantastic team, collaborating with various stakeholders to achieve our goals. Building partnerships with other companies in the iGaming world, such as online casinos, game providers, and payment platforms, is a key aspect of my responsibilities. These collaborations help us expand our reach and offer even more value to players and clients.

Creating engaging content for our website and social media, tailored to the preferences of players in our focus markets, is one of the most rewarding parts of my job. We aim to provide players with valuable insights and information they can genuinely connect with and enjoy.

Looking ahead, we’re excited about the future of Mr. Gamble. With our New Jersey license, we’re actively exploring opportunities in the US market, aiming to make a meaningful presence and offer our expertise to players there.

Overall, being part of Mr. Gamble is a fantastic opportunity to make a real difference in the iGaming industry. Our commitment to excellence and innovative approach sets us apart as iGaming marketing partners. We’re dedicated to shaping the iGaming landscape, fostering strong partnerships, and continuing to provide top-notch service to players and clients in our focus markets and beyond.

The affiliate market has become more popular recently. What directions do you forecast it will go? Which affiliate channels will be active, and which will fade?

One major factor that will shape the landscape of the iGaming affiliate industry is the integration of AI (Artificial Intelligence). While its exact impact remains uncertain, we are keenly observing developments and trends. AI has the potential to revolutionize various aspects of affiliate marketing, from data analysis to improving user experiences.

We place significant emphasis on branding and user experience (UX/UI), creating a memorable and user-friendly platform. Our goal is to provide players with a seamless and enjoyable experience while exploring our website and engaging with our content. The shift towards mobile usage in the iGaming industry is undeniable and is expected to continue growing. As a result, we prioritize optimizing our platform for mobile users to cater to the majority of our audience.

In addition to these industry dynamics, we also pay close attention to Google updates and their impact on SEO efforts and rankings. Google’s constant updates can lead to fluctuations in search rankings, affecting our website’s visibility and traffic. As a result, we have a dedicated team that continuously monitors industry trends and SEO best practices.

Trust is becoming more critical for affiliates to start partnering with operators. What are the main criteria of trust between affiliates and operators?

Trust is indeed the bedrock of affiliate marketing, and it has been since its inception. As an affiliate, establishing trust with operators is crucial, and there are several key criteria that play a vital role in building and maintaining this trust.

Transparency is at the heart of a trustworthy relationship between affiliates and operators. Clear communication about the terms and conditions, including details about the admin fee and any other deductions made from commissions, is essential.

Openly sharing this information ensures that both parties are on the same page and eliminates any potential misunderstandings.

Timely payments are another critical aspect of trust between affiliates and operators. Affiliates provide valuable services, and they should not have to wait or chase for their rightful payments. Consistently delivering payments on time demonstrates reliability and fosters a strong sense of trust.

In the course of business, sometimes unexpected challenges arise. It is vital for both affiliates and operators to be honest and transparent about any unforeseen issues. Facing these challenges head-on and communicating openly helps maintain trust even in challenging times.

But most importantly, you should never underestimate the power of human connection. So, attend the industry conferences, get to know people, network and keep your promises. That’s a pretty good start!

Many startup affiliates are looking for the best region or the best niche to start. What advice would you give them to look for in the sense of area, niche, and marketing channels?

I was looking forward to this question because I truly believe sharing knowledge is what drives affiliate marketing forward. From my own experience, starting as a new affiliate can be daunting, but here are some tips to help you find the best region, niche, and marketing channels.

Firstly, choose a niche that genuinely excites you! Don’t follow trends just because they’re popular at the moment. Your passion for the niche will keep you motivated when things get tough.

Do some research, but don’t stress too much. There’s never been a better time to learn, with loads of free resources on YouTube and industry forums. Check out SEO tools like Ahrefs and Semrush to gain insight into what’s trending.

Networking is key, so attend industry conferences. Talk to people, ask lots of questions, and learn from their experiences.

Don’t expect instant success! Affiliate success takes time and hard work. You’ll need to persevere and stay persistent.

Experiment with different marketing channels to see what works best for your niche. It could be creating engaging content, mastering social media, or excelling at email marketing. Experiment and have fun with it!

Remember, it’s all about the journey. Stay curious, keep learning, and follow your passion. With dedication and a bit of hustle, you’ll find your niche and excel in the affiliate game.

What global changes can happen in the future with affiliate marketing?

iGaming has been a bit behind on tracking and data utilization, but we’ll see more of these features being integrated into iGaming affiliates. This means more accurate data that can be used to create tailored user experiences.

As gambling regulations continue to evolve, they’ll shape the landscape for iGaming affiliates. We’ll see a divide between those who focus on regulated markets and those in unregulated territories.

Competition in the affiliate space will become even more fierce as everyone becomes more professional and savvier. It’ll be a challenging but thrilling environment for affiliates to thrive in.
Branding, just like what Mr. Gamble has, will be a critical factor for success. Building a strong brand identity will be more important than ever to stand out in the crowd and connect with users.

In addition to the exciting changes in the affiliate market, we can’t forget the impact of evolving Google updates. As search engines continue to refine their algorithms, these updates will undoubtedly influence search rankings and visibility.

Staying on top of these changes will be crucial for affiliates to maintain their online presence and adapt their strategies accordingly. At Mr. Gamble, we’re committed to keeping a close eye on these updates, continuously optimizing our content, and ensuring our website’s relevance in search results.

By staying agile and adapting to these changes, we’ll continue to provide valuable content and excellent user experiences.

Can you name up to three of your favorite brands and entrepreneurs and explain your choice?

I’ll start with the obvious – Apple. It has always stood out to me as a brand that consistently delivers innovative and user-friendly technology. From the first Macintosh to the revolutionary iPhone and iPad, their products have had a significant impact on how we interact with technology. They prioritize seamless integration and a simple user experience, which has reshaped the tech industry and made a huge difference in our daily lives.

Mercedes-Benz is a brand that I admire for its dedication to luxury, engineering, and safety in the automotive world. Their commitment to quality craftsmanship and cutting-edge design has set them apart. Beyond just making great cars, they’ve been pioneers in safety features and sustainability initiatives, making a positive impact in the automotive industry.

Supercell, a company from my home country Finland, has earned my respect for its ability to create highly engaging mobile games. Their titles like Clash of Clans and Clash Royale have captured the hearts of millions. I appreciate how they prioritize gameplay and user experience over aggressive monetization, creating games that truly resonate with their audience.

They’ve been instrumental in shaping the mobile gaming landscape. These brands have shown consistent excellence in their respective industries, and I find them inspiring for their impact and dedication to creating products that enrich our lives.

I hope that one day, when another person is asked to list their three favorite brands, Mr. Gamble will get a mention.


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