Viorel Stan at PM Talks: Indicators of Successful Affiliate Marketing in iGaming

Viorel Stan is a young and ambitious entrepreneur in the iGaming industry, known for his innovative approach to business. He is the founder and CEO of GSH Media and SlotsCalendar, and his journey in the online gambling industry began in 2011 when he joined EveryMatrix. Since then, he has successfully established himself as a dynamic and driven leader in the industry.

I talked to Viorel to better understand his journey and business objectives. We explored current trends in affiliate marketing and discussed his personal preferences and strategies for success in the affiliate business.

How would you describe modern affiliate marketing compared to what it was a few years ago when you started? Would you highlight any new trends or drastic changes?

In the past, the standard affiliate used to be a small company or a “lone wolf” working with a few freelancers or friends. Now it’s more about the big companies having the capital to improve their flagship brands constantly and kill competitors by acquiring the high-potential ones while they are still small.

As long as there are enough big players in the market and no monopoly, I see this change with good eyes because it creates a more competitive environment, and the player will benefit the most.

What 3 pieces of advice would you give anyone starting an affiliate project, considering your huge background

I have three simple pieces of advice:

  • Build products for the users
  • Create and follow your plan!
  • Focus on the main goal

These rules are probably known by everybody but mastered only by a few.

What is the indicator of successful affiliate startups?

Customer retention is the best indicator of a good product. You are on the right track if you can retain your customers, make them come back, and recommend your product to their friends.

What are the most common fraud types that new affiliates should be prepared for?

Although the market is getting increasingly regulated, with multiple control entities, unfortunately, much fraud is still happening. The most common ones which all affiliates should be prepared for are:

  • Shaving – Artificially reducing the affiliate commissions by reporting lower or negative GGR values. Another method of “shaving” is increasing the cost artificially (bonus costs, platform, etc) to decrease the affiliate commission base.
  • Untagging – Removing referred players’ affiliate tags to avoid payment of future commissions.
  • Unlicensed casinos – This category includes all the abovementioned threats. When you work with an unlicensed casino, you expose your business to many risks, harming the entire ecosystem of the iGaming industry.

What was the first indicator that one of your most popular projects, SlotsCalendar, has the potential to become successful?

They say the first million is the most difficult to make. The same story also applies to the first FTD in the iGaming industry. On a more serious note, we never doubted Slotscalendar’s potential. From day one, it was crystal clear to us that players would love our product once it was launched, and we would become one of the most competitive brands in the industry. It was a matter of time until SlotsCalendar received the “glory” it deserved.

What are the indicators of an already failed affiliate project? Should entrepreneurs quit the project immediately?

Although each entrepreneur is pouring their blood and sweat into their projects, we should be able to remain cold-blooded and keep our feelings away from the business during critical situations.

If you built a proper plan with easy-to-follow KPI’s it should be easy to understand when the project is not performing.

Good reporting and smart KPI’s are crucial for any business because you achieve what you measure. If there is a significant discrepancy between reality and plan, it is better to let it go and focus your energy on something else.

What regions do you consider the most dynamic and growing for iGaming affiliate marketing?

The USA market opened a few years ago, and is still very dynamic due to the constant growth of the reglemented states and the addition of new ones. LATAM is exploding at this moment as well, but overall, we see growth in all the emerging GEOs, including Asia and Europe.

What is the main scope of focus today at GSH Media and other major projects of yours?

“Dream big or go home” and I can say we are not going home! Since its inception, GSH’s vision has been to become a leading affiliate for the iGaming industry, and we will not settle for less.

We are all aware that organic growth has its limitations, and that’s why it should not be a surprise if you hear that we go public in the following years.

SlotsCalendar mission is to become the IMDb of online slots, while BetBrain’s mission is to transform itself from the biggest odds comparison website in the market into the most popular social betting platform. When I opened the company four years ago, there were five of us. Last year we had a team of 12, and now we are +50 professionals. This increase in workforce allowed us to run several internal projects in parallel. Almost all the new projects are serving the needs of BetBrain and SlotsCalendar.

We are weeks away from releasing a proprietary platform under which a revamped version of BetBrain will go live. BetBrain used to be the first and the biggest odds comparison website in the market. The new version of BetBrain will come with many additional features, completely transforming the website and making it the #1 social betting platform for all punters.

SlotsCalendar continues to be our leading brand, so we constantly release new functionalities. We want to offer our services in multiple GEOs, on top of the UK and Romania. We fully comply now with the USA market. Brazil, Canada, and Spain will follow shortly.

For our community, the most considerable improvement should go live on SlotsCalendar in the following weeks. With this release, SlotsCalendar will also become a social casino, and players from various GEOs will be able to play their favorite slots for free, compete with their friends and win amazing prizes offered by our company and partners.

Can you name your favorite company and your favorite entrepreneur in terms of their business model, charisma, and productivity?

When I’m not in my “tunnel view” mode, which allows me to see my end goal exclusively, I like to observe everything that happens around me. I take the best out of day-to-day situations and find potential ways to make them even better. Afterward, if I find that quality suitable for my current needs, I’m also working towards applying it.

With this type of mindset, it is close to impossible to name one company or an individual that I admire the most. Instead, I will try to build a “Frankestine” individual based on the qualities that I appreciate from the industry leaders with whom I had the pleasure of interacting:

  • Ebbe Groes | Charisma & Building outstanding teams
  • Stian Hornsletten | Closing the deals
  • Sacha Dragic | Sensing business opportunities
  • Doina Stefanescu | Operational Skills
  • Eman Pulis | Networking
  • Levon Nikoghosyan | Professionalism

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