Gaming Programs Go Mainstream

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Affiliate marketing is a gamble. That's no secret to affiliates rolling the dice every day on new offers and campaigns. Lately, affiliates that generally promote mainstream programs have begun trying their luck with gaming affiliate programs.

This shift from traditional programs to promoting the likes of casino and poker affiliate programs is not accidental. The gaming companies have engaged in outreach via conferences, magazines and other sources to lure affiliates.

The affiliates already promoting the gaming sites are in high demand, and their real estate is pretty much maxed out.

The competition is hearty for affiliates willing to promote programs outside the mainstream. But affiliates have varying tolerances for the types of programs they will join.

In May, I surveyed 248 affiliates on their interest in promoting adult, alcohol, gaming, pharmaceutical and tobacco programs. Affiliates were most comfortable with gaming affiliate programs, with 55 percent answering affirmatively when asked whether they would promote gaming programs. The affiliates found tobacco programs the most objectionable, with only 32 percent saying they would participate in programs related to tobacco.

These numbers work for Lee-Ann Johnstone, marketing manager (affiliates and online media) for GameAccount.

"With proper support and relationship building from affiliate managers, non-gaming affiliates stand the chance of making some great revenues, as this industry can afford to pay top dollar for qualified new leads," Ms. Johnstone said.

The transition from promoting retail affiliate programs to gaming is proving fairly seamless for many affiliates.

"Affiliate sites in other industries often share the same target audience as gaming sites, yet other industries cannot compete with the payouts from gaming affiliate programs," said Riccardo Varisco, director of CasinoBlasters.com.

Alexia Arrizabalaga of the affiliate and marketing department at PartyGaming Marketing (UK) concurs: "Promoting gaming sites is becoming an increasingly attractive business option for affiliate operations that have little or even no previous links with the industry. Operators of sites that offer travel, nightlife and dating are turning to the gaming industry because their audiences respond to gaming opportunites."

PokerAffiliate.com, home to five brands of poker sites, attributes the success of its shift in affiliate recruiting efforts to poker's growing popularity.

"The demographics of the typical poker player are growing wider by the day, and this means that there are even more potential places in which to target the players," said Glen Cadematori, U.S. marketing manager at PokerAffiliate.com. "Affiliates that do not generally promote gaming are eager to test this out and typically see great returns as more and more people recognize the entertainment value of playing poker and casino games online."

Recruiting isn't solely from casino and poker affiliate programs. Other games look to expand their reach. Play65.com, an online backgammon room, also pursues affiliates that usually focus on retail.

"We know usually they don't promote gaming, but that is why we think that backgammon, which is not considered gambling, can be very interesting for that audience," said Elad Ben Yizhak of Play65.com.

Gaming affiliate programs vying for a presence on non-gaming sites is good news for affiliates. Those affiliates who can generate volumes of quality leads are in the power position. They've got retailers and now gaming sites bidding for their traffic.

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