Vadim Volochnyuk and Nikita Petrenko, who are the founders of ImproveTeam, shared their experience of creating an arbitrage team and talked about the specifics of promoting gambling on Facebook in this Login Casino interview. The experts also provided information about the advantages of redirecting traffic to the nearest foreign markets in comparison with the CIS region and made a forecast for the development of the online casino market in Ukraine, which was the central topic of news about gambling in 2020.
Nikita and Vadim, how long have you been working in the field of traffic arbitrage and how did you come to create your own team – ImproveTeam?
Vadim: I have been engaged in traffic arbitrage for about 4 years. Initially, I worked for several companies that were indirectly related to arbitrage. Later, I began to work with Nikita. After launching several successful projects, we decided to create our own arbitrage team. This is how ImproveTeam appeared.
Nikita: I have been working in CPA marketing for about 5 years. Before that, I had a network of communities in VKontakte. As a matter of fact, in communities, I started my first tests of lead generation for product and mobile offers. Having gained experience, I began to work in top positions in affiliate programs and for gambling advertisers directly. However, since I always had a desire to create my own arbitrage team, I decided with a partner to start ImproveTeam.
How many years has your team been on the market? Given the dynamism of the market, how are the approaches to work changing and what trends have you noted at the end of 2020?
Vadim: Our team appeared a year and a half ago. During this time, we have grown from three people in the main team to 12. Several more specialists work with us on outsourcing. Given the dynamism of the market, the approach to work changes almost every month. Since we work mainly with Facebook, that is, the most changing source of traffic, we have to constantly adjust to it. In my opinion, the main trend of 2020 for affiliates in gambling became the mobility to change and the use of different traffic sources. Those affiliates who were able to change their approaches to work in time and adapt to the new rules of the game in a mobile way turned out to be on the top.
COVID-19 pushed arbitrage specialists to gambling in 2020. Was it harder to compete compared to previous years?
Vadim: It is true that the competition in the market intensified in 2020. But, according to my observations, it affected mostly those arbitrage specialists who work on their own. Many of them switched to gambling arbitrage from other niches, for instance, dating. However, at the same time, the number of good teams did not grow (or we did not notice it). We started redirecting big traffic volumes exactly in 2020, so I cannot give a comparative description with previous years. However, from the experience of my colleagues in the industry, I know that some teams disbanded, while others, on the contrary, managed to achieve great results. I think that in 2021 the competition in the market will be less since it will be much more difficult for solo arbitrage specialists to get traffic without special knowledge. As for arbitrage teams, not all of them will be able to cope with persistent blocks and other complexities of working on Facebook.
In August of 2020, the gambling market was legalized in Ukraine. Has it become easier to work or you haven’t experienced a lot of change?
Vadim: The legalization of casinos in Ukraine affected the gambling market, but did not simplify the work in any way. Major players from Europe already start to bring their online casinos to the Ukrainian market. I think that in 2021 Ukraine should expect a boom in online casinos. It will be caused by the fact that players have been waiting for the launch of the gambling market for a long time, as well as difficulties with casinos in Russia. Considering these factors, webmasters will start directing traffic to the Ukrainian market. This means that there will be a huge amount of advertisements on the Internet with slots and successful player stories.
Do you think that in 2021 arbitrage specialists will be more focused on the CIS market or will they pay more attention to foreign markets? What market is your team currently working with and do you plan to change the strategy in 2021?
Vadim: I am sure that in 2021 solo arbitrage specialists and arbitrage teams will begin to leave the CIS market and switch to foreign markets, including European ones. There are several reasons why it will be this way and not otherwise. Russia now has big problems with the withdrawal of funds through payment systems. The Ukrainian market will begin to be actively flooded and after the first six months, special creatives and other techniques will be required to withstand the competition. Also, in favor of Europe is the fact that online casinos are much more popular here and it is easier to work with players. In addition, the conditions for attracting traffic by CPL/CPA models are better here. True, I believe that many arbitrage specialists will switch to the nearest markets, such as Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary. In these countries, traffic is not very expensive, but they pay for first deposits two or three times more than, for example, in Ukraine. Our team redirects about 85% of traffic to the foreign markets – Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. But there were periods when we redirected up to 90% of traffic only to Ukraine.
Which geolocation would you recommend novices in traffic arbitrage starting with?
Nikita: I would recommend starting with the CIS market since there are good offers here. For example, it’s worth paying attention to Ukraine and Kazakhstan. I also advise having a look at CPL offers. For a start, they will be an excellent option since they do not require large investments.
Vadim, at one of the conferences dedicated to traffic arbitrage, you said that gambling promotion on Facebook is better than on UAC (Universal App Campaign). But some of your colleagues think differently. Why do you think Facebook is better to work with?
Vadim: We are already changing our opinion about UAC. But learning how to work well with traffic in UAC is not easy. This is not similar to Facebook targeting, where you can work with the settings in detail. Therefore, we have already begun to cooperate with specialists who are good at redirecting traffic via UAC. And now we are more and more immersed in this traffic source. As for Facebook, I can say for sure that despite all the difficulties and peculiarities, I don't see a better source of traffic for myself. But whatever the case, by the end of 2020 we plan to increase traffic from other sources to 50-60%.
What creatives do you use for Facebook promotion?
Vadim: There are four main types of video creatives in gambling: news, emotions and slots, promos, and “success stories”. These are the creative we work with.
Nikita, taking into account your experience in the field of affiliate programs, what would you recommend arbitrage specialists to pay attention to when choosing affiliate programs? What is important in affiliate programs for ImproveTeam?
Nikita: We try to work mainly with direct advertisers – local and foreign ones. If we talk about affiliate programs, then I would recommend paying attention to reviews on specialized blogs, looking through Telegram chats of affiliate programs, and also reading reviews about them in other professional chats. Also, do not hesitate to ask the people from the community about their experience of working with particular affiliate programs. But from more applied criteria, I can single out three main ones – the rate, hold, and KPI of the offer.
What trends do you expect in the gambling market in 2021? What will you focus on and do you plan to expand?
Vadim: The main trend of the gambling market is that it is constantly growing. There will be more work and the need for new employees will also be there. We expect that by the end of 2021 their number will approximately double. We will focus on the development of the team so that any new buyer can master what needs to be done in a few days and start generating a profit.
Why do you think CIS advertisers are afraid to try their hand at foreign markets?
Nikita: I'm sure it's a matter of self-doubt. To expand the product for new geolocation, you need solutions for accepting payments, the right approach to legal issues, etc. In addition, not everyone has an understanding of the target audience for specific geolocation. As tests and detailed examination of the target audience are very expensive, not everyone will dare to spend a lot of money, which most likely won’t pay off.
What would you advise novices in traffic arbitrage and webmasters who want to create their own affiliate team?
Nikita: You shouldn't make the main mistake that is typical for most beginners – to chase rainbows at the start. You also need to remember that the work of an arbitrage specialist in gambling is very stressful. I would compare it to a roller coaster. But if you work hard, constantly test large volumes of different variables, you will be able to make good money. And even when you get an ROI of 100+, don't flatter yourself prematurely. Keep working. Regarding team building, I would recommend planning your budget in detail, calculate turnover, salaries, and other costs. After that, the received figure by two and get an approximate budget for the first month of work.
Besides, remember about the holds and the fact that buyers might generate no revenue or that arbitrage specialists may be deceived by affiliate programs or advertisers. It’s also worth remembering that if cookies are not enabled in the application, the next time the player logs in, he/she will not play using your link. There are many nuances in the work, and it is difficult for novices in traffic arbitrage to understand them, so we decided to create a training course for those who want to master this niche.
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