iGB Affiliate 55 Feb/Mar - Page 60

INSIGHT 2016: APP TIME FOR AFFILIATES? With 85% of mobile time now spent in-app, 2016 may be the year for affiliates to develop one. Alan Petrilli of Income Access discusses the process and challenges with three leading affiliates who have already taken the leap - PokerNews, Bettingexpert and Easyodds – and also shares key findings from the company’s recent survey on affiliates’ move to mobile. ARE YOU READING this article in print or on a mobile device? The latter possibility is increasingly likely, given that eMarketer estimates that 50.3% of the UK population regularly use a tablet, while the country’s smartphone penetration is expected to reach 90% this year, according to Kantar ComTech. Whichever device they use, far more of consumers’ time is spent in apps than surfing the mobile web. As such, apps offer numerous benefits to forwardlooking affiliates, though they also pose development and marketing challenges. Mobile websites and developing apps Affiliates’ mobile traffic is increasing. In 2014, only a fifth of affiliates (22.2%) surveyed by Income Access were receiving more than 40% of their traffic from players on mobile devices. Last year, the situation had changed significantly: half of affiliates (47.2%) were receiving more than this threshold of mobile traffic. “Mobile is the future for not only iGaming, but for just about every industry,” says Matthew Parvis, Chief Creative Officer at poker affiliate PokerNews. “People spend more and more time on their phones each and every year.” PokerNews responded to the mobile revolution early, with the affiliate relaunching PokerNews. com as a mobile-friendly site in 2013. Not all affiliates were this prescient. However, Google’s Mobilegeddon algorithm update in April 2015 made website mobile-friendliness a necessity rather than a luxury. Unsurprisingly, today the majority of affiliates – 83.3% of those surveyed – have a mobile site. Is a mobile site enough? In fact, 54 iGB Affiliate Issue 55 FEB/MAR 2016 smartphone and tablet users spend relatively little time browsing the mobile web. According to Nielsen, apps makeup the lion’s share of consumers’ mobile usage: 85% of their time is in-app, with mobile browsing and sites accounting for the remainder. Nonetheless, affiliates have been relatively slow to join the app revolution. Over three-quarters of affiliates polled (77.8%) had neither an app nor any plans to develop one. When developing an app, affiliates certainly face technical challenges. “Most affiliates are used to creating websites, but building native apps is quite different to this, as a good app product is real software,” says Marc Pederson, Director of Business Development at bettingexpert. com, a sports-betting affiliate. “There is a need for much better development practices, error handling and QA.” Given the technological complexity, app development takes time. Pederson estimates animation can reach £35,000. Once developed, an app needs to be hosted in an app store. “By far the biggest problem in developing apps in the iGaming space is navigating the rules and regulations that both the iOS and Android marketplaces have in regards to gambling products,” says Matthew Parvis of PokerNews, which launched its first apps in 2012. Despite the challenges involved in bringing an app to market, these are more than balanced by the advantages. An app can significantly improve consumers’ engagement with an affiliate’s content. “We utilize our apps as brand extensions and ways to continue to connect with our audience,” says Parvis. Anna Woodward, Commercial Manager at sports-betting affiliate Easyodds.com, agrees. “Our apps allow the user to have a fully engaged user experience,” she says. Woodward emphasizes that push “Affiliates have been relatively slow to join the app revolution. Over three-quarters of those polled (77.8%) had neither an app nor any plans to develop one.” that the first versions of the iOS and Android apps for bettingexpert.com took around five months to develop followed by four months of testing and bug-fixing before they were launched in 2014. Understandably, this process also involves significant financial investment. According to app developers Abbacus Technologies, a moderately complex app with a database, API and social media integration can cost £3,500 to £7,000. Meanwhile, development costs for more complex apps with 3D graphics and notifications are a key means of “targeting an engaged audience in real time across multiple devices”. Player acquisition If engagement is a core benefit, apps also serve to drive traffic to the brands affiliates promote. “The Easyodds native app enables us to strengthen our relationship with iGaming brands throughout the sector,” says Woodward, describing affiliates’ apps as “a new platform to push partners’ offers”. Consumers who have installed an