We recently had an in-depth and particularly interesting interview with Julian Pitts, a key figure at Affiliate Leaders and Senior Relationship Manager at the behemoth of organizing iGaming events, SBC, where he shared his viewpoint, expertise and knowledge on various fascinating subjects including his demanding occupations, iGaming industry, charming anecdotes from his personal life and much more.
Julian, you hold two very distinctive positions in the iGaming world: you are in charge of Affiliate Leaders, and you are also the Senior Relationship Manager for Affiliates at SBC. Tell us, what is the most challenging aspect of having to simultaneously manage such demanding functions?
To be honest I tend to take it in my stride. I very much enjoy working with affiliates and being kept up to date with all that is happening, so to have our own community of Affiliate Leaders is very rewarding for me. I’m also fortunate to have some awesome colleagues that take some of the strain off and help me balance everything out. However, if I were to answer the question directly, it’s the global aspect, simply down to differences in time zones. It just means you have to be adaptable when it comes to arranging meetings etc.
As a leading figure at Affiliate Leaders, and as a Senior Relationship Manager at SBC, it is no secret that your job requires possessing exceptional people skills. Did you always have an aptitude for communication, or is it something that you picked up along your professional journey?
My parents have told me quite a few amusing anecdotes about me as a child, so I think I was fortunate to always be willing to put myself in front of people from a young age. The older I get the more simple it all seems. Smile, be polite, ask questions, and show interest. We often forget the basics of communication when in a work environment due to numerous factors. I’ve always tried to merge the two, in terms of professional and personal, as they cross over a lot more than people like to admit, especially in today’s era of remote working. We spend more time with our colleagues and clients than we do with any of the people from our personal lives, so try and enjoy it as much as you can.
Despite being dubbed a “young” company, Affiliate Leaders is already considered one of the leading membership communities for iGaming affiliates in the industry. What separates Affiliate Leaders from the competition?
I believe it’s our unique approach to building a sense of community and camaraderie among our members. We have fostered a culture of collaboration and support, as well as priding ourselves on the level of engagement and responsiveness we give to our members. We are constantly looking at initiatives in order to deliver the most value. I could go into more detail about these but instead, I encourage affiliates to become members and experience it firsthand.
Affiliate Leaders are currently working with a plethora of the top affiliates in the industry. Are there any particular requirements for an affiliate company to become part of the ever-growing Affiliate Leaders family?
It is common for such communities to have certain requirements such as the size of the affiliate’s audience, the quality of their website or other promotional channels, their level of experience and expertise in the iGaming industry, as well as their overall reputation and track record. However, at this stage Affiliate Leaders is focused on building a sense of community and collaboration among its members.
As such, it is all about affiliates who are open to sharing their knowledge and experience with one another, who are interested in networking and building relationships with other affiliates & industry stakeholders, and who are committed to maintaining high ethical standards and compliance with relevant regulations. In a nutshell, be engaged.
Due to their practicality and convenience, many affiliates in the iGaming world prefer the use of cryptocurrencies over fiat currencies. What is your stance on crypto, do you think it is a momentary craze or something that will become the norm?
I can certainly see the attraction of using cryptocurrencies, due to the fact they offer fast, secure, low-cost transactions and are not subject to the same restriction as fiat. The anonymity and privacy offered by cryptocurrencies are particularly attractive. I feel it will become the norm to a certain extent – fiat will always be there but we are already seeing online casinos and sportsbooks accepting cryptocurrencies as a valid payment method.
If I had my own affiliate operation, it’s something I would certainly consider but only with a stablecoin. I feel those get-rich-quick days of crypto are becoming a thing of the past unless the 4-year cycle is to be believed entirely!
Working as a Relationship Manager at SBC you are constantly in communication with the clients. Are there any particular differences between maintaining strong customer relationships between affiliates and operators, and if so, can you tell us what are they?
I think with any client you have to treat them (or the company) on an individual basis. Personalize it where you can and make them aware that you are genuinely interested in their needs and wants.
What is your preferred mean of communication with the clients? Or more specifically, do you find it easier to forge new partnerships and maintain the existing ones in person, or via one of the social mediums?
Nothing beats face-to-face but that isn’t always realistic geographically. I have to say, I much prefer a video call to a phone conversation. I have to see the person. I’ve always been this way, avoiding a phone call at every opportunity. It also helps to work in events if I can put a face to the name before the actual event arrives.
Being that SBC enjoys a reputation as one of the biggest event organizers in the iGaming world, it is no surprise that their summits are frequently visited by thousands of people. How important is it for a representative from the iGaming community to attend events of that magnitude and why?
It’s vital. Our conference team put in the hard hours to ensure exceptionally strong, relevant panels are put together across all of our events, covering a magnitude of topics, in order to deliver the most value to ALL attendees. Our sales team does a great job of placing exhibitors in the most relevant zones/areas so that they hit their desired traffic and get the right exposure.
Our marketing team partners with top media companies to deliver fresh content that can be revisited after the event has finished. Our events team travels frequently to each host city to identify the best networking opportunities and venues. All in all, each department plays a vital role in the success of our events and we take great pride in doing it.
What does SBC intend to do for one of its upcoming mega events? Perhaps a special \indoor event for the affiliates, or something entirely different?
We can’t reveal everything all at once. Where is the fun in that?! Our Affiliate Leaders will be the first to know.
Lastly, how do you see the world of iGaming affiliates 5 years from now? Do you believe that ChatGPT will change the way that affiliates do business as many tend to suggest?
Part of me feels that the landscape of iGaming affiliates could change in regard to regulations. We see it already in North America but it could become more widespread that affiliates need to have licences in order to promote their partners online. On the surface of it, I don’t think this would be welcomed by many, if any. However, if the licence is realistic and based around compliance, a key factor for operators, it could be worthwhile for all parties involved.
In terms of ChatGPT, why not? If affiliates can offset their marketing efforts and data analysis, it will free them up in other areas. The main consideration at this point with AI is from a responsible gambling and player protection point of view. If these can be well monitored and maintained, I feel ChatGPT and other AI technologies have their place in the future of this industry.