Q&A with Ellen Learmonth, program manager at Safe Affiliate Programs

We spoke to Ellen Learmonth, program manager at Safe Affiliate Programs to see what she thinks about the latest advancements in the affiliate marketing industry.
Q: What does Safe Affiliate Program stand for and why was it created?
A: Above all else, Safe Affiliate Program stands for providing a secure and reliable platform for affiliates to find programs that share the same ethics of a safe and transparent environment for affiliate partners to work with. We have had great feedback from our affiliate partners who have approached us for either help or information. They appreciate the secure and reliable platform/service we provide, as well as the resources and support we offer to help them to succeed or problem solve.
Q: How do you intend to ensure that principle?
A: Our limited number of listed programs shows that this is an exclusive circle that has no automatic ‘join here’ button. It is not easy to be part of Safe Affiliate Program’s circle of friends. This is the basis of how we ensure integrity within our group. It takes time to become involved and we ask programs to be open and in-the-know with one another. We all need to be comfortable to share the stage with other programs in confidence. Once achieved, we can then offer practical affiliate support to our affiliate partners, within the program circle. An example would be mediation for affiliate partners with a program they are not too familiar with, or fail to connect with. We will provide resources and support to help affiliates to be better informed, to connect, and to escalate if need be.
Q: Is there anything you’ve learned from last year that you changed to improve this year?
A: So, in 2022 we started to re-access our brand perception. As we started out with a trusted corporate type branding, we found that a lot of affiliates were not necessarily associating iGaming with our brand. We started adding some graphical elements, which would hint at “casino & slots”. Still, we were faced with questions about being a network, which we are not. We also wanted to portray that we offer fun as well as being trustworthy.
In February this year, we exhibited with a much bigger stand completely branded like a ski lodge, with a slightly updated logo. This turned out to be a great success and we are finally on the right track to promote our intent in a way that it translates and is understood. We have also learned that adding a new partner to our circle can energise the team. It brings back our focus on our principles and our vision. We have learned that we have had the right idea to collaborate and share resources, and best practices between our programs, and we have learned our social events are awesome, with affiliate partners looking forward to making the attendee list in the following year.
These are the foundations on which we continue to build our relationships going forward, to the benefit of our affiliate programs and affiliate partners.
Q: What about your goals for this year, have you realised any of them yet?
A: We saw that we had proof of concept, when we had a fabulous turnout at iGB Affiliate in London early this year. This was something we wanted to build on and we have, now that we can look back on an equally successful show at iGB Live Amsterdam. We are continuing to provide a friendly and open conference experience with a bigger and/or more unique presence and build on our social events. Finally, we have started our road shows in 2023, as delegations visited some of our affiliate partners this year already. The partners had the undivided attention from our program representatives at leisurely open Q&A sessions, while we gained more insight into their situation and business goals. Additionally, we plan to expand our reach and increase our presence in the affiliate marketing industry.
Q: If you could offer one piece of advice to newcomers in the affiliate marketing industry, what would that be?
A: My advice to newcomers in the affiliate marketing industry would be to do your research and be prepared to put in the work. Affiliate marketing is very competitive, especially in the iGaming industry, and it takes dedication and hard work to be successful. It is important to understand the industry, the different strategies and tactics, and the different platforms available. Additionally, they want to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and developments in the industry. Compliance is a major factor and needs to be followed to the ‘T’, as not only operators are targeted with fines for non-compliance, but affiliates can be penalised too, as we have seen happen this year. This might make affiliates new to this industry wonder if it is still profitable and worth the hassle entering some of the highly regulated markets.
I personally believe affiliates can take advantage of the increased trust and security that comes with a highly regulated market, as customers are more likely to trust and engage with a brand that is compliant with regulations. Even if licensed operators are still outnumbered by grey market operators, concentrating on promoting regulated and licensed operators will pay out in the long-term.
Q: This year the topic of AI is blowing up. What are your thoughts on this?
A: I’m always excited for the potential of new technologies and strategies that will be available to help affiliates maximise their success. Something that is on the mind of many people, organisations, developers, media outlets and governments combined is Artificial Intelligence. For us, no doubt AI lends itself to play a major role in content creation. It makes it easier for affiliates, no matter the size. Smaller companies will be able to create more content with tools like ChatGPT by OpenAI and the larger companies with content teams will be able to create even more content. We have tested AI based content creation and it can be a great tool to produce quick articles, but it can also present numbers or scenarios that are completely wrong or incomplete and bias.
I strongly advise to air with caution, scrutinise and fact-check the content for its accuracy, informative value, and uniqueness, and here is why:
Will this impact the larger affiliates that employ a team of content creators? I am not sure, maybe ultimately it will lead to reductions in staff levels. But human supervision of content is still necessary.
If you ask Open AI if Google can detect AI generated content the answer is:” Yes, Google can detect if an article has been AI generated. Google uses a variety of techniques to detect AI-generated content, including natural language processing, machine learning, and other algorithms. Google also uses human reviewers to manually review content for signs of AI-generated content.”
However, does that mean the content is penalised by Google, AI will answer: “Google may penalise AI generated content if it is deemed to be of low quality or not providing value to users. Google may also penalise AI generated content if it is found to be plagiarised or copied from other sources.”
As brilliant as AI is, there is still some manual work necessary, and we should absolutely be thankful for that.


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