Lee-Ann Johnstone: Technology’s disruption leads AffiliateFEST debate & agenda

AffiliateFEST debuts at the ‘Betting on Sports Conference’ (#BOSCON2018), with technology disruption and its impact on the future framework of affiliate marketing, placed at the forefront of the agenda.

SBC speaks to Affiliate Insider founder Lee-Ann Johnstone, gaining a detailed breakdown on this year’s must-attend event for industry publishers, who face new consumer, regulatory and technology-driven demands


SBC: AffiliateFEST is taking place alongside @ BOSCON2018, what debates, dynamics and contexts are shaping the sector’s affiliate marketing scene?

Lee-Ann Johnstone: The focus for this year’s AffiliateFEST event is centred around digital disruption and futurology of affiliate marketing as a digital medium. The advent of blockchain, crypto and influencer marketing is a key topic for this year’s event. To remain competitive affiliates must be able to visualise the future of digital marketing and understand how this disruption will impact their businesses. Our aim is to bring in expert speakers to the conference who can teach not only the latest digital insights but offer mentoring and advice as well.  Affiliate Marketing is a complex business and is changing daily as regulation, advertising and data improve our ability to target, market and engage audiences.  This is why Affiliate Insider focuses not just on affiliate marketing but also on skills development and providing expert insights for iGaming businesses to prosper and keep ahead of the competitive marketplace as it continues to grow.

SBC: You have placed a high emphasis, on detailing new technology disciplines and impacts on sector marketing (AI, Blockchain, Voice search, etc). Can you detail these for SBC readers?

LAJ: Artificial Intelligence is being adopted by many organisations to improve their digital practices. We are seeing loads of new technologies come to market that can process data faster, more accurately and provide insights to affiliates and operators alike on where and how to engage their target audiences online. Search as discipline is also evolving because of AI, voice search methodology and blockchain are changing the way we search for information and how fast we can process data and payments to ensure accurate business metrics , and this is interesting for affiliates because of the way that tracking currently functions and the time delays experienced with payments for business sent to operators throughout the month. Transparency is key for our industry and these applications are helping to bring it to the fore, therefore, understanding how it is being adopted and its practical use is imperative for businesses that want to grow.

SBC: We have come from a period of high marketing concentration following World Cup Russia 2018. Did any advertising practices catch your eye?

Whilst I can’t recall anything in particular during the period that stood out for me, what I can say is that I have seen affiliates become much more savvy in their content marketing techniques. At the last Affiliate Insider Sports Betting Bootcamp, we heard how content marketing is forming a much bigger part of the affiliate channel for niche audience targeting and also for brand building attributes which previously were not a focal point. Now that the industry is regulating and affiliate sites are being bought and sold at a rapid pace it’s no wonder affiliate entrepreneurs are looking to differentiate themselves and their marketing techniques. Community-driven offers and tipping services are making use of these content streams to target and engage niche audiences outside of the main subject heading of just being explanatory around popular sports. 

SBC: In 2017 & 2018, industry affiliate marketing has seen mass consolidation, creating expanding multi-market networks. As a stakeholder do you believe that affiliate marketing may become somewhat conservative and risk-averse… is this a somewhat a concern?

LAJ: Categorically I can say that the affiliate channel will continue to evolve and grow. One thing about this industry is that it is at the forefront of digital disruption, affiliates are some of the most entrepreneurial people I’ve ever worked with. They think outside the box, they see the market in a different angle to operators and they are highly in tune with customers so brands that embrace and engage this channel to develop deeper more symbiotic relationships with affiliates will be the ones that leverage the commercial growth they can provide. I can see that with improved data and tracking commercial relationships have to change to build longevity and value and this is where I think it will be quite interesting in days to come. Nobody wants a monopoly on traffic and everyone wants to spread their risk, which is exactly why Affiliate Insider exists. We are investing in an  “all in”approach to help smaller affiliates grow, get better connected at the early stage of their business lifecycle and access experienced mentoring and expert support. Operators who partner with us will see the value in this collaboration and benefit from the relationships we build across all our programmes in the future.

 SBC: Furthermore, as industry stakeholders, affiliates have been urged to be socially responsive. How are they undertaking this challenge, and are they being supported by operators?

LAJ: Affiliates that want to be in business 18 months from now are taking this very seriously. Regulation is forcing the issue, but also good business practice is now an expectation from within this industry as it’s matured. More often than not now I see affiliates updating terms, improving email communications, following CAP guides and operators have taken a large leap forward to help them with this. Companies like and are developing technologies to help operators police and manage this at scale. We all have to be responsible to ensure the industry continues to grow and provide value. I think this is crystal clear on all sides and people are moving towards enforcing it internally and externally as well. 

SBC: Finally, what do you want delegates to take-away from AffiliateFEST in 2018?

LAJ: I want affiliates to understand that we are here to help their businesses grow, get them connected to brands that have a vested interest in growing this channel and their relationships in it and for suppliers to find a forum and audience to market their business services to. I want affiliates to take away the expertise that we bring to the conference and use it in their businesses to grow their revenue, to meet new operators who are keen to do long term transparent business and for operators to find new relationships they can nurture and grow.

We have the best of the best in our speaker line up and each event is different and topical to the local environment. We cover all vertical and have a wide range of experts in their field of digital expertise teach their discipline. You won’t find fluffy case studies as all the content we share is highly curated to meet the audience needs. Best of all, we pull this together absolutely FOR FREE for all iGaming affiliates to attend. Without forward thinking sponsors like Buffalo Partners, VBet and Intertops possible, so the more we can promote the value of our AffiliateFEST content and provide skills development in our community, the better for all.


Lee-Ann Johnstone – Founder – Affiliate Insider


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