KaFe Rocks: A new approach to affiliate networking

For KaFe Rocks, the betting and gaming industry should take inspiration from companies operating outside the sector, notably destination brands in areas such as the travel space. 

Speaking to GamblingTV in a recent interview, KaFe Rocks’ CEO, Simon Pilkington, discussed the company’s new time2play brand – an affiliate platform with a number of unique approaches and features. 

As an affiliate network, KaFe Rocks is currently active in 15 markets with 40 sites in its ‘core engine’ network, with a focus on sports betting and casino. The company has strongly underscored its ambition to become a leading destination brand in the industry, with Pilkington stating that the firm is “not shy to say we want to be the number one in this space”.

Commenting on KaFe Rocks’ inspiration from non-gambling destination brands, Pilkington added that he believes there is a ‘big space in the industry for this type of site’, referencing successful travel sector sites such as tripadvisor and booking.com, with offer a ‘more ‘holistic’ overview to brands. 

With regards to Kafe Rocks’ and time2play’s USPs, Pilkington continued: “In terms of how we are taking a different approach to most affiliates out there, it goes back to trust for me. I’ve never come across a brand that has so obviously put the user first in all of its decisions, and we are a team made up of igamers and we are not willing to compromise the user. 

“We are still a business and want to make profit, and the top line and bottom line numbers we believe will follow as a byproduct of treating the user properly.”

An additional highlight of KaFe Rocks’ system, Pilkington argued, was the company’s ratings system, which is unique in that it leverages both the firm’s own internal experts in addition to user generated ratings, it’s ‘play score’ system – which uses cross-industry aggregated ratings, including information from the company’s competitors.

“In terms of how we’re doing partnerships differently, we don’t let operators dictate on time2play which position they take on the site,” he continued.

“The traditional affiliate model where there will be positional fees or deals being made – that’s not going to happen on time to play, it will be determined truly by the product they offer and the services they offer and the score that our experts and ratings systems provide. It ensures the user gets a  truer version of the best sportsbook or casino for that category.”

Moving on to offer some insights into the future development of the international betting and gaming space, Pilkington’s focus was – understandably – on the burgeoning North American industry. 

“The opportunity is huge,” the CEO explained. “It’s still growing as more states open up sports and casino markets. The way we view it is there are a potential 15 new markets opening up in the future. That will take time to get to that level, but already we’ve seen the hockey stick of markets opening up more and more – it started off with a trickle and now its gaining space.”

This also brings in challenges with regards to a coordinated approach, he pointed out, due to the intricate nature of state by state differences across the US – and by extension province-by-province when Canada is considered. 

“It comes down to geo-targeting and geo-blocking with how we are going to approach that,” Pilkington continued. “We are very confident that our solutions that they’ll be very robust, but for me it’s a super exciting market because there’s so much scope to it. 

“There is also still so much education to be done with the US as well, whether that’s with educating the industry about how affiliates can play a big part and have a seat at the table, or even if its educating operators to ensure their product is as good as it can be for the years – there’s a lot of user knowledge we can share with – and educating players themselves who’ll be experiencing online gambling for the first time – not a ‘hand-holding exercise’. 

“What is exciting is the pace at which it will grow and in turn innovate – it’s the US, they’re tech leaders and innovation leaders. They will start to influence the entire industry over the next five years.”

For KaFe Rocks’ the US will be the company’s key target area for 2022 and continuing throughout the remainder of its five-year business plan, both through its time2play platform and via its portfolio sites.

Pilkington explained that the firm will be: “Focusing on driving growth in current core markets, driving further internal growth to guarantee that procedures and processes are in place properly, to make sure that we’re set up for as much growth as possible in the years to come.

“We’re now in that execution phase of that, having put a lot of planning in, and I’m really keen to see how that does impact over the next year, whilst at the same time we’ll be looking at further growing our emerging markets, and identifying and launching into the new markets which we will think will bring value to us.”

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