One year ago a press release popped up in our mailbox, where we saw that CasinoEuro, a Betsson owned brand, launched their first ever YouTube show. After watching the first video we decided to support the project and publish the PR, just because it looked so quirky and lighthearted that we knew our audience would enjoy it. Now, 30 videos and half a million views later, the channel made quite some noise within the industry, and was even featured on the SEO iGaming Idol awards of 2021.
Curious about the background of the project, we decided to invite Arren, the project manager behind the show, to join us for a virtual coffee and share the struggles and wins behind the project. Let’s jump right in to it!
Q: Arren, if I had the time to watch only one of your videos, just one review, which one would best describe the project and your vision in it?
Oh, that’s easy – the Street Fighter 2 Slot Machine review! I was so happy to see that one of my favorite childhood games is still alive and kicking through different licensing deals, that I just had to include this version in to the plan. The community also loved the video, it was one of the best performing in that month, not only on YouTube, but also on Social Media and various subreddits. Definitely worth a watch if you want to understand the gist of the project, here it is:
Q: Ah, the music! Brings back some old memories from the Nintendo SNES era. Tell me, how did you come up with the idea of a YouTube show?
Back in 20XX I was a regional manager for IGN, the video gaming site, and part of my responsibilities was to organize a weekly show hosted directly on their platform called Weekly Fix, where the host would go over various news from the gaming world that happened in that week. The users loved, I enjoyed making them, and once I switched industries the first thing I did was check if there’s something similar in it.
To my surprise, there were no proper YouTube shows covering igaming, just influencers and their “big win” and affiliate links. So I packed it all in to a project plan, presented it on the next quarter meeting and soon enough we started rolling.
there I’ve lead the production team with their weekly videos. The users loved it, I enjoyed it, and once I saw that there’s nothing similar within the igaming world, I just said to my stakeholders at Betsson that we need to create something like this, the industry really needed a lighthearted approach.
Q: Operators are quit heavy on affiliate traffic, so it makes sense that affiliates are using whichever channel they can to provide that traffic, but your videos were not affiliate link heavy, why is that?
Because the project wasn’t an affiliate campaign, it was an SEO campaign. I’m known for my ethical approach to link building, and to have a successful campaign of that type, you need great content.
Most of my campaigns revolve around news worth sharing, something that can gain coverage naturally, with just a small push from your side. In return you would get a much better and colorful link portfolio for a fraction of the price you would pay if you would go grey or blackhat. And, more importantly, you’re actually creating something useful for the users, the company, and your own portfolio.
If you think about the lifespawn of one slot machine game, it’s usually around 10 years. Looking at this street fighter review above I knew that we’re creating an evergreen video that will not only be fun now, at this given moment, but also in 5 to 10 years, making an asset that Betsson can use over and over again.
Q: How did you monetize the project then? Tell us more about the ROI please.
It was monetized indirectly. As you know, the key to a good SEO campaign are good quality links, and the point of this project was to create enough noise to create a story that the publishers wanted to cover, regardless if they were paid or not.
Once we launched the project I’ve sent out our first press release to around 100 igaming related websites, including you and your team. In return, more than 40 of them published the story for free, with links pointing to CasinoEuro.
Q: Aaaa you sneaky bastard! I did that as well!
I know you did 😀 But it’s not sneaky, it’s good content that your audience seeks and enjoy watching. What else would you be covering? Another acquisition or merger? I mean, sure, it’s good to know what’s happening within the industry, but your readers also need lighthearted content, and this is where that story came in. Journalists loved it and they wanted to share it, some inlcuded the links that were in the original press release, others didn’t, but it doesn’t matter because the volume was enormous.
Q: So on one side you would maintain a steady stream of new video reviews on the YouTube channel, and on the other you would be using that story to generate free PR and Native articles with links?
Free and paid PR and native articles, yes. The videos would be coming out once every week, fixed every Friday at 3 PM, and then on Monday we would inform our media and influencer list that a new video is there, sometimes they would cover it, other times not, but in general the ROI was much better with this campaign than a conventional grey or black hat campaign where you’re just scribbling around random casino themed articles and pay sub-quality sites to publish them.
Q: Why Friday 3 PM?
From the research I did most of our users were corporate people who usually want to disconnect on Fridays around that time, so having a subscriber base that gets fresh content during that time made sense, and the performance was good so we kept on doing it.
Q: I saw that Yahoo and Insider covered the story as well, how did you manage to publish an igaming related article on those sites?
Think about it, a site CasinoHeadlines.com doesn’t have any restrictions and would gladly cover a project like this, but when it comes to the teams with the big guns, like the sites you mentioned in the question, you need something better. They will not cover it for free, but they will want top-notch content.
Luckily I was planning that ahead, and the idea was to close the project with a gadget haul that would be interesting to most of the sites out there. What we basically did was take a bunch of gadgets and tested if you can open CasinoEuro on them.
Now, this wouldn’t be interesting if it wouldn’t be extreme, right? So we managed to get a billboard and play street fighter on the street, we rented a cinema and tried it on the large screen, heck we even got a Tesla and tried playing slots on its built in screen. With such a quirky video you just can’t fail, espeically if you have such a great team behind the project like I had, the suppliers really gave all they could for that last video.
With great content like that, you have no issues getting native articles on various sites, from gaming, tech, EV and general news. It’s fun and webmasters want to cover it.
Q: Tell us a bit about the challenges, with which ones did you struggle the most?
It wasn’t easy to create something like this, especially during the pandemic, so there were several issues, especially logistics.
Our first challenge was how to set the right tone of voice for a site like CasinoEuro. Although I love the brand, the truth is that the name isn’t as brandable as one would think, so we had to figure out what type of setting do we want.
After that came the model, Melanie. We went over close to 40 different hosts, both male and female, until we finally agreed on a test date with a few of them, and Melanie did the best.
Once all of that was out of the way we stumbled on one of our biggest challenges that no one seems to talk about within the industry: YouTube.
Man, that platform… MGA licenced casino, We lost 5 videos and can’t reupload them because they didn’t want to
Q: What was your favorite part of the project?
Oh, definitely the t-shirts 😀 I don’t know if you could tell, but each and every video was featuring a different t-shirt that matched the theme of the game, so we had to create more then 30 different looks, and I honestly enjoyed each and every one of them. One of the T-shirts, signed by the whole team, was also given to Betsson as a thanks for the cooperation.
Q: If you would be doing it again, what would you do different?
Due to the pandemic we couldn’t make some of the things that I wanted to, like a custom studio, a mascot
You’ll see soon, I negotiated a deal with Casumo and we will launch their YouTube channel sometimes in Q3 2022, stay tuned!