Planet Mark's Blog. Thoughts, News And Strategy For Poker Tournaments Of All Size

Planet Corp Update October 2015

I’m going to give this post the theme of ‘wrong’… as in, things I got wrong. This year has been a rough one so far. Partly the industry, partly some decisions I made along the way. If you have not come across a Planet Corp Update before, this is the quarterly (approx.) post where I take you behind the scenes here at Planet HQ – and talk about the business side past, present and future.

Blows from the Poker Industry this Year

Think of a boxer who has just been on the end of a proper hiding, standing there dazed in the ring with the referee blocking his opponent, trying to decide whether he is fit to continue… maybe there are cartoon birds and stars circling his head…

That’s close to how it has felt to be a poker affiliate this year…

The succession of smackdowns first below, then some non-poker stuff and plans for the rest of this year are covered. Fortunately, despite the blows, things are starting to go quite well!

*Smackdown #1*

First PokerStars reversed their ‘lifetime revenue share’ deal, and made it 2 years share only. Now even though my players moved from PAW (an aggregator) 3.5ish (or was it 4?) years ago were showing low revenues as a proportion… *boom* the numbers dropped by 90%+ overnight. That means that 90% of rev came from players sent exactly between 3.5 and 2 years ago?

Of course not, I (along with 1000’s of other affiliates who sent legitimate traffic to this site) have been cheated.

Still, other than a gripe and removing them from many pages here at SNG Planet, there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. That’s XXX signups and a mid XX new deposits a month for (literally) years now earning a grand total of sweet f-all !

*Smackdown #2*

Carbon Poker was the recipient of much of my US traffic for several years, and for a good reason. Their software is excellent, promos generous and payments (until recently) always prompt. They suddenly decided to close their affiliate program- and there were player payment issues too. Now… the base I had built up over 4 to 5+ years is decimated… looks like 80% down on income already, and falling. With no new players being added it is only a matter of time before this dries up completely.

The only ‘silver lining’ is that most players eventually got paid.

*Smackdown #3’*

Hungary… this was not a big part of my affiliate business, though I have a nice bonus site in Hungarian, and this site has a Hungarian version too. Many operators had already pulled out, and then to add insult to injury the government decided that showing any gambling ad to a Hungarian is illegal, sigh. We moved from .hu domains to .com… out of Hun jurisdiction, and changed the sites around once more. Big work, big uncertainty, fewer sign-ups, sigh!

Minor addition, completed a Portuguese bonus site revamp earlier this year, just as the law changed and all the sites pulled out of Portugal… This one is now a Brazilian Bonus site!

*Smackdown #4*

Bovada… this is a more recent one, got a note from Bovada saying that they did not want me to promote their poker room any more (not just me, everyone). All that work switching from Carbon to Bovada…. Anyway, this is just about completed, Casino and Sportsbook promotion is still ok for them, so I’ll focus on that… big effort needed to change things, had to repurpose some pages which ranked well too… sigh!

Solutions to the Smackdowns

Anyway, I am still smiling, still working away to make my sites as solid as possible for the readers.  

There are several solutions, shifting focus to 888 has been one of them, and to BetOnline for the US (now added Intertops, since this was a solid brand that just came back to the US and could potentially do better things next year).

I am also adding a casino section to SNG Planet. Yeah, I know – that will upset a certain percentage of poker players. Should not do really, those games really have evolved over the last few years. Slots are very entertaining these days, and live dealer casino games are a great new area too. This will be ready with the first 75-ish articles for the end of this month. The aim is for 150 for the end of the year and to see how traffic / interaction goes from there before building things up any further.

Plenty of sub-projects are underway too. Sidebars are now in place for in many articles, brushing up the language versions and even adding exit-pops to some of the bonus sites. It’s all go!

What About the ‘Wrong’?

I’ll admit it… It was not just the outside world…  I made some bad decisions this year.

I think I made bad decisions in most years to be fair. Always did say that as long as I get 51% right (and make plenty of decisions) then things should work out well. Poker playing logic in the real world!

The biggest error was focusing on a local project for expats here in Budapest. Now, this was / is a successful project. I built a platform from zero, to a significant number of visits a month (beating initial estimates / targets) over 6 months and held business and social events + made plenty of advertising sales… all good in that respect. My thinking was that this would force me to get out of my bubble and interact a little more with the community here. It had the opposite effect, caused work on my other projects to shift to the evenings and weekends, hmmm.

My problem is that this sucked up so much time (writing, managing a small team, company admin etc) that I de-prioritized my other projects.

Those ‘other projects’ should have been my main focus; those are my bread and butter.

The effects were not good.

The poker sites suffered a little, though Planet Greg and Planet Tibor did a great job keeping the ball rolling with those. It’s my casino site HighTech Gambling, my fitness equipment site, and my spread betting site JV which got next to no attention…

Things reached the point where my new ideas (my very own mobile slots (coming soon!)) were all getting pushed aside. I have been working 12+ hours a day, often for weeks at a time to keep up with everything and still falling behind.

It reached the point where I was feeling bruised and battered by the gambling industry, and down and frustrated that there were not enough hours left in the day after my other commitments to do anything about it.

Correcting my Course

I have started the process of correcting already. I’m moving on from the Expat community site, calling it a success and handing over the day-to-day running to one of the other investors. That will free up a lot more time to focus on new projects.

The Fitness equipment site is being scrapped and rebuilt. The quality / design / navigation is poor,  and the effort to fix it would be about the same as a new site with a fresh new design. That is already underway and should be ready in around 1 month.

SNG Planet Casino section already has 50 odd articles written, really good ones (thanks to Planet Nick!). They will go up all at once at the end of the month. After that I will move to focus on High Tech Gambling, and end the year by giving that site a brush up for both content and graphics and hopefully traffic.

My spread betting site will have the new-look completed this week, and will then have a big content revamp and some SEO work done. It should be making money by new year.

After that the slot games and other new projects can get underway… for 2016 I want to focus projects which have a link to the UK. I would like to build some kind of bridge back home over the next few years. I might revive my sleep related project, as that is an area which has become more interesting with recent tech advances. One more idea sees me starting a new personal blog... will keep that one under wraps for now. 

Sometimes in life you just have to admit that you took a wrong turn and correct course.

Will gambling smack me down again?

Of course it will.

Will I make some good decisions and some (with hindsight) bad ones?

Oh yes!

And just like this year, I’ll get back up, dust myself off and carry on fighting...

GL at the tables, Mark

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