Rise of the Celebrity Endorsement
For a long time, it seemed that celebrity endorsements were for big brands and big budgets. That isn’t to say that brand ambassadors like Pokerstars’ Rafa Nadal, 888’s Shane Warne and Jackpotjoy’s Barbara Windsor come particularly cheap, but there are other options out there.
In recent years, this has begun to change. Even looking in the affiliate space alone, we can see a handful of sites starting to capitalise on willingness of celebrities to cash in on their social media standing.
We only have to look at the likes of Freebets.com’s Matt Le Tissier to see that there is real value here in terms of building links. Not only do you gain access to the audience of the players, but in terms of content seeding (Yes, this is really legitimate seeding). Thinking about it purely pragmatically, a high quality site is actually willing to take content from a high profile individual, but they may not be so willing to link back to you otherwise, unless you pay them.
When Freebets.com signed Matt Le Tissier, the PR guys in charge of that actually did a very good job, not only in picking a celebrity who didn’t mind helping out, but in promoting the signing itself. The fact is Le Tissier (I’m not revealing the exact figures) probably would be in the budgets of most large affiliates and this is a man who regularly features on sky sports and is willing to let students traipse into his house and film interviews with him. The signing itself generated swathes of links and even got them some coverage on iGaming Business and still continues to generate good coverage to this day on sites such as this one.
The long term
“The long term goal is to give our user base a feeling that they get something special when they come to Freebets.com and give our brand an edge,” David Archer of Freebets said. “Of course we’re looking to create great content. Great content, of course, is much easier to outreach. Surely you’d be more willing to link to articles written by pro players, right? Creating this sort of content not only makes link building easier, but the punters like to read it and continuing with Matt for the foreseeable future is only expected to continue to generate excellent results.”
The possibility of authorship mark up being a big factor in the future of SEO makes this even more interesting as accessing an existing audience and a writer who could potentially be connected to major publications increasing his “author rank” becomes even more appealing.
To read more on author rank check out our article on Google Author Rank Updates
Getting in on the act
Whilst there are PR agencies that can help you with this, it can be done by cutting out the middle man. During the Amsterdam conference, I spoke to one man trying to do just that at this moment in time. While I’m not able to confirm directly who it is they’re working with, Harry Christodoulou, owner of BingoFind.com said, “We’ve seen the need to diversify, and as such we’re looking for a brand ambassador. It’s pretty cheap and worth it for the social media alone. The contract aspect is a bit of a nightmare and it’s not easy. But, we’re excited about where this could go in the future with regards to authorship and helping us becomes a brand in the eyes of Google. We’re hoping to make an announcement at the end of August.”
It’s a fact that Google does not love affiliates too much at the moment, and has turned up the dial on brand signals, so signing a celebrity is something that will generate a lot of citations, as well as links really boosting these signals.
Harry was kind enough to give a little detail on the process that he went through. “Firstly, we really had to think about what sort of celebrity we wanted. We wanted someone who was still somewhat active, but not so famous they’d be too expensive. So think B list.” He went on to say, “Finding agents is actually pretty easy, it’s mostly just a job of Googling around terms like celebrity name booking agent.”
“From that point we got a lot of rejections based on being a gambling brand and an affiliate at that, or some extortionate requests. We found very quickly that our hit rate was about 1 in 10 in terms of interest and perhaps 1 in 40 in terms of viability, but the reality is that the benefits from something like this well outweigh the workload. In all honesty, it’s kind of nice to tell people we’re going to be working with X even if I can’t allow it to be published until the pen hits paper.”
“Negotiating what we got and for how much has taken a long time, mostly we’ll be ghost writing and doing all the work and pretty much just licencing the name and the social media presence only really getting a verbal contribution we have to write up. Although this isn’t too bad it isn’t ideal, but does keep the costs down significantly.” This all being said, there is a lot of work involved in these process. Having worked towards this in the past, Harry’s version is very much simplified. There are contractual obligations on both ends usually.
There is, of course, the outsourced PR agency route, and while you may be able to broker a deal with them not taking a mark-up on the celebrity, you will likely have to sign up to some other sort of work. After all, they have to make some cash somewhere.
This is the deal that poker.co.uk is currently working to broker with an ex-England footballer (again I’m not allowed to say yet), who may not be a name currently associated with Poker, but that doesn’t really matter. Simply having a known name associated with a piece of content makes it not only more legitimate in the eyes of readers, but other webmasters as well.
The Difficulties That Poker.co.uk Found
A spokesperson (who didn’t want to be named) from poker.co.uk told us, “We missed out on our first choice due to the FA not wanting somebody who was still active with them endorsing a gambling brand. We realise the mistake that was made was actually checking with them and not just doing it.”
“There is also the fact that you will spend a bit more going through a 3rd party as they will obviously look to bolster the deal somehow, but we knew this would be the case when we set out.”
If anyone has any questions on how they can look to leverage celebrities then I’d be happy to answer in the comments sections below.