My 15 Minutes
It was a bit of a shock to open the reader this morning and see Bill Rini had singled out my blog. At this point, I'm pretty much a boutique blog with limited following. Poker is only a portion of what I cover and I can understand that those looking for a poker fix have to put up with a lot of other variety. So, the blog has a hard time claiming it is a poker blog.
I did have a poker blog. It was on a TonyG site. I started a few weeks before the UIGEA hit – talk about timing. As affiliates go it ranks at or near the top. Premium staff at these sites began taking a hit almost immediately and that continues to this day.
One of the points in the blog he referenced he disagreed with. “But there is little or no benefit to the bodies found.” He's right in how he's thinking about but I don't think we're really that far apart. The affiliate program is about warm bodies. There isn't any qualification. The program is pretty much like throwing crap at a wall with the hope that some sticks.
Contrast that to what is the most sophisticated “Loyalty Program” in the industry – Harrahs. They mine their data with sophistication. That really doesn't happen online. Bill categorizes the 'warm bodies' with six points. His idea is to provide a plan to service the five areas with his Googlish sixth point. That's basically their mantra of “Do no evil.”
He detailed how some sites aren't doing that. But gives tacit acknowledgment that solutions across the board are mostly one size fits all. All the online marketing schemes are that. They look at the numbers and have a single program that they try to tailor to revenue whales. The Total Rewards approach is far more tailored.
Bill adds a lot more and is succinct in his detailing. But also recognizes how flawed it is. I won't go line by line any further. His views stand well on their own. Instead, I'll mention the one site that I think got it right from the start. That was the first site I played on in the early days – PokerRoom. It was one of the first and largest.
They had the player points just like all the rest and you could get goodies in partial payback from the rake. But, their real program addressed the segments and created a better experience.
They had a lobby chat. They had one of the first forums. The lobby chat created a sense of community. (Here's an old link to my group there.) We'd actually plan to meet friends there and go play. The forum was the typical free-for-all. It was moderated by low level moderators but they also had a couple of upper level marketing guys that'd do thing on the fly with far greater authority. They put together a lot of little promos that weren't costly but paid attention to the ambiance. Strangely enough, people would kill to get a PokerRoom bathrobe. The conniving for one was amazing.
Each day they had three big freerolls. In the current day, freerolls are like $50 or for player points. Theirs were for three-grand. Payouts were broad. Tops was like $150. But it drew almost everybody. The gotcha was you had to have player points to clear the cash. It was four points to the dollar. But, you kept your points. It forced all those people to get points — always full with 3000 players. Easy for the real customer and a self-structured incentive to the others. I made some nice change in them as did many serious and regular hobby players. The program was well thought out to enhance play/revenue.
A friend there was a 3-6 grinder. She loved their daily kickback to the top 20 in rake. It was a nice piece of change but low cost in the overall scheme. All the grinders played harder and longer because of it.
The programs were well thought out and they were self-maintaining. The site wasn't a cheap site to play on. The lowest ring games were .25-.50. The cheapest SnG was $5 with a $1 rake.
It was sold just before the UIGEA hit and finally merged away in the fallout. They did screw up by allowing skins and those skins acted like the typical sites with kickback and such watering their profits and stealing away regular clients from the main site. But, for a while, they marketed better than all the rest.