At last week’s London Affiliate Conference, Affiverse caught up with Harry Bowden, the new Head of Commercial at CheckdMedia, to find out what he has planned in his new role.
Affiverse: Firstly can you explain your history within the sports betting and affiliate space.
Harry Bowden: I started off my career at Sky Bet. The company at the time was based in Harrogate and I was still at university. I got some part-time work on there acquisition team and at the time the main focus was driving new players through from Sky Sports, from Sporting Life and from Oddschecker – which was basically our in-house affiliate.
After 18 months of that, I managed to build a relationship with Derren Mags, who was the MD of Oddschecker, and through that I got my role managing the commercial team at Oddschecker. At the time the business only had about 20 full-time employees, so it was still very much in startup territory.
The challenge for us was around scaling, so I came into that quite raw, I hadn’t done anything affiliate-led, and I guess Derren taught me the ways of the world in that respect. Working on the affiliate side really suited me, to go out and meet lots of different bookmakers, lots of different people from the industry.
And after about six or seven years there I started working back at Sporting Life and then I decided to move away, simply as I was having to travel to Leeds a lot and I had a young baby on the way. Then after a short stint at Betway, I’ve taken on the role at CheckdMedia working with Jamie and Lee who I’ve known for years. I’m really excited to help them grow their business both in the UK and internationally as well.
AI: Why have you decided to join CheckdMedia?
HB: As I mentioned, I’ve known Jamie and Lee for a long time. They were the first, through FootyAccumulators, socially-led sports betting brand, who were able to capture that market. And as they matured as a business, there’s so much more scope and they’ve realised this.
Especially from the product side, they have websites, but really we want to be building out those products and engaging, so there’s a lot of scope for growth for our own products and driving players through SEO through paid media and having something that’s really engaging rather than just social pages.
AI: What will your Head of Commercial role broadly entail?
HB: So to begin with, it’s primarily to be working with the bookmakers and optimising those relationships. One of the things we really focused on at Oddschecker was our premium partners – five or six to really focus on and build really strong relationships with, and that’s something I want to bring to CheckdMedia, making sure we’re able to amplify content, drive new players, be more than just an affiliate, which we have the ability to do.
We have strong reach, we have a unique audience, we’re essentially the largest sports betting community across social media. There are others which have larger audiences but they’re not as niche or specific as what we’ve got. Obviously the affiliate side of the business is something we’ll continue with too.
AI: CheckdMedia are based in Manchester. What are the positives and negatives that come with being based outside of London?
HB: Well I’m going to continue to be based in London and I’ll go to Manchester every other week and probably spend three days there. I like Manchester as a city so I’ll enjoy visiting but I’ll also continue to be based in London. There are other affiliates that are based in and around Manchester. The talent pool is there and it’s a case of being able to access and optimise it.
AI: Looking ahead to the remainder of 2019 and beyond, what can we expect from CheckdMedia?
HB: One of the things we want to be looking at is M&A, which is something the guys have already dipped their toe into with Oddschanger roughly 18 months ago. So we’ll be looking at that for sure.
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