2020 has been different in so many ways, for reasons that can’t have escaped anyone at this point. Many industries have taken a hit because of widespread lockdowns, travel bans and the implementation of various other restrictions. There’s only a few weeks left of the year that many companies would like to forget, but it seems like 2021 may follow in the same footsteps. The gambling market has been subject to a range of restrictions as well, but how did it cope?
Eskil Kvarsntröm, CEO of Leadstar Media has summarized the year at the affiliate company.
How have you approached 2020 in terms of structuring your organization?
– Solely focusing on the business side of things, we, just like many others have been challenged this year. In early March we sent employees home and transitioned towards a more remote working organization. It was an abrupt change we hadn’t planned for, but it was necessary to do our part to help keep the numbers down. However, it also had a positive impact on the whole organization. We had some colleagues working from home in different parts of the world even before the outbreak of the pandemic so transitioning to a more remote working structure brought more colleagues together in a way that was different from before.
As a largely sports betting focused affiliate, were you ever worried that Leadstar would have to lay people off and/or scale down when many sporting events got postponed?
– I wouldn’t say worried, but there were a few months where we had no idea when, how or if things were going to restart. At the same time we set out on a mission to work even harder and really seize the opportunity that presented itself, rather than slowing down. It was definitely a risk in doing so, but looking back the business has reached great heights in 2020 thanks to the work we collectively put in at the beginning of the year. We haven’t laid off anyone, instead hired 14 additional colleagues, expanding our team to 35+ co-workers.
What trends have you picked up on during the year, and do you think they’re here to stay?
– The whole world has naturally gone more digital, and we’ve seen search volumes go through the roof for some keywords and markets. I specifically think of Italy, where retail betting has been and still is very big. But when the country was forced to close down a lot of people moved online instead which have had a really positive impact on our Italian sites. I truly believe that this would have happened anyway eventually, but it has been propelled by the situation as online betting became the only option available. Therefore I also believe that this behaviour is going to stay when this is all over. There are more trends we’ve observed, but this is the biggest one and delving more into these would require its own article.
You mentioned that Leadstar Media has reached great heights in 2020, what does that mean and what’s the reason for that?
– It can mean a few different things, such as launching more new products than any other year, expanding to further states in the US, structuring the organization and making Leadstar Media a place where everyone feels included and happy. These are all things we use to measure success. As for raw numbers, we, for example, sent 160% more NDC’s YoY in October – all through organic growth. This growth proves that what we’re doing is working.
There are many reasons why this has happened so it’s hard to pinpoint one. For example we’ve launched an additional nine products in seven new markets. Our Swedish casino product Casinodealen.se has taken major steps in the rankings, and, as I stated previously, many more people are at home searching for betting sites online.
Lastly, what are you most proud of in 2020 and how will 2021 look for Leadstar Media?
It’s definitely the employees of Leadstar Media. The more we grow the harder it becomes for me and the founders to be involved in every detail. And we shouldn’t. Our job is to create a structure in which people can grow and take responsibility for their own work without micromanaging. I’ve seen many people step up to the challenge and become leaders this year which makes me very happy. Everything from building and developing their own projects, but also acting as mentors for new hires, teaching them about SEO and showing them the ropes.
It’s just the way we want it to be.
In 2021 we are going to launch a bunch of new sites that currently are in the pipeline, both for new and existing markets. We’ve spent a lot of time this last year building a very good foundation on which we can expand. I also hope that we can get the team back together again and meet everyone in real life.
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