Intress Media’s Maryna Sokirko talks about reinventing the affiliate review

Intress Media Maryna Sokirko
Maryna Sokirko

To say Intress Media’s Co-Owner and Product Manager Maryna Sokirko is dealing with a lot of change in her life is an understatement. A Ukrainian citizen, she is back in her country full time, but still dealing with the unrest that comes with war. She is doing this while building up Intress Media. The company is an affiliate organization with a focus on US states with online casino offerings. Sokirko is an experienced affiliate with expertise in product development in the fully regulated US space. 

“I have eight years of experience in affiliate marketing, I started as a social media manager a long time ago, then moved to the position of SEO, and then SEO team leader. Two years ago I made a decision to move on to developing a product from scratch,” Sokirko said.

“Then the idea of launching the project for legal markets popped up. Entering the US iGaming market is one of the greatest challenges for affiliates. It requires really stepping up your game, reaching new business and product development levels. And we’ve been carrying this idea in mind for the longest time.”

What stands out about Intress in the US space is the company is solely focused on online casino content, at least for now. While there are more states with sports betting as a legal gambling option, the company is instead focusing on an often overlooked and, in most cases, significantly more profitable industry.

“Although we recognize the demand for sports books, we also clearly understand that there is players interest and demand for online casino as well, and we respond to it,” she said. “We have experience in developing and launching affiliate casino websites. So it was a strategic opportunity to start with things we know like with the casino website and then move move on to the sports betting topic.”

So far, the company has two sites, iGamingNJ and iGamingMI, and work with clients like BetMGM, Golden Nugget, and Rush Street Interactive. That leaves opportunities to expand into other online casino markets like Pennsylvania, and, of course, Ontario. Sokirko is taking a measured approach to growth, but certainly understands the opportunity Canadian online casino offers.

“First we need to do research to assess all the risks and opportunities, learn about the regulations, and then learn how the industry in general in Canada functions. Only then we move on to launching, or considering launching an Ontario project,” she explained.

Even though New Jersey is the oldest online casino market, there were advantages to starting there, including the thorough licensing process. By satisfying what New Jersey requires, Intress Media is set up to move into other states with less stringent regulations more easily.

Sokirko is also undeterred at coming into a space where competitors have been for many years. To her, there are still plenty of content opportunities, particularly when it comes to online casino content.

“I see a lot of video content on YouTube, and those videos and those channels it seems like something is missing,” she said. “You see a person who is spinning the reels of slot machine and comments on that. But what if you start doing extra? You have all the tools yet to research to analyze what users need.”

Leaning into these less jackpot-focused videos that help answer user questions about various aspects of online gambling, she argued, helps new customers reach the comfort level necessary to deposit and play at a New Jersey online casino.

Intress aims to create content that is transparent and honest about the online casino experience for new customers. This is why Sokirko is ready to take a different approach to the stalwart of affiliate sites — the review.

“I cannot name a single hotel or restaurant where I stayed or had dinner without previously checking reviews,” she said.

She is correct too that review sites for everything from hotels to restaurants to product reviews all focus largely on what previous customers have to say.

“I think that the same approach needs to be implemented in the US affiliate market as well. I know some of the large worldwide affiliates websites have these review complaint sections, but I don’t see that this approach used in the US enough. So this is more about taking the customer reviews to the next level. Allowing people to comment, to leave a review, to tick all those stars, and ask them about their feedback on the casino.”

Sokirko and her team has handled a fair amount of disruption over the past five months trying to deploy these new ideas. However, the hope for Intress Media is the company can enter the US online casino space and do a little disrupting of their own.