Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Skimming

The company Skimlinks was a big winner at the recent A4U awards winning Best Use of Technology, Best New Entrant and Innovative Publisher of the Year.

They work by allowing publishers to monetize their content by analysing it for potential to include affiliate links. For example, if I wrote a blog post about Nike trainers with a link to JJB Sports to purchase, Skimlinks would be able to find that link, recognise the link to JJB Sports and replace it with an affiliate link. As a publisher, I would now be earning revenue from what was previously a simple link on my website.

In content text linking is very much a silent participant in the online marketing world. Organisations such as Kontera and Infolinks are rarely discussed and seldom found in any top end content sites. Their value to the customer experience is questionable and publishers fail to make significant revenue from the cost per click model in place.

Therefore, it is easy to see why Skimlinks is appreciated by affiliates and publishers alike. They allow further monetisation of content by using the traditional CPA model.

What about Advertisers?

It is easy to see how Skimlinks is a fantastic tool for publishers, but does the innovative technology add positive value to advertisers?

Skimming is a generally regarded as a derogatory term. Although Pond Skimming is an excellent past time, the word is more commonly associated with Credit Card fraud. I would question whether Skimlinks is the best name for an organisation given the reservations about affiliate marketing still inherent within many e-commerce operations.

I have worked on both sides of the fence when it comes to an organisational attitude to affiliates; where affiliates are regarded as costly intermediaries and more and where they are embraced as a key driver of incremental sales. I know a number of directors that would object to me proposing that we work with an organisation called Skimlinks.

The ability to make incremental sales is a fair challenge to put to Skimlinks. It could well be argued that because the publisher already had links to the advertiser, they would have received the sale anyway. Skimlinks purely rewards the publisher for sales they are generating, even those they are unaware of.

Whether these reservations will define the success of Skimlinks or not, it is good to see innovation within the affiliate space. With the current dominance of comparison, coupons and cashback the affiliate marketing industry has a vested interest in protecting the large proportion of content affiliates that are missing out on last click attributed sales. I applaud Skimlinks attempts to reward content sites that add value to the customer journey but are increasingly getting less share of the overall bounty.

No comments: