This week’s news that Yahoo! would acquire Tumblr thrust the company’s monetization strategy squarely into the media spotlight. We’ve been following the discussions here at Skimlinks, and we think it presents an excellent opportunity to bring up the value of affiliate marketing, and how it can benefit social sites in addition to the range of other content site types we work with.
Typically, content sites have monetized through display ads, though advertisers have grown increasingly dissatisfied with the low click-through rates (hovering around 0.2%), and are openly experimenting with other forms of digital advertising, like native, and other forms of content monetization altogether. For example, social sites like Tumblr have been experimenting with native formats, like its successful ad for Coca-cola, but these sites still need to find more revenue streams and methods to monetize their content in such a way that does not clutter the site design or annoy readers.
Enter affiliate marketing. Whereas affiliate had been relegated to being the unsung hero of the marketing budget, now, by many accounts, it is becoming a mainstream form of marketing for advertisers, and of monetization for publishers. Content creators easily benefit – once they enter one line of Skimlinks code into their websites, automatically, all links included are changed to affiliated links, earning them commissions when visitors make a purchase. Advertisers benefit by having their product inserted directly and seamlessly into the content itself as a hyperlink, where the product mention appears as a natural extension of the story users are reading, which engages rather than annoys users.
Content sites have an excellent track record for bringing in new customers thanks to the rise of social discovery. Consumers are increasingly finding out about new products through other users via the spectrum of non-traditional media, including larger social sites like Tumblr, where users can see images of products in action, or are discovering new music through Spotify or finding out about new furniture through sites like Pinterest or Houzz. What is consistent across content site platforms – which can include social sites in addition to editorial sites, blogs, product review sites – is that these sites regularly spark a consumer’s interest in a new product.
Skimlinks’s approach to affiliate marketing seamlessly combines three key elements of good marketing: the right message (relevance to content), with targeting the right audience (the user being primed by the article to make a purchase), at the right time (when the user is online and able to make a purchase). As a testament to the power of content-driven purchase intent is the steady volume of dresses in Kate Middleton’s wardrobe that sell out immediately after she is photographed wearing them. This example is a tad extreme, but you get the idea!
In a boon to advertisers, affiliate marketing’s ROI is trackable, so it’s easy to see its value. Using Skimlinks, online retailers know exactly the number of visitors that are being driven to their sites, which content sites drove them there, where users browsed before making a purchase, whether or not their readers made a purchase, and if they did, which product they purchased. This is all very valuable data for advertisers to better understand and enhance the targeting of their audiences. For more on how advertisers can successfully implement an affiliate marketing program, our own director of marketing, Aaron Weissman has some advice.
Because of this and more, we expect to see more and more social and content sites using Skimlinks to monetize their content. The marketers who get involved earlier will benefit the most – learning how to better target consumers sooner, attract more new customers to their sites and take full advantage of e-commerce and the opportunities it affords them.