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From link affiliation to the world's largest source of shopping intent data: How Skimlinks forged a lucrative revenue stream and granular data platform for publishers

Posted 4 months ago by Alicia

Last year we drove almost $1 billion in ecommerce transactions in our network.

That’s a reflection of how far affiliate marketing has come as a strategic revenue stream for publishers of all shapes and sizes. When we started out, affiliate was a side revenue earner. Editorial teams didn’t prioritise it because it was time consuming and low return. Why focus on a revenue stream where you only earn small amounts if someone buys something, when alternatives like sponsored content, subscription models and advertising provided direct and significant returns?

Now that’s changed. Gradually, affiliate has proved its value as a lucrative incremental revenue stream and excellent source of insight into the shopping behaviours of their audience, which can be used across the business to build revenues and engagement with their content. Moreover, as it’s proved its value, publishers have sought to dedicate more resources and look at comtent – commerce-related content – more strategically. Last year 80% of our top publishers added a commerce editor to their newsroom, whose sole job is to create comtent that their audience values and that then earns revenue through affiliate links.

It’s also become clear that Skimlinks can act on behalf of our publishers as a data monetisation platform that can be the David to the duopolistic Goliath. By creating an audience data co-operative, and using our enormous scale to create predictive targeting capabilities that can challenge Facebook and Google, we can drive incremental data revenues and share audience data to participating publishers.
We value the work publishers are doing and want to support that however we can. We also recognise that giving publishers a share of the revenue from our data sales and access to the data itself strengthens a virtuous cycle.

It starts, as it always has, with publishers creating amazing comtent. That comtent drives sales and provides an excellent research and entertainment utility to their readers. They experience value from this utility, the audience develops and grows, and a picture of their shopping behaviours and preferences starts to be be built.

Those data points fuel Audiences by Skimlinks – our data product – which we then license to brands, retailers, and other activation platforms. We are now a Data-as-a-Service platform, allowing third-parties to build applications on top of our shopping intent data, and building a significant source of incremental income to participating publishers. This additional income hopefully can fund dedicated comtent teams, closing the loop on this virtuous cycle. Besides the revenue share, we also offer participating publishers access to the data in their own data management platform or ad server, to help each individual publisher have the scale and targeting capabilities of a Facebook or Google.

Our tools are equipping publishers for the future. Comtent is a lucrative revenue stream, that as part of a diversified monetization strategy, can help chart a future for publishers beyond dependence on display advertising and at the mercy of ad blockers. With Audiences, we’re empowering publishers to take the fight to Facebook, strengthening their own advertising efforts and using their insights to open up a fresh revenue stream at the same time.

You can read original coverage of our results on Tech Crunch here

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