Skimlinks Turning Links Into An Affiliate Business For Publishers Says CEO Navarro

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SkimlinksAlicia Navarro is CEO of Skimlinks, an affiliate links ad network.

AdExchanger.com: Where did the name and idea come from?

AN: When I originally started the company, it was completely different. ‘Skimbit’ was a social decision-making app, named because it 'skimmed the best bits’ from sites you liked.

We eventually built our own monetization technology as a means of turning the user-generated links on our site into affiliate links and we called it 'Skimlinks' around the office.

When we decided to flip the focus of the company and work exclusively on this technology, 'Skimlinks' became the name of our company!

What problem is Skimlinks solving?

We help publishers monetize their content simply and seamlessly, so they get rewarded for the role their content plays in creating purchase intent.

So, rather than publishers having to sign up to affiliate networks themselves, apply for merchant affiliate programs manually, create their own affiliated deeplinks, embed these ugly links in content, and manually optimize and collect reporting data, we do it for them. Skimlinks handles all the aggregation, automation and optimization.

Can you take us through a typical use case of Skimlinks at work?

Let’s say you are a blogger, or have a forum, and you have links on your site to merchants like Macys.com or Zappos.com for example.

If you have the Skimlinks javascript on your site, these links to merchants will be turned into their equivalent affiliate links when a user clicks on them. In this way, the blog or forum will earn a commission on sales generated from links in their content.

How do you differentiate yourselves against similar services?

We have a very rich product set to suit every type of publisher.

We have our aggregated product feed called EveryFeed, a product research tool called SkimKit, a set of search widgets and plug-ins dedicated just for forums and blogs (with features like auto-disclosure and user opt-outs) and the biggest difference is SkimWords – it’s the next step up from our base SkimLinks technology, that automatically finds product references in content and turns them into relevant links to where those products can be purchased.

Finally, we have offices in both London and San Francisco, providing passionate, personable around-the-clock support.

Is there an application of Skimlinks products for brand advertisers who want to just drive awareness?

We have some products in the works to deliver this, watch this space!

Does Skimlinks believe in the viewthrough conversion?

It’s not so relevant for what we do, but we do believe that publishers deliver more value than traditional affiliate marketing can pay a publisher. This is because publishers are often very early in the purchase funnel, and CPA tends to reward the 'closers' rather than the 'introducers' or 'influencers'. We believe publishers play a more pivotal role in creating purchase intent, and that traditional CPA doesn't do a great job for these publishers.

What's the target market for Skimlinks on the publisher and advertiser sides? How do you see this evolving?

Our target market has always been publishers in any product-centric vertical, like technology, automotive and fashion, to name a few.  I think this focus will remain, but may expand as more merchants get into affiliate marketing as it becomes more and more mainstream.

What's your take on the affiliate business today? How has it changed and where is the opportunity?

I think affiliate marketing has evolved so much in the last few years.

When we started, affiliate marketing was a very peripheral form of monetization, used mainly by pure internet marketers doing lead generation campaigns for e-books and health products.

Over the years, it has become more ubiquitous and mainstream, both in terms of mainstream content publishers realizing it is a valuable, incremental form of monetization, and mainstream merchants dedicating marketing budgets to this channel. However, compared to banner and text ad space, there is still minimal technology innovations in this space, which is what really excites us: there is an opportunity to really make in-text monetization appealing, welcomed and effective, which is what drives us.

How are you funded? Profitable?

We have a fantastic set of VCs and Angels backing us, including Sussex Place Ventures (an off-shoot of London Business School) and The Accelerator Group (an off-shoot of Index Seed Ventures).

A year from now, what are some milestones you would like Skimlinks to have accomplished?

We’d like to build our SkimWords technology to a point where it becomes the most welcomed and effective form of in-text monetization available.

Follow Alicia Navarro (@AliciaNavarro), Skimlinks (@skimlinks) and AdExchanger.com (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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