The deal sees Skimlinks built into and shipped with the vBulletin software, so that it can be enabled by any forum site instantly. Besides Adsense, Skimlinks is the only other ad platform to have this degree of integration with vBulletin and in fact, Skimlinks is to be vBulletin’s “exclusive in-text monetization partner”, says the company.
Skimlinks’ platform works by turning product links and product references into affiliate links, designed in a way so as “not to intrude on the community experience”. Forum owners that switch on Skimlinks earn commissions from up to 12,500 merchants for sales referred by their community. And as lots of user forums are product oriented, supporting a product-centric site, Skimlinks tends to perform best with in-text affiliate links converting at a rate anywhere between 3-10%, claims the company.
Skimlinks is keen to talk up user experience as a priority since ads of this nature can obviously be deemed intrusive. Skimlinks CEO and Co-founder Alicia Navarro says that the company recognises that “monetizing social media can be a sensitive activity” and that Skimlinks’ products are designed to be “considerate of the user experience”, and offer forum owners extensive customization features.
Interestingly, Navarro attributes in part the decision by the UK startup to open a U.S. office as the reason why they were able to strike a deal with vBulletin. “It really shows our move to open an office in the U.S. has been the right one.”
Skimlinks can be activated directly through vBulletin’s core software for all v4.x users, and as a plugin downloadable from vBulletin’s Members’ area for all legacy users.