Funny how recessions concentrate the mind. In just over a year UK startup Skimbit has made the full journey from Web 2.0 era “decision-making tool” with a vague business model about affiliate advertising, to re-engineer as an affiliate aggregator for publishers. Re-launching as Skimlinks, the site now aggregates 11 affiliate networks for clients like Future Publishing and The Daily Mail newspaper. The move means it has now attracted first round investment led by Sussex Place Ventures with participation from UK government body NESTA, The Accelerator Group, and Angels Duncan Jennings (eConversions) and Alex Hoye (Latitude Group). The amount was undisclosed but is understood to be in the vicinity of £700,000.
Skimlinks works by turning normal product links into affiliate links on-the-fly. A line of code populates the entire site including the archives. It then provides access to affiliate programs of over 7,000 international merchants (including the third of merchants that do not support deeplinking) across 16 affiliate networks. In these tough times affiliate marketing can be attractive to publishers but is usually an administrative nightmare and cedes too much control over editorial content. With Skimlinks a publisher can set which links should be affiliate ones or not. The service is currently free to use, and Skimlinks takes a small cut of the commissions earned by the website publisher.
Competitors like the older Dianomi and Chicago-based Science Revenue appear to have more clients, but given they are North America focused, Skimlinks has an opportunity to break out more in the UK and Europe.
Alicia Navarro, founder and CEO, reckons that “consumers no longer rely on advertising to
make their purchasing decisions, instead being driven by reviews and recommendations from both
editorial and user-generated content” – hence why publishers need to create the kind of content that is useful. Who knew?