Most online publishers are at least vaguely familiar with affiliate programs, which can help them generate revenue from the stores and products they link to. Unfortunately, actually managing accounts with these programs can be a bit of a pain, and many people simply forget to use them. VigLink is a new startup that’s looking to help by automatically inserting affiliate links whenever you link to a product from your site. The company has just disclosed a $800K funding round it raised last summer that was led by First Round Capital and Google Ventures, with a number of angel investors including Reid Hoffman, Dipchand Nishar, Niel Robertson, Hadi Partovi, Ali Partovi, Carlos Cashman, and Micah Adler.
For those that aren’t familiar with them, affiliate programs are often offered by online retailers who pay you a commission to drive traffic (and purchases) to their webstore. Amazon is best known for their program, but many other businesses now feature them as well. VigLink looks to help you use as many as these programs as you’d like with a minimal amount of effort. The site is currently in a private beta, but plans to launch publicly in the next few months.
VigLink further streamlines the process by maintaining its own account with these affiliate programs, and any publishers using VigLink are housed under these accounts. This makes it relatively easy for a publisher to get started (they don’t have to sign up for anything other than their initial VigLink account). But I’m not sure it’s a foolproof setup: if one publisher using VigLink starts behaving badly, there’s a chance that the affiliate program being abused will ban the entire VigLink account, which would affect all publishers using it.
CEO Oliver Roup says that the company is being as transparent as possible with affiliate programs to make sure that doesn’t happen. He also says that VigLink has a system that constantly monitors its publisher sites for spam, even long after they’ve signed up for the service (he likens it to the system Google’s AdSense uses).
VigLink generates revenue by taking a percentage of the affiliate fees it generates (the company hasn’t settled on an exact amount yet). Roup wouldn’t comment on any features that are in planning stages, but I suspect that they’ll eventually help publishers monetize by suggesting when they should insert affiliate links at logical places in their blog posts (say, when they mention a product). Likewise, VigLink could potentially offer a feature that would poll all of the affiliate programs in its system before inserting an affiliate link to determine which one would generate the most money for the publisher.