Hyperlinks are the defining feature of the web – the literal H in HTML. Yet for all the web’s progress, the technology and process behind them are largely unchanged since the web began. An author inserts links when they write a piece of text and then no matter how often they get clicked on, no matter who’s looking and no matter how the world has changed, they remain the same, as if frozen in amber. Until today.
Since the earliest days of this company, I’ve held fast to the notion that many links have potential substitutes. Take product links: An author mentioning a product has several merchants to choose from when inserting a link. Which they choose can depend as much on habit as anything. Yet, for a foreign reader, a link to a domestic merchant might be entirely useless. This is true inefficiency; a shot-in-the-dark, one-size-fits-all approach that has no place in the modern web. Meanwhile, publishers have no way to know who most values their organic traffic and would-be buyers have no way to get that traffic.
We’ve been quietly building the technology to address these problems and today we are announcing the first fruits of our labor. Link optimization technology is an optional feature of VigLink Convert that modifies organic product links to point to a different retailer when it means earning more. Links can (and should) change over time to ensure the destination remains valid, relevant, and high quality. Publishers can opt in by signing into their account and enabling link optimization under their account settings. With the click of a button they can earn more from their existing content.
Too often, content monetization comes at the expense of user experience. In my opinion, that’s not sustainable. At VigLink, we aim to create monetization solutions that also make the web better. Optimizing links? That fits the bill. Optimized links mean publishers earn more from their content, retailers drive more sales from more customers, and for all of us who use the web, it means we see relevant links that work. The best native monetization solutions add value to the user experience.
Think about where this technology could go. Should links always be the same for everyone? Do some merchants convert mobile users into buyers better than others? Are readers who have a history of shopping at a particular merchant likely to shop there again? Data- and market-driven linking promises to change the experience of the web. VigLink is unlocking an entire link economy by aligning advertiser demand to publisher inventory and user experience. The future is dynamic linking.
As of today, we’re accepting new beta testers as capacity allows. With trillions of links on the web, most won’t change and our focus is starting with the optimization of commercial links pointing to products. During this beta period we will be expanding the universe of optimizable links, listening to feedback, and improving the technology.
Oliver Roup, Founder and CEO, VigLink