Affiliate Links vs. Google Adsense

The Performance Marketing Association is a wonderful asset that provides publishers with industry insights and tools to help them optimize their practice. One important offering of the PMA is their numerous councils including the one most dear to VigLink’s heart, the Publisher Recruitment Council which aims to, “attract new publishers to performance marketing and help publishers identify new monetization strategies and opportunities”. In doing so, they review different monetization strategies and evaluate key aspects of each, including pros/cons and use cases.

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In their latest white paper the Publisher Recruitment Council reviewed Google AdSense and came to the conclusion that there are three main benefits that are offered by affiliate links, but not Google Adsense. One example being that affiliate links tend to be far more relevant than Google AdSense. Tricia Meyer, experienced this firsthand when she was curious as to why her traffic was high yet revenue low. She describes looking back at her content and seeing “in the middle of (her) post about Champagne was an ad for an auto parts merchant.” Due to the irrelevance of the ad, it wasn’t surprising that despite her high volumes of traffic, she was seeing very low conversion and revenue. With Tricia’s vast experience using numerous monetization strategies also comes valuable insights. In a recent podcast she participated in with Lisa Picarille, who sits on the PMA board alongside Oliver Roup, they describe the different councils of the PMA and how they can assist various parts of a publisher’s overall monetization strategy.

We sat down with Lucy Bartlett, our Manager, Marketing and chair of the Publisher Recruitment Council, to get her thoughts on Google Adsense…

Q: For those who might not know, can you explain how Google AdSense monetizes blogs’ traffic.

A: “Google AdSense is a form of display advertising that is targeted toward your audience and is, to some extent, customizable. It’s a free service and payment received on a PPC basis.”

Q: Other than irrelevancy, loss of control, and loss of revenue what other issues have you heard of people having with Google Adsense?

A: “There are certainly many positive aspects about Google AdSense but the algorithm is not perfect. I’ve heard of many instances where the ads are not quite as targeted and useful to their audiences as publishers would hope and they have then not helped to enhance the reader’s experience.”

Q: How does Google AdSense impact the user experience of those visiting your site?

A: “When it works well and is relevant to your audience it can be a positive experience to your audience. That being said, if it isn’t aligned with your content it can be distracting and take away from the aesthetic and intrinsic value your content affords.”

Q: Who is a publisher that is using Google AdSense in conjunction with affiliate links and doing it well?

A: “Design Milk does a wonderful job of placing Google AdSense banners strategically throughout the site. In addition to the banner ads they also use VigLink to curate monetized links within their content.”

Q: What are the insights you get from Google AdSense compared with insights provided by VigLink?

A: “With VigLink there are deep insights into your audiences’ experience such as where they go after they leave your site, which content is most appealing to them, and which brands they are most engaged with.”

To learn more about the other various benefits of using affiliate links over Google AdSense be sure to download the free white paper provided by the Publisher Recruitment Council!

Written by Hanna Fritzinger

Happy Holidays from VigLink!!


Happy Holidays from our family to yours!

We wish you a very happy and healthy new year.  We’re excited for another year of hard work and innovation. Be sure to stay tuned for many exciting updates during 2015. For more pictures from our annual holiday party, check out our Facebook album!

VigLink’s Tips From BlogHer Pro 2014

Last week, Viglink attended BlogHer Pro and we’re thrilled to share some of the best tips we picked up from the wonderful speakers and attendees. To kick off the conference, the BlogHer team enforced the value of influencer content showing the evolution of advertisers’ monetization strategy over the last ten years.

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Know Your Value

Today, brands recognize the importance of user-generated content due to publishers strong influence across their audiences. Various publishers have the ability to develop content around a brand or product in their own voice. This is very powerful, especially to brands which now realize interest across online networks is just as important as the product they are selling. The term for brands being integrated into content where readers and users are is commonly referred to as native advertising. Along with native advertising, a couple other key topics of BlogHer Pro 2014 also included viewability and video.

Viewability is Key

Viewability isn’t a metric that all publishers have easy access to, for example Google Adsense does not provide publishers with their viewability. However, many of the BlogHer network have full confidence that will change in the near future. An ad is deemed “viewable” when an audience member is exposed to it for one full second while not scrolling the page. This is more difficult than it might seem. Follow these great key tips to help with viewability and minimize “missed opportunities”…

  1. Place ads where readers naturally pause
  2. Be cautious of installing same size ads next to eachother
  3. Speed up overall page load times
  4. Resize photos before uploading them to a post

On the contrary, there are several factors that decrease viewability such as too many ads concentrated in one place and users scrolling down the page before ads have time to load. The goal of most publishers should be ~70% viewability.

The Importance of Video

Kate Ferrara of Hearst Digital Media presented audiences with staggering statistics on video. For example, online video ad revenue will reach nearly 5 billion in 2016 up from 2.8 billion in 2014, while TV will decline 3% per year during the same time.  Additionally, content with video embedded performs 24% better than content without. One key advantage to using video is increasing audiences’ time spent on site. This is strongly considered by both Google and Facebook. Kate’s top tips for optimizing your videos include…

  1. Keep it short, 1-2 minutes
  2. Make it work without sound
  3. Pick the best still to grab the viewer
  4. Tell them what they’re watching
  5. Grab the viewer in the first two seconds

Videos over a minute are likely to perform poorly over social, and those without overlays make it difficult for viewers to engage with the video unless they use sound. When optimizing videos for Youtube write detailed metadata following keyword strategies and annotate the video with call to auctions and links to related content. To optimize for Facebook, which has 1 billion video views a day, it’s imperative to upload videos directly into the Facebook player where the video begins automatically when a user hovers over it.

Stay tuned for further tips and posts from BlogHer Pro 2014!

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Written by Hanna Fritzinger

New Bookmarklet- An Upgrade to VigLink Anywhere

Today, we are thrilled to announce an exciting upgrade to VigLink Anywhere with a simple, yet powerful bookmarklet feature. The bookmarklet lets publishers build links more quickly and efficiently, particularly when they’re intended for use in social media.

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Using the bookmarklet, you can create an Anywhere link in one click, without needing to leave the merchant’s product page.  With a second click, the URL can be converted into a Bitly link. With a third click, you can share the link directly on Facebook or Twitter, or copy it to the clipboard for use elsewhere. Sharing affiliated links on social media has never been easier!

The bookmarklet lets you choose a default Campaign for links’ revenue, and also to override it on a link-by-link basis.  Finally, the bookmarklet plays nicely with the pages it’s loaded on, going out of its way not to interfere with scripts (such as jQuery), and cleaning itself up when it’s dismissed. You can share a page and earn, all while enjoying an undisturbed browsing experience!

Download the bookmarklet today!

Eric Soli joins VigLink as Vice President of Finance

We are excited to announce our newest addition to the executive team, Eric Soli.  A veteran of the advertising technology industry with deep experience leading teams domestically and abroad for a range of companies, Eric will oversee VigLink’s finance function and work alongside the executive team to grow the company through new market opportunities.

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“Eric marks another great addition to our VigLink team,” said CEO, Oliver Roup. “His experience and skillset within the fast-growing field of advertising technology will be instrumental as we continue to evolve and scale our business models.”

“When I heard about this opportunity, I really got excited,” said Eric. “I’m looking forward to working with this talented management team that Oliver assembled and provide advertisers and product enthusiasts with additional revenue opportunities through our evolving real-time auction platform.”

Prior to joining VigLink, Eric was Vice President of Finance and Operations with advertising technology leader Zeta Interactive, which acquired his former company Adchemy Actions in 2013.  At Zeta Interactive, Eric led the integration of infrastructure and multiple operational and reporting platforms.  Eric led Finance and Operations at Adchemy Actions from 2008 through the acquisition, during which time the company grew from $28 to $60 million in revenue.

Before entering the advertising technology industry, Eric led various finance and management functions for several companies, including Catalyst Semiconductor (acq. by Cree, Inc.), Spectrian Corporation (acq. by REMEC, Inc.), Levi Strauss & Company, and Ernst and Young.

Eric holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration from the University of Nevada and is a Certified Public Accountant.


VigLink Acquires LinkSmart And Tops Up Series C to $20 Million


Today, we are thrilled to announce the purchase of LinkSmart.  In connection with the acquisition, VigLink also received additional funding from leading VC firms Foundry Group and Costanoa Venture Capital.

This deal marks another milestone of our continued leadership in content monetization.  The primary motivation behind the transaction was VigLink and LinkSmart’s shared vision of making every link intelligent and valuable.

“Traffic is the currency of the web” said VigLink CEO, Oliver Roup. “In LinkSmart we saw a common belief in the power of links and a great opportunity to significantly grow the size and scale of our business. We are thrilled to welcome our new valued customers.”

LinkSmart’s publisher network has over a billion page views per month and includes top editorial sites such as BuddyTV and Purch.  “At LinkSmart, making our customers more successful has always been first priority.  This transaction will give access to the VigLink platform and create more revenue opportunities for our publishers while still upholding their user experience standards,” said LinkSmart CEO, Pete Sheinbaum.

Alongside the acquisition, LinkSmart backers Foundry Group and Costanoa Venture Capital topped up the VigLink Series C to $20M.  Seth Levine, Managing Director at Foundry Group will join VigLink’s Board of Directors.  “VigLink is the clear leader in content-driven commerce. We’ve been watching VigLink for a long time and I’m excited to be an investor,” said Levine.

“Live Your Passion” ft. Audizine

Enthusiast content is one of the most powerful forms of editorial content available on the web.

We work with publishers to ensure their content is as powerful as possible and carries the greatest potential influence. One of these publishers, Anthony Marino, President of Audizine, has turned his passion for Audis into a full-time job. He’s grown the site into the largest Audi automotive enthusiast community of its kind. Audizine covers a wide variety of topics from Audi related news and photos to discussion forums and classifieds. Watch the video to find out more about Anthony and how he shares his influence with thousands of readers!

Written by Hanna Fritzinger

Join our Celebration of Fierce Females!

If you’re going to be at BlogHer Pro December third and fourth, be sure to stop by our booth and say hello!  In preparation, we want to show off some amazing online female entrepreneurs. We want you to join the campaign! Simply print the card, take a picture with it and share it with us at! We’ll have them on display at BlogHer and share them via our Facebook to tell the world what makes you so unique and fabulous.


Written by Hanna Fritzinger

Google DoubleClick Ad Glitch Potentially Lost Publishers Millions Today

Were you online today between 9 and 10:45 a.m. ET? Did you notice anything different about the sites you were visiting? Perhaps they looked a bit less cluttered than usual. If this was something you came across, you witnessed Google’s DoubleClick ad Server was down. Instantaneously, publishers began losing out on millions of dollars in revenue. This was a large hit to many publishers as Google’s advertising platform provides them with a large portion of the earnings they bring in daily to their sites.


While this was occurring, there was an aspect of the Internet that stayed exactly the same and continued to function earning publishers revenue. It has been apart of the web since the beginning and has earning potential that must not go unrecognized. It is the link. Links are an integral part of any online strategy as they seamlessly connect readers to the merchants and products they seek. In this form of marketing, the publisher writes editorial content and links to products, leaving the “advertising” to the landing page of the merchant’s site. The ad itself doesn’t exist on the publisher’s site at all.

The web without banner ads is not only more enjoyable, but allows readers to focus solely on the editorial content that publisher’s work so hard to produce. We think publishers deserve credit for sending readers where they want to go, and that’s exactly why we are delivering them value.

Written by Hanna Fritzinger

How to Skip the Monetization Struggle

Publisher Roundtable, a collaboration between VigLink, Netpop, and sovrn, proved to be incredibly fruitful in producing valuable insights on monetization. One important aspect participants addressed was their expectation of monetization vs. the reality they face on a day-to-day basis. When asked about their expectations, the majority of participants (39%) said they didn’t know what to expect. Additionally, 37% said reality didn’t meet their expectations, 63% of that group admitting that monetization was actually worse than they expected.

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The participants were split up into three groups, <10K, 10K to 49.9K, and 50K+ monthly uniques. When asked if monetization has been easier/faster or slower/harder than expected, and how accurately they can predict income, it became apparent that the participants with higher uniques are monetizing with the most ease. For example, 37% of <10K monthly uniques found it much slower/harder compared to only 15% of those over 50K. On the contrary, 16% of those 50K+ found it much faster/easier with only 7% of <10K monthly uniques feeling the same way.

The trend of larger publishers having an easier time, carried over into the monetization report card where participants were asked to grade both themselves and the industry on monetization. As a whole, the majority of participants graded themselves (39%) and the industry (44%) at a C. However, when broken up into the three groups of varying monthly uniques, we saw smaller publishers giving themselves and the industry a much lower grade than those with higher uniques.


The results from this part of the report show that the higher a site’s monthly uniques, the greater their satisfaction with monetization. The sites with higher monthly uniques are clearly doing something right, but ironically they’re using the exact same monetization options. So how are they having so much more success? It all comes down to the production of top-quality content. More people are coming to these sites because they enjoy the content and have come to trust these publishers to produce content they can depend on. Once that trust has been established, people are more likely to click through links in the content and, ultimately, make purchases.

For those with a smaller amount of uniques, monetization is bound to be challenging due to less potential purchasers. However, the best way to increase your readership and encourage people to share the content from your site is by producing thoughtful, unique content. When genuine content is produced, readers recognize that and you’ve earned yourself a fan. Monetization isn’t always easy, especially for those just starting out, but focusing on your content is a sure way to achieve long-term success.

To see full results from the report on monetization, visit the Publisher Roundtable site!

Written by Hanna Fritzinger