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.
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
Tags: Affiliate Links, Google AdSense, Monetization, Performance Marketing Association, PMA, Publisher Recruitment Council Posted in News and Updates
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.
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!
Tags: ad tech, content commerce, Monetization, Netpop, publisher roundtable, sovrn, VigLink Posted in News and Updates, Publisher Roundtable
We teamed up with Netpop and Sovrn to bring you the Fall 2014 Publisher Roundtable on monetization. The goal of this edition is to give publishers objective tools and insights they can utilize to make better-informed business and marketing decisions. During the two-month period the survey was live, 427 online publishers participated, including members of Publisher Roundtable as well as contacts from VigLink and Sovrn. Post survey, the Publisher Roundtable community now totals more than 700 publishers who have a combined 150 million uniques.
In order to get the best understanding of how publishers can better monetize their content, we focused on nine key topics.
Tags: affiliate, Merchants, Monetization, Netpop, publisher roundtable, publishers, sovrn, VigLink Posted in News and Updates, Publisher Roundtable
The changing seasons bring excellent topics for engaging content and sizable opportunities for earning. With each holiday comes this year’s “must-haves”, and audiences depend on publishers to guide them in their purchasing choices for these items. From pumpkin costumes, to stocking stuffers (even Santa needs a little help sometimes), your readers will depend on your content. The key to maximizing your earnings this holiday season is simple- plan ahead.
Strategically timing posts and discussing relevant products will spike a reader’s interest, thus increasing revenue. If you post too early, readers won’t be ready to engage; too late and they’ve gone elsewhere for guidance and likely missed the shipping window. The cut-off dates for shipping vary depending where the reader is located, but it’s generally suggested that publishers post about two weeks before the big day to give readers sufficient time to receive their item. It’s never too early to start brainstorming variations of content to post around this year’s holidays… start today!
Use our holiday calendar to ensure important dates are not forgotten, and remember to schedule your posts about these days sufficiently before-hand!
Tags: black friday, christmas, earnings, guide, Halloween, Holiday, Monetization, thanksgiving Posted in News and Updates
A few weeks ago Oliver Roup was featured on Zac Johnson’s “Rise of the Entrepreneur” Podcast. In their thirty minute discussion they covered the breadth of Oliver’s career and the ideas that were the driving force behind him founding VigLink. When Oliver started VigLink, he did so on the premise that if a publisher is connecting their audience with a product they want to buy, they should get credit for that. However, prior to VigLink, this was easier said than done.
VigLink erases the barriers publishers have when independently joining affiliate networks. Traditionally, to join an affiliate network one had to…
This is clearly an exhausting and time-consuming process, thus taking time away from producing quality content that readers enjoy. Oliver wanted to provide publishers with a way to focus on genuine content by creating a service which does work on the backend that isn’t possible to do by hand. Oliver points out that not only does the technology get you the highest rate, but also computes detailed reports allowing publishers to find out what products are most popular to their audiences. Finding out what content is most appealing to readers is good for everyone in that it keeps the audience interested, makes the publisher money, and drives traffic to the advertisers site!
And how about the best advice Oliver has ever gotten?
Focus on the long game.
Tags: content commerce, Monetization, rise of the entrepreneur, tech, VigLink, zac johnson Posted in Content Monetization
Possessionista is a blog people visit to find the fashion from their favorite shows. Have you ever watched Scandal or the Bachelor and wished you knew were you could find the clothing they wear? Dana Weiss did, and started a blog about around that premise in 2009. Find out how she turned her blog into a full-time job below…
Dana was working mom, but after giving birth to her second child she decided to become a stay at home mom. With newly acquired spare-time, she taught herself to blog in 2009 as a slide project to track the clothing she saw on TV. Soon after, people started emailing her that they too were searching for the same items, and Possessionista was born!
The goal of Possessionista is to help people find the clothes they like from the shows they love.
Dana has a lot of interaction with her audience. They communicate mostly over Twitter and email but also through the comments section of the blog. She finds the most effective mode of communication to be Twitter.
Possessionista allows Dana to do her favorite things: shop, watch TV, and write. She’s always been a writer and getting the opportunity to write about TV and clothing is truly Dana living her passion.
Every few years Dana does a redesign and continues to streamline the blog based on the feedback she receives from her readers. Because she wants to write about the shows her readers are watching, their feedback is absolutely imperative.
Dana’s policy has always been editorial first; in fact, she didn’t start monetizing the site until after it was already well established. She writes about the items she sees on shows, if she wants to feature an item that doesn’t have an affiliated link, that won’t stop her from posting it. That being said, monetization gives her flexibility that she wouldn’t otherwise have and allows her to contribute to her family.
Dana describes Possessionista as a shopping blog, not a fashion blog. In her experience, people come to the site with the intention of making a purchase. She discloses her use of affiliates and sponsors on both her site and twitter, but emphasizes that her monetization strategy doesn’t impact the overall goal of the site which is to provide readers with the best experience possible.
Dana works very closely with different show’s costume designers in order to track the clothing she spots in shows. She also works directly with brands, such as BCBG, to create coupon codes for showcased items. If they aren’t part of the current collection, she’ll go as far as organizing re-releases.
Another collaboration Dana initiated was with Shopbop with whom Possessionista created four style guides to correlate with different shows. By doing all of this work, she provides her reader with the luxury of simply visiting her blog to find these coveted items.
Tags: blog, content driven commerce, Monetization, posessionista, tech, VigLink Posted in Customer Showcase, Publisher Showcase
This article is cross-posted from Adrants where it was originally posted by Steven Hall. Guest author, Josh Jaffe, is the VP of Business Development here at VigLink.
Conde Nast’s recent announcement to merge Lucky Magazine with BeachMint, an online retailer, follows the relaunch of Domino Magazine, another Conde property, as an e-commerce store. The New York media giant isn’t the only one blurring the line between content and commerce. Meredith, Thrillist and Gawker are other prominent publishers investing considerable resources in commerce.
Despite these initiatives, commerce-based revenue remains a largely untapped growth opportunity for digital media companies. Display, native and video are the primary drivers of online publishing revenue. Yet, commerce holds the potential to generate a revenue boost of at least 10% with limited investment.
Fashion bloggers have been at the forefront of the move to incorporate commerce as a meaningful line of revenue. These writers leverage their influence to drive loyal readers from their site to buy a product from an online retailer they have a commission agreement with. They’ve recently expanded to capture purchase intent on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, and even YouTube.
Via its acquisition of ShopNation in 2012, Meredith is experimenting with on-site purchase as a means of driving commerce-based revenue. Men’s style publisher, Thrillist, earns most of its revenue from its JackThreads unit, the online retailer it purchased in 2010. Most publishers, though, don’t need to initiate their move into commerce by selling products direct to consumers. Gawker committed to commerce accounting for 10% of their total revenue in 2012 and achieved it last year without selling goods directly from its sites.
To start reaping commerce-based revenue, content must be created with purchase in mind. This is a natural fit for vertically oriented publishers. A technology site promotes deals at an online retailer. An outdoors publisher creates a product guide for camping or skiing. Broader media sites covering news or entertainment can also capture reader purchase intent by featuring travel deals, digital goods or style guides. Stories can be created by existing writers, non-editorial staff or a content agency trained to link story product references to online retailers.
Creating content with the intention of sending readers off-site to an online retailer may seem antithetical to product gurus charged with increasing site engagement. But, creating content that readers find useful and in tune with the brands and products they love actually boosts user loyalty and return visits.
The benefits are clear. The new found revenue is completely additive to the current revenue mix of display, native and video. It is less subject to economic downturns as advertisers are more willing to maintain budgets when spend is tied directly to revenue. And commerce-based revenue generates a predictable return on investment because revenue levers up in direct relation to the amount of content created and the audience pushed to that content.
While publishers keep mobile, social, programmatic and native top of mind, adding commerce as a core editorial and monetization strategy can yield an entirely new, meaningful line of revenue in 2015.
Written by Josh Jaffe, VP of Business Development at VigLink
Tags: AdRants, advertisers, best pratice, digital media, ecommerce, editorial, Merchants, Monetization, publishers, tech Posted in Content-Driven Commerce, Publisher Best Practices
The night of fright is a just a ghoulish 14 days away when the clock strikes dead on midnight tonight… Don’t miss out on this frighteningly good opportunity to write your halloween spook-tactual blog post. Even those from the other-side need to guided on what treats (and tricks) are this Halloween’s must buys! For all some ghoulishly good inspiration, latest offers, and commission increases remember to check our Merchant Explorer tool and our Insider blog.
Tags: Halloween, Monetization Posted in Publisher Best Practices
We built VigLink on the idea that site owners should be compensated for the hard work they put in starting, maintaining and growing their sites. Forum owners are no exception and that’s exactly why we’ve decided to address the unique aspects of forum monetization with VigLink. In this post, we’ll outline how VigLink monetization works for forums and some best practices for maximizing earnings.
Links posted on a forum can have significant earning potential – even if they’re posted by users. But turning potential earnings into actual money in the bank can be more trouble than it’s worth. That’s where VigLink comes in. VigLink technology works in two ways. First, we convert existing links into links that can make money. Your community members are constantly posting links to brands, products and sites they know and love. We make it easy to capture the value of these links. Most retailers are actually willing to pay for clicks to their site that turn into purchases. We automatically wire up your clicks to participate in these programs. Second, our advanced technology can automatically link references to products in forum posts. Often, forum members may simply forget or not go to the trouble of adding a link. VigLink conveniently adds the link so users don’t have to hunt for the product and you get credit for the click. To make this work well, VigLink has established relationships with over 30,000 merchants, more than any other link monetization service. Just about any link that can earn money will earn money.
Of course, as with any monetization strategy, there are some best practices that are worth keeping top-of-mind in order to help you take your earnings to the next level. Here are four simple ideas you can put into practice today:
There’s a reason VigLink is chosen by top forums – our solution is easy to implement, is maintenance-free, and perhaps most importantly, has virtually no impact on the community’s experience. Rather than bombarding your users with pesky, irrelevant banner ads, VigLink integrates seamlessly into posted content, so the conversation members came to enjoy is not compromised for the sake of trying to make a buck. VigLink is not a pop-up ad company; our technology doesn’t pretend to link words only to open up an irrelevant ad as the user inadvertently hovers over a double underline. We take a totally different approach – one that’s far more natural and organic.
We encourage you to sign up and find the tactics that work best for your forum by testing some of these ideas. Let us know if you have any questions or feedback – we’re always just an email away at email@example.com.
Whitney Smith, VigLink Marketing Communications Manager
Tags: Forums, Monetization Posted in Content Monetization
Last week, Mashable posted a video interview with Jesse James Garrett, author of The Elements of User Experience, and a pioneer in the space as it applies to the web.
Garrett points to a trend among technology companies in which they are now starting to invest heavily in developing and improving user experience (UX). As he sees it, companies have shifted from taking a narrow, tactical approach with graphic designers (buttons, menus, and fonts) to evaluating the entire picture of what makes a truly beautiful experience. Where UX was once a check box on the long list of tasks to complete a project, it has now evolved into an essential part of product strategy, and, for some businesses, a key driver of success.
When working with publishers, we often find them struggling to balance user experience with monetization. Distracting, irrelevant display ads could actually turn readers away, undermining the entire business. Yet monetization doesn’t have to compromise user experience. There is no foregone trade-off between readers and revenue. For example, limiting the number of ad placements while holding them to a strict measure of relevance and quality can help retain readers and maximize ad engagement. Of course, VigLink is a tasteful solution to monetization that respects user experience. By affiliating links within your content, VigLink doesn’t rely on the traditional tricks of distraction or interruption. By integrating a monetization solution into actual content (vs the white space around content) publishers can avoid the pitfalls of banner blindness, enhance the user experience, and still earn revenue.
For some, user experience is at the heart of how they run their company. For others, it’s a philosophy that drives the smaller, tactical decisions (such as monetization). Garrett’s interview got us thinking about how we incorporate user experience into our business. As you think about the same for your business, consider the old Google mantra – “focus on the user, and all else will follow.”
Tags: Advertising, Monetization, User experience, VigLink Posted in Relevant Reading