Tech | VigLink

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

VL-LS-blog

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.

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.

brake

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

Employee Spotlight: Chase Sippel

Question: Where were you born?
Chase Sippel: I was born in San Dimas, California. It’s right outside of LA and best known for being where the bodacious “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” is set.

Q: When did you get interested in playing football?
CS: I only started to play football once I got to high school; they recruited me to play because of my size. Up until high school I swam and lifeguarded.

Q: Why Harvard?
CS: I applied to 22 schools, thinking I would only get into one or two. Once I received my acceptance letters, I was incredibly indecisive where I’d go. My mother told me, “You’re either going to Harvard happy or sad, pick one.” I chose to go happily.

Q: What was the best part of your Harvard education?
CS: Definitely all of the amazing people I met. I’ve forged some lifelong friendships there. Aside from the friends, the classes were amazing. It’s an incredible experience to study under the professor that wrote all of the textbooks.

Q: What brought you to San Francisco?
CS: I really wanted to come close to home in order to be closer to my grandmother, and my family on my father’s side. I have lived in NY, LA, and Boston but find the diversity and culture of San Francisco to be unparalleled.

Q: Why VigLink?
CS: I thought I would go into investment banking or consulting after graduation like so many of my peers. However, I had experience in wealth management and was fascinated by the tech industry. It was a space that seemed incredibly exciting and challenging. I realized VigLink was the place where I could truly grow as an intellectual and learn from its brilliant minds.

Q: What is your advice for publishers to optimize their revenue?
CS: I have a few tips for publishers:

  1. Turn on insert; it creates value where it is already inherently there. Additionally, make sure you update the plug-in settings for insert, if you’re running an automotive vbulletin 4 forum be sure to classify it as such to allow the crawler to function properly.
  2. Create high quality content; heartfelt, organic content is what resonates best with readers. Too much of the internet is clouded with click bait. Passion shows through and caring about an online community can go a long way.
  3. Don’t ignore the numbers. Dig into your metrics to find out what’s working and what’s not. This insight should aid you in creating the best possible content for your site.

Q: What are you most excited about at VigLink?
CS: I’m really excited to make optimizations across platforms as well as help BD succeed. It’s exciting to help people pursue their passions and create meaningful revenue for them through VigLink’s technology.

Interviewed by Hanna Fritzinger. Designed by Kay Sathienvantanee.

“Live Your Passion” ft. PurseBlog on #NationalHandbagDay

We represent some incredibly talented publishers. They’re an unprecedented group who are dedicated to the production of high quality content their readers love. Audiences trust these publishers and look to them for guidance. The exchange between publishers and readers is one that includes a great deal of thought. When publishers curate genuine content their passion shows through. Giving publishers the freedom to do what they love day in and day out is something we take great pride in at VigLink.

Today we congratulate PurseBlog on the second annual #NationalHandbagDay! National Handbag Day celebrates the design, craftsmanship and fine materials that go into the thing we carry with us every day: the handbag. Their wonderful team works tirelessly not only to be the leading purse authority, but to also build their community in fun and original ways. We’re thrilled to release the first video of the #LiveYourPassion series today, featuring the wonderful Co-Founder and COO of Purseblog, Vlad Dusil. Watch it below and remember to always #LiveYourPassion!

Written by Hanna Fritzinger

This Week in Tech: Rise of the Entrepreneur, Oliver Roup by Zac Johnson

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.

this week in tech

VigLink erases the barriers publishers have when independently joining affiliate networks. Traditionally, to join an affiliate network one had to…

  1. Know that it existed
  2. Sign up
  3. Find the one with the highest rate
  4. Take the chance of missing out on higher commissions with other networks

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.

Written by Hanna Fritzinger

 

This Week in Tech: VigLink & Purseblog on Authentic Conent

At Affiliate Summit East, Oliver Roup sat on a panel alongside Vlad Dusil of Purseblog. Oliver and Vlad both bring vast knowledge of the native advertising space, allowing them to speak on the subject from two different perspectives.

oliver and vlad

Vlad, co-founder of Purseblog & VigLink publisher, spoke about starting a blog and it’s evolution into a full-time business for both him and his wife Meaghan. In the beginning their sole focus was quality content creation, thus engaging readers and triggering world of mouth to spread. Google, of course, was able to help organically boost their blog and give it greater authority, however Vlad and Meaghan didn’t initially dedicate resources to advertising. This was a topic Oliver spoke to as well, adding that most successful publishers focus on authentic content and legitimate audience views.

One piece of advice Vlad stressed to the audience is the importance of observing the data in order to find out what’s working. Once you’ve figured out the best practices for your blog based on feedback, you can better predict the outcome of certain behaviors. He also gave two tips of advice for advertisers when they are contacting publishers hoping for a potential partnership:

  1. Always address the publisher by their first name
  2. Never send the same message to everyone whose email is listed on the site

The main takeaway from the talk based on Oliver’s insights as well as Vlad’s, is that quality content creation is of the utmost importance. In order for people to become loyal readers of your blog, and for advertisers to desire to work with you, authentic content is a must.

If you attended ASE and have a log-in, you can view the video of Oliver and Vlad here!

Written by Hanna Fritzinger

Publisher Showcase: Possessionista

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… 

Starting a blog

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!

possessionista

 

Her mission

The goal of Possessionista is to help people find the clothes they like from the shows they love.

The relationship with her readers & their feedback

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.

Her favorite part of Possessionista

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.

Looking to the future

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.

Commerce and Possessionista’s monetization strategy

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.

j crew promo

Showcasing certain brands & brand collaboration

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.

Written by Hanna Fritzinger

 

Here’s Why eCommerce Should And Can Account For 10% of Every Publisher’s Revenue

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.

E-Commerce

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

This Week In Tech: NewCo Comes to SF

With NewCo 2014 just days away we want to be sure you’re not missing out on the chance to visit some of the SF tech scene’s most innovative offices… for free! NewCo presents attendees with the opportunity to enter host companies’ spaces to network with employees and witness unique presentations by industry thought leaders. This conference sets itself apart as it seeks to provide audiences with the ability to choose which offices they attend and allows host companies to cater their talk specifically to those in attendance. Unlike other conferences, NewCo also keeps the numbers of attendees to a minimum prompting interactive talks that spur conversation.

newcosf

We are excited to join of the ranks of LinkedIn, Airbnb, Twitter and Yahoo who are also participating in this year’s NewCo. Oliver Roup will be presenting on the native advertising landscape, specifically why it’s effectiveness continues to grow during an age when the “old marketing supply chain” is becoming irrelevant. In order for publishers to be successful, their primary focus must be on creating quality content that remains uninterrupted by intrusive ads, something Oliver is very familiar with. Additionally, he will talk to audiences about the growing influence of mobile and how it will impact future advertising efforts.

If you’ve yet to sign up for NewCo, it’s not too late! However, space is limited and as you’ll see on the NewCo site, our event is almost full. Don’t miss out on this wonderful opportunity to mingle and learn at our SOMA offices this Friday at 1:30. We look forward to seeing you!

almostfull

 Written by Hanna Fritzinger

Publisher Showcase: Indulgy

Indulgy is one of our coveted publishers. Their mission is to be the creator of your perfect world. They do that through a pinboard site that presents users with the best possible images through a, “special algorithm that combines human subjectivity and technology certainty”. This is what sets them apart from their main competitor, Pinterest. Founder, Eugene Strokin, was kind enough to lend us his time and  provide us with a first-hand account of the ins and outs of Indulgy.

indulgy

How did you get into creating a pinboard site?

I was inspired to start the site three years ago when my wife was submitting pictures to a pinboard styled site called foodgawker.com. I noticed the massive amounts of traffic driven by this site and thought to myself, why just food? I went on to build a pinboard site where people could post and share pictures of anything they were passionate about and visualize their perfect world.

What is your mission, specifically what are you trying to accomplish?

I am trying to build a site where people can come and be visually inspired. This isn’t a site where people come to interact with one another; in fact people don’t have to talk to each other at all. People come here to look at beautiful pictures, and in that respect our site falls somewhere between Pinterest and Tumblr. We constantly work to find the best content and present it to our users.

What kind of connection do you have with your user and what’s some of the feedback you receive?

Although we don’t often communicate with our users directly on our site, we do receive a lot of feedback from them. We have two types of users, those who stop by the site consistently and those who come and go. Both of these groups provide us with different types of feedback and we aim to give them the best experience when they visit Indulgy.

What are you looking forward to in the future, how will your focus shift?

We are currently working hard to monetize our site, one we do that is through VigLink. Another option we are considering is the implementation of a shopping cart directly to our site. This is appealing to us because it gives us more control when the user stays on our site to make a purchase. Although we haven’t gotten that far, we know we will stay true to our native advertising roots. Since our primarily focus is aesthetics and quality content, we would never compromise that by having intrusive ads on our site.

What value do you deliver your customer by showcasing certain brands?

We only collaborate with the most elite brands that are visually pleasing to our audience. Again, since everything is visual on our site we don’t want to compromise that by working with brands that don’t uphold our standard. Once we have identified which brands are good partners for us we offer to showcase them on our site if they are willing to give us a commission increase. However, like I stated earlier we wouldn’t promote anything that isn’t relevant to our audience.

How does the shift to mobile consumption affect your strategy?

Over half of our traffic is mobile. That being said, we recognize the importance of optimizing our site for mobile and have done so accordingly.  Looking to the future we would like to design an app for our site but that takes resources that we haven’t quite yet acquired.  

 Written by Hanna Fritzinger