Affiliate Network Skimlinks Sets Up A “Data Co-op” With Publishers
Pooled data will be used for audience targeting, and publishers will share revenue.
Affiliate marketing network Skimlinks is adding “data provider” to its resume. And it’s getting publishers into the act.
Today, the UK-based company is announcing the launch of Audiences by Skimlinks, a programmatic targeting service for advertisers. It pools anonymous, aggregated data from all participating publishers, uses it for ad or other targeting, and then shares the revenue with the publishers in proportion to the data they provide.
Skimlinks claims that its entire network tracks clicking and conversion data for more than 1.3 billion unique users worldwide, for more than 55,000 digital publishers and in conjunction with about 20,000 merchants. The company says its network generated about $625 million worth of e-commerce last year.
Agencies or brands that want to target using these Audiences by Skimlinks segments can do so through such platforms as MediaMath, AppNexus, BlueKai, Lotame and Krux, with additional integrations in the works.
CEO and cofounder Alicia Navarro told me that this “data cooperative” is a way for publishers to add scale to their audience targeting as they face an environment dominated by Facebook and Google. In addition to scale, the data quality is likely to be high, since it’s all first-party data that publishers have acquired about their customers and visitors.
As an example, she envisioned that a user on Publisher A’s site could click on a link about a handbag in a story and be taken to a retailer’s site that sells handbags. If the user buys the handbag, there’s a page impression > click > conversion trail.
Even if there’s no purchase, there’s a pattern of behavior for that user when that action is added to other page impression > click > impression paths. That user can be targeted for, say, handbags on other publishers’ sites through the cookie that Skimlinks has dropped on her computer.
Here’s a Skimlinks schematic of what happens:
Each of about 200 product category segment will be divided into “wants to buy,” indicating interest but no immediate plan to buy, and “about to buy,” for users actively looking to make a purchase. These represent, Navarro noted, the top and bottom of the sales funnel.
She claimed that the results from her company’s internal tracking have been “almost unbelievable,” with conversion lifts as high as 50x, although the tracking was compared to a control group without any targeting.
Before this, Skimlinks’ bread and butter was automatically turning a publisher’s links to merchants in their network into affiliated links that generate commissions for that publisher on a product sale or a lead referral. Skimlinks notes that the clicks generated from referrals from content are likely to indicate interest, since they live in content the user has sought out.
Navarro said that Skimlinks’ advantage as a data provider is not only the quality and reach of the data, but also the ability to target actual user data that is not inferred from matching with other information.
She also emphasized the quality of the publishers, including Time Inc., Gawker Media, Condé Nast, Hearst Digital and the Huffington Post. An advertiser, however, will not be able to single out one publisher’s data, only aggregated user segments across the platform.
The number of publishers who have signed up has not yet been revealed, although Navarro characterized the response as “phenomenally positive.”