San Francisco-based VigLink, a content monetization service for publishers, recently announced its partnership with Seattle-based GeoRiot, an international iTunes and App Store link optimization service. Founded in 2009 by Oliver Roup, and backed by Google Ventures, First Round Capital, and Emergence Capital, Viglink works with more than 30,000 advertisers and retailers to monetize links, offering bloggers, publishers, and media companies a way to monetize their content.
The partnership with GeoRiot means that publishers using VigLink’s service can increase the value of their iTunes referral links, and it means that publishers don’t have to apply to local affiliate programs and post a unique URL for every country’s App Store in order to monetize in those countries. Now once a link is posted, VigLink can reroute it to the respective user’s country-specific iTunes store and product to drive sales for Apple and affiliate revenue for publishers.
“What we’re trying to do is make the web better by making every link intelligent and valuable, and our thesis has been that links are the literal H in HTML, they’re what distinguish text from hypertext, but remarkably little innovation has gone into the link since the web was created,” Roup said in an interview. “This recent innovation is the first step towards asking why is a link the same for everybody when sometimes they don’t work. So a classic example is a reader in Mexico clicks on a link to [the U.S. iTunes store], most of the time it will tell them, ‘hey you can’t buy that, sorry’, basically what we’ve done in partnership with GeoRiot is fix that.”
With the new geo-optimization of links, content creators can continue to link to apps or media, and VigLink will look after international traffic and direct it to the appropriate country-specific App Store and product. The company reports that to date it has enabled a fivefold increase in international affiliate program commissions and increased commissions in U.S. affiliate programs by 55 percent for its users.
The industry average for margins in the affiliate marketing space usually stand at five percent of the total price of a good or service, with the exact rate varying depending on the industry and product. VigLink generates its revenue from making 25 percent and letting the publisher pocket the rest. “The publisher is driving all this business to a downstream merchant, and we feel they’re entitled to a share and we make it super easy for them. We then collect all that revenue and we’ve built the backend tracking to keep track of who made how much revenue,” Roup added. “Because we have such scale, we certainly get a lot more attention from merchants than publishers could get individually, and in many cases we get a better rate that erases or better than erases our fee. So we really try to cost the publisher as little as possible.”
The geo-optimization could give the company an edge over major competitors in the space the likes of German-based YieldKit and Isreal-based Kehalim. They all offer publishers a wide array of tools that make it easy to integrate their platform, ranging from being able to scan for and convert mere product references in content into revenue-generating links, to being able to monetize content on any platform, be it web, mobile, or tablet, allowing users of their services to focus on the core of creating content and leaving the affiliate marketing facet to them. UK-based Skimlinks has been offering geotargeting to its customers for the past 18 months though.
Recently, BetaKit also covered Referly’s platform, which lets users build their own storefronts to curate links to their favourite product and services, all of which seems to be moving towards the trend of enabling anyone creating and curating online content to be able to generate income for their efforts. Although VigLink’s geo-optimization is currently only available for App Store or iBookstore purchases, the company will be looking to provide the service for additional merchants down the road.
Update: Skimlinks founder Alicia Navarro got in touch to clarify that they’ve been offering geotargeting to customers for 18 months, the article has been updated to reflect that fact.