Content monetisation business, Skimlinks, has unveiled research that underscores the value of content sites in affiliate marketing and furthering e-commerce.

The research was conducted in partnership with multi-brand online retailer, Shop Direct.

The study found that content sites such as editorial and social websites consistently raise awareness of a brand or product, but rarely receive the financial reward for doing so due to the inadequacies of the last-click attribution model used in affiliate marketing. 

The study also revealed that content sites participating in affiliate marketing can drive high volumes of new customers to online retailers.

Below shows how Skimlinks-enabled content sites compare with SEO, retargeting ads and other purchase journey players for generating purchase intent and receiving the first, middle and last click.

Other key findings from the study found that content sites consistently drive product and brand awareness, sparking purchase intent in consumers:

Content sites were the first place users read about a product 27% of the time, and were in the first quarter of the user’s path to purchase 36% of the time. When a user started their journey to a purchase with a content site, she or he was a new customer 55% of the time.

It also found that the last click attribution model under-rewards content sites; as content sites were the last click only 6% of the time and 94% of the time, the content affiliate was not awarded the sale. 65% of the time when a content site is the first click in a purchase journey, sparking purchase intent, another channel is the last click, taking all the credit for the sale.

The study found that content sites present ‘tremendous value to advertisers:

Content sites drove nearly 30% more new customers to brand sites than the average of all other channels, when a user began the purchase journey by reading a content site.

When consumers started by reading a content site about a product, their desire to purchase grew with time: 9% of the sales occurred within one hour, 16% within 24 hours, 31% happened within three days.

CEO and co-founder of Skimlinks, Alicia Navarro, said: “Forward-thinking CMOs and marketers need to shift away from the last click attribution model in affiliate marketing if they want to reward publishers for creating valuable commerce-related content.

“The current model undervalues the power of original editorial content in sparking purchase intent in consumers. Content sites like blogs, forums and social commerce sites incentivise based on features, and those feature-based discussions are how real influence and awareness of brands is generated.”

Online marketing executive at Shop Direct, Ryan Jones, said retailers may find the prospect of paying on an alternative model to last click daunting, given the likelihood of an increase in marketing costs. But he stressed that what retailers must consider, though, is that they are probably missing out on exposure as commercially savvy content sites tend to promote the brands they earn more from.

“Those retailers that can reward content sites on a fully attributed view are therefore creating a USP for themselves in the eye of the publisher, which should lead to greater coverage,” Jones said.

“It is then up to the retailer to decide which attribution model and rate works best for them based on profitability and the way users engage with their brands.”