Following the news of Partnerize and Skimlinks enhanced integration to deliver e-commerce content and offers to publishers on the platform, we caught up with Dunia Silan, Skimlinks VP revenue for EMEA and APAC to discuss how the platform has successfully created powerful partnerships through "commerce content".
Before we get into the world of commerce content and how Skimlinks drives business for publishers, it would be great to hear about your path to your role there. Can you give us a quick overview of how you got to your current role?
Dunia Silan: I started in digital marketing 12 years ago, working directly with advertisers to help them increase their conversion rates. I was in charge of UK commercials at Ad.IQ Global before relocating to Australia in 2009 to open and run the company’s commercial operations for APAC. After we established a presence there, I started learning about affiliate marketing and soon later was approached by AffiliateTraction based in Santa Cruiz, who were later acquired by Pepperjam. I was responsible for establishing the platform’s presence in the region.
We started learning about multiple networks and publishers in the space, acting as an open OPM, one of those partners being Skimlinks. Fast forward a couple of years, I moved back to the UK and took the role of commercial director as I enjoyed how Skimlinks worked with publishers. I soon moved to VP of revenue in EMEA and APAC, focusing on growth and helping to commission Skimlinks in those two regions.
Can you tell us how Skimlinks fits into the affiliate marketing ecosystem? How do you work with Publishers and Merchants?
DS: Skimlinks is a commerce content monetisation platform that allows publishers to earn revenue from the content they write about when it generates a sale. When looking at the ecosystem, we start with the merchant/advertiser. If they want to run an affiliate program they would need to work with an affiliate network, which works with a wider range of publishers. Some are loyalty, cashback, tech publishers, and subnetworks. Skimlinks is set up as an editorial subnetwork. This means the merchant has access to the most premium content publishers - a total of 60,000 publishers globally.
Can you expand a bit on what you mean by a commerce content monetisation platform? And what are the various forms of commerce content you see on the platform?
DS: Skimlinks is the one-stop-commerce shop for premium editorial publishers. Through the platform, publishers can focus on making great content and with a single click, they can access up to 50,000 merchants across 60 networks globally. We essentially take care of all the heavy lifting in the background.
Commerce content is the type of content produced by commerce editors, focusing on brands and products that the editors and their readers enjoy reading and writing about, while also focusing on creating shopping inspirations. A publisher may have a commerce team or a dedicated commerce tool that they use in their articles that discuss shopping and various deals. They may also have commerce editors within the editorial team who are actively engaged in the affiliate process. In return, the publisher produces amazing content while accessing the commerce data, revenues and solutions, all within one platform. Publishers then digest this information to share internally with their editors and make key decisions on their commerce strategy moving forward.
The transparency of data is also crucial to all parties involved. The publishers use this for an editorial and commercial point of view to set targets and understand where their performance is coming from, whilst the networks plus merchants use data so they can optimise with and reward specific publishers effectively.
What does a Skimlinks program look like on a site? What are the executional elements of how you monetise content for publishers?
DS: Commerce content itself is presented in different formats. It could be deal-based content, comparison content or in the form of reviews, guides or user-generated content. The publishers can use our tools that enable them to straightway see the commission rates offered on a merchant's website and whether a brand has an affiliate program. We look out for links in the articles that publishers produce and turn them into affiliate links, hence monetising the content automatically.
You mentioned earlier the importance of data transparency -- what is unique about the level of data Skimlinks provides to publishers?
DS: The data is aggregated across 50,000 merchants and networks. It's normalised and presented in various formats within the one destination for our publisher partners. What's unique is the one-stop-shop a publisher implements with Skimlinks while having access to view any brand and all the different rates available as well access the data via Hub, API, or directly ingesting it. The idea here is to create a seamless integration process for the publisher with one click of a button so all the different departments can have access to the necessary data available.
What sort of advertisers are most interested in publisher-level transparency? Is this most relevant to the largest affiliate programs, or is it broader than that?
DS: Naturally, larger merchants who've been working across commerce programs will want richer insight and data to understand the best performing publishers and establish long-lasting relationships. As brands reach the stage of growth and become more familiar with the types of publishers on their program, the need for data transparency becomes more important.
Skimlinks has been working on huge transparency initiative with the networks and platforms. The latest example is the news in PI of Partnerize ingesting the Skimlinks data to start surfacing the data in return to their advertisers.
As our category evolves, more and more brands are trying to collaborate directly with their largest partners to deliver better results. How is your relationship with top brand advertisers changing?
DS: There's certainly more collaboration between advertisers and publishers as they want to create inspirational stories together, maximise yield, and build long-term strategic partnerships. We've been getting involved and encouraging this in various ways:
First, by facilitating introductions and meetings with top brands and publishers. Second, by arranging networking sessions inviting all parties involved in the affiliate ecosystem with networks, publishers and advertisers opening up to discuss challenges and optimisation tactics. Third, by moderating events and webinars and discussing specific topics that have a huge impact on ROI. Fourth: by getting involved with brands on multi-touch attribution where brands and publishers are rewarded for the shopping journeys they initiate. Lastly, getting advertisers and publishers to diversify and not put all their eggs in the traditional advertising basket.
You work with many types of sites and are particularly strong with content publishers. Many advertisers are looking to expand their presence in content sites. What advice do you have for brands about how to work best with content publishers?
DS: First of all, look at the data and understand who your top-performing publishers are. Next is offering the most exclusive rates and offers to publishers so that you can place yourself in the top 10% of your own vertical so the publishers can priorities you. Publishers love to create stories about new products ranges so feed product launches with as much advance notice as possible and give the rights to something exciting for them to work with. Trust the publishers with their content and strategy, they have editorial integrity, love the brands they write about and know what the readers want, so be flexible and trust what they're doing. Furthermore, give as much support as possible to an editorial piece and watch the conversion rates increase.
From a product standpoint, what’s coming up for brands and publishers from Skimlinks?
DS: There's been a lot of excitement and movement in the last few months which will add more value to publishers, networks and brands. From offering our editorial products to launching our first to market AMP script which allows publishers to automatically monetise articles while significantly increasing revenue from anywhere between 25%-100%. We also have our data transparency and flexible management product being integrated by networks. Finally, there's our APAC launch which encourages our existing larger publishers to launch into new markets and working with the largest local editorial publishers in new regions as well.
Lastly, what parting words of advice do you have for publishers looking for new ways to monetise content?
DS: Diversify from traditional media lines that might be declining and invest in commerce as a growth channel. For some publishers, it accounts for 25% of their overall revenue. Also, using Skimlinks is as simple as copying and pasting a script, and in return, you are accessing multiple brands to write about as well as using tools to answer key questions around how to formulate and ramp up a commerce strategy. Lastly, leverage multi-channel attribution and publish content across multiple devices and channels for maximum yield.