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As the world’s largest commerce content monetization platform, Skimlinks helps publishers diversify beyond advertising and activate content as a revenue stream — contributing as much as 25% of their overall revenue. In turn, all kinds of merchants gain access to quality content as a means to reach new audiences and drive traffic and conversions. 

Impact’s APAC Partner Development Manager, Nick Pringle, dialed in with Camilla Pacelli, Director of Partner Development APAC, and Devi Soetardjo, Merchant Account Manager APAC, to find out more about Skimlinks’ approach to Commerce Content and partnerships.

Nick: For people who are unfamiliar with Skimlinks, tell us about the company and how you help publishers and merchants. What role do you play in the Partnership Economy? 

Camilla: Skimlinks is the world’s largest commerce content monetization platform, working with more than 60,000 publishers and 48,500 merchants globally. Our primary work enables publishers to automatically monetize the merchant links in their commerce content. Publishers leading the way with commerce content make a quarter of their total revenue from it. We generate over US$2.5 million in sales every day through our platform.

Nick: Skimlinks has had a strong commitment to empowering women since it was co-founded by Alicia Navarro. Can you tell us a bit about your plans for International Women’s Day and what it means for brands and publishers? 

Camilla: We are incredibly proud to be a female-founded company and delighted that our expansion and growth across APAC has been led by a team of women.

We’ve just launched a new filter in our merchant search that highlights brands that are female founded, making it easier for publishers to discover and support these fantastic businesses.

Nick: You tripled the size of your publisher network in APAC last year. What motivated that growth and what some trends you are seeing in that market?

Camilla: We did. Over the past 12 months, we’ve seen a mix of publishers across APAC really lean into commerce content. The pandemic has really accelerated the growth of ecommerce across the region. Consumers want trusted reviews and recommendations of products to purchase online. The editorial publishers we work with are uniquely positioned to make these recommendations to their readers.

Nick: Why should publishers work with Skimlinks? Why should brands work with Skimlinks?

Camilla: Skimlinks is a one-stop shop for publishers. We provide them the ability to access 48,500 merchants through one platform, one contract and one piece of code. We make it incredibly easy for them to monetize their content.

Twelve years in the market has taught us what works for publishers and brands alike, with the insights contained within our platform placing Skimlinks in a unique position to really help drive revenue and sales for publishers and brands. We have account managers based in APAC, EMEA, and the United States who really understand their local markets. They provide insights both on a local and global level to develop the best possible commerce content strategy.

For brands, we provide exposure to 60,000 publishers globally, including some of the world’s leading media organizations. They not only have a presence in our platform but we provide them opportunities to further increase their exposure and drive more sales.

Nick: Other than setting competitive commissions, what advice do you have for brands who want to get the most from their Commerce Content partnerships? Are there any mistakes you commonly see?

Devi: There are a number of things brands can do to make the most of their commerce content partnerships. The main one is to provide publishers with a reason to write about them. There are several ways to do this:

  1. Do your research and tell the story of why readers are going to love your brand and purchase your products.
  2. Provide publishers with an incentive to feature you. For example, provide them with an exclusive offer code for their readers or with free shipping.
  3. Share their marketing calendar. Publishers produce content up to three months in advance of key shopping events. Provide them with all the information they need such as start and end dates of sales, products being discounted, popular products. Make the editor’s job easy.
  4. Work with Skimlinks to provide exclusive commission rates and flat fee deals to specific publishers.

Nick: What advice would you give publishers looking to get started in Commerce Content? How can they best grow that into a significant revenue stream?

Camilla: We recommend all publishers follow the five pillars of commerce content to grow a significant revenue stream.

  1. Content creation: First look at what existing content and merchants your audience engages with. Create more content that is similar to that. Ensure all new and existing articles contain links to the merchants so that readers can easily purchase the product or service that has been written about.
  2. Content distribution: The more eyeballs you have on an article, the greater the chance of generating revenue. We suggest that publishers use all channels to promote their commerce content, from newsletters to social media to syndication. Publishers who make the most revenue from commerce content take distribution seriously, this includes creating dedicated deals and shopping event newsletters.
  3. Link monetization at scale: This is where the Skimlinks technology really kicks in. The one piece of code that’s installed will automatically monetize merchant links within commerce content articles. Our technology will monetize both new and existing articles, allowing publishers to focus on what matters most, creating compelling revenue generating content.
  4. Merchant relationships: Our team of account managers works closely with merchants on behalf of publishers and 41% of the commissions earned by Skimlinks publishers come directly from the higher rates we negotiate on their behalf. We also add over 1,000 new merchants to the Skimlinks platform each month, allowing publishers to discover new products and services to write about. 
  5. Getting the best yield:  Publishers can enable Skimlinks Dynamic Link Optimization to ensure they never miss a revenue opportunity. We can automatically optimize 404, out of stock or inactive merchant links.

Nick: What’s new out there? Are there some innovative types of Commerce Content partnerships or strategies you can tell us about?

Camilla: It’s been exciting to watch how commerce content has developed over the past year and the different approaches publishers are taking. What we do know is that when publishers make commerce content a priority and invest in it, they see significant returns. Publishers have been speaking to us about the type of merchants they want to feature more of. So we’ve added new filters into our merchant search that allow publishers to find merchants that have programs that give back to the community, those that are BIPOC owned (Black, indigenous, people of colour), and those that are female founded.

Nick: How does Impact technology fit into your business model and your partnerships with publishers and merchants?

Devi: Transparency is key for us and we’re thrilled that merchants can view our performance data in the Impact platform. It allows them to see which publishers and domains are performing really well for them. This is an initiative that has really strengthened the relationship between Skimlinks and Impact. 

Nick: We saw advertising budgets and publisher revenue plummet during the pandemic. How did that affect your business in APAC and elsewhere? Did you see publishers leaning more on Commerce Content as an alternative source of revenue?

Camilla: We’ve seen incredibly strong growth, globally, of revenue from commerce content during the pandemic. With people having to stay at home, they turned to publishers as trusted sources for product recommendations for their online shopping. We saw a big spike over the last year in sales of everything from home office equipment to beauty products to health and fitness to DIY. Publishers who really understood the needs of their audience and were able to produce commerce content to capitalize on the market trends saw the greatest uplift in revenue.

Nick: In the United States at least, political division and controversy made merchants especially cautious about their advertising relationships in 2020. Did that affect your approach at all in APAC, or how you vet quality publishers for your network? 

Devi: We’ve always had a stringent approach to vetting publishers. We have a team of network quality experts who manually approve every publisher on our platform. Of the 3,250 publishers who apply to join Skimlinks each quarter, only 20% are approved.

Nick: What’s next in Commerce Content? Any big trends in the channel for 2021?

Camilla: I touched on it earlier but consumers have flocked to brands where their purchasing power can make a difference. That can mean BIPOC-owned businesses, which saw support increase 7,000% year-on-year, or sustainable and eco-friendly businesses. Almost half of consumers now consider whether shipping or packing is eco-friendly before making a purchase, while 64% have been inspired to live more sustainably by the pandemic.

Nick: Finally, I just have to ask: what exactly is the Meghan Markle effect?

Devi: Glad you asked! Meghan Markle, like Kate Middleton and other well-known people, has the ability to sell out a product as soon as she’s seen wearing it or associated with it. A lot of the publishers we work with have seen big revenue spikes when they feature these products or brands in their commerce content.

Nick: Thanks so much for sharing all these great insights, Camilla and Devi — and for being a great Impact partner! 

If you want to work with great partners like Skimlinks, reach out to a growth technologist at grow@impact.com

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