VigLink launches auto links to monetize content

Bambi Francisco Roizen · November 17, 2011 · Short URL:

In-content advertising platform hopes to generate more revenue for publishers

VigLink, which turns outbound links on published stories into monetization opportunities, has expanded on its service by automating the insertion of links on keywords that could become a revenue generator for publishers.

The new service, called "LinkWeaver," is expected to be announced Thursday morning. 

"It's a new approach to content monetization," said Oliver Roup, CEO and founder, in an interview with me. "Our product applies some deep semantic analysis to understand what the page is about." (Watch Roup give present before panelists on our recent Vator Box segment, with Alex Rosen of IDG as guest host.) 

VigLink will hyperlink keywords in the content and will direct the reader to a place where they can buy a product. So, if you're writing about the Apple iPhone or a book on Amazon, the word "iPhone," or the book title, would be automatically hyperlinked to Apple or Amazon, whereby a reader can buy a product. VigLink takes roughly 25% of the affiliate fee paid out by partners, Apple or Amazon, and the publisher gets the remainder. Typically, Amazon pays Viglink about 8.5% of products sold vs. 4.5% paid out to sites with low traffic.

This type of advertising sounds well and good, and incredibly tempting for publishers, who'd love to find non-intrusive ways to monetize their content. The question, however, is:  How relevant are those links to the reader? For instance, if you're reading about a mortgage crisis in the financial markets, the last website you want to be directed to is a place where you can get a zero-down-payment loan. 

This is a problem that some publishers have complained about with the Kontera service. Kontera a Sequoia Capital-backed firm with $30-plus million in venture financing, also provides in-text advertisements. One of the slight differences between VigLink, which has raised $6.5 million in financing, mainly from Google Ventures, is that Kontera's links typically create a pop-up ad while VigLink's links connect a reader to another website.  

“Kontera publishers are interested in maximizing revenue in expense of their readers," said Roup. "We look at the content and determine what's most appropriate to link to for the particular content." In other words, VigLink tries to ensure that advertisements are relevant, though it cannot guarantee that. 

To this end, VigLink, which currently hs signed on 5,000 publishers, has focused its sites on publisher sites where there's more product reviews. Publishers of automotive, home and garden, fashion and electronic news and reviews are typically where in-content advertisements work best, said Roup.

Roup would not disclose what the click-through-rates (CTRs) are for the links, though in an interview with Kontera some years ago, we were told that CTRs for in-text ads are between 12% and 20% (though that seems incredibly high and some people believe that's a "hover rate" or the times a person hovers over a keyword), compared to two-tenths of a percent for contextual ads around the text.

Roup also would not disclose the median check that VigLink sends to publishers, only to say that it's a wide range, with some publishers receiving fractions of a dollar to upwards of $50,000.   

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Bambi Francisco Roizen

Founder and CEO of Vator, a media and research firm for entrepreneurs and investors; Managing Director of Vator Health Fund; Co-Founder of Invent Health; Author and award-winning journalist.

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VigLink automatically affiliates existing links to merchants and advertisers, and creates new links by analyzing web page content for product and merchant references.  VigLink delivers a new revenue source to website publishers totally complementary to display ads and text advertising.


Oliver Roup

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