Interview with VigLink CEO, Oliver Roup


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  1. Carrie from Denver Bargains says:

    I’ve used VigLink in the past, though I don’t anymore – mostly because I wanted to increase site speed time and the number of merchants that I do’t actively affiliate on my own is very small.

    I primarily liked VigLink because it did pay me on Amazon sales – as with other states, Colorado businesses can’t be Amazon affiliates, either. However, the number was very small, and really not worth it to me. In December 2010 using VigLink, I made about 25% of what I earned from Amazon in December 2009 – and traffic increased over 100% from December 2009 to December 2010.

    I’m not sure what cut they take from Amazon, though it seems that it would have to be more than 25%. OR, it’s also possible that Amazon has docked them to their lowest commission level, whereas I was making a higher commission level through Amazon directly.

    I like the idea, and think it makes sense for some publishers – just not for me right now.

  2. Ben Steed says:

    It seems to me lik VigLink and Skimlinks basically provide the same service for publishers.
    If not does anyone care to articulate the differences?

  3. Deborah Carney says:

    The problem I have and always have had with VigLinks is that they are specifically telling affiliates that they can get around the tax nexus laws which can very likely put affiliates and merchants in legal danger for tax evasion. Other comments I have about VigLinks and some of their actions and policies I will keep to myself for now. The tax issue and the issue of VigLinks allowing affiliates to “get around” being declined by merchants is huge.

    The other thing that bothers me is they aren’t saying what they really are, they are claiming to be an affiliate “tool” when in fact they are a sub-affiliate network.

  4. Rae Hoffman-Dolan says:

    Ben – no idea as I have never heard of Skimlinks (that said, I’d never heard of VigLink until a few days ago either.)

    Deb – He addressed the tax issue, but I found it a bit vague as well. As for the affiliate tool vs affiliate network, I think that has more to do with their target market. Their aiming for people who barely understand affiliate programs, so they say affiliate tool, because “sub affiliate network” would be greek. Those of us that are pros know they’re a sub affiliate network without being told. Kind of the same way we say duplicate content can cause a “penalty” – that’s not actually true – but it can result in the same effect for a site owner and they understand “penalty” more than “filtering.”

  5. Richard Kershaw says:

    The difference between Viglinks & Skimlinks? Skimlinks built the original tool doing this here in the UK, VigLinks is US-based w/ Google as an investor.

  6. Excellent interview Rae!

    I really liked the questions you asked, this can be an interesting monetization option for me, so thank you for bringing this platform to my attention.

  7. Rae Hoffman-Dolan says:

    Did some Googling Richard and saw your friendly with the guy behind Skimlinks. Without tone, it’s hard to tell the sentiment of the above comment. So I’ll reiterate that I never heard of Skimlinks to know “it’s the original” and had never heard of VigLink before a few days ago either. While I’m a career affiliate, I admit to being more involved in the “SEO sector” which apparently neither of these companies managed to really break into word of mouth wise. Additionally, that still doesn’t seem to go over the difference (or lack thereof) between them. If someone asks the difference between Google and Bing, you don’t say “Google was the original search engine. Bing copied what they do.”

    A more educational and effective response would have been that Skimlinks says they can geo-target links. Or that they advertise a forum specific solution. Or that Skimlinks also links words vs. only changing links (I wouldn’t find that appealing, but I’m sure many others would.) Skimlinks, like VigLink, looks like an interesting service. However, their press campaign didn’t put them in front of me, VigLink’s did.

    If Skimlinks would ever like to have a published conversation about their service, by all means. I’ve got no attachment to either company – my interest was in the service itself, which I’d never seen or heard of before from ANY company.

  8. Richard Kershaw says:

    @Rae – Apologies, commented without due care & attention. Wasn’t intend to sound snarky, rather a one sentence summary.

    I don’t have any interest in SkimLinks’ success (unless some little use as a publisher counts), but I know some of the team and have championed the tool from day one for one very simple reason: I think it’s an awesome product with an awesome team behind it.

    SkimLinks have been around for a few years, are an all-too-rare UK startup success story and are backed by heavyweight investors:

    VigLinks launched some time later offering what appears (not used it) to be an identical service: it turns regular links into affiliate links in exchange for a cut of your earnings.

    Hence my comment. VigLinks are the late entrant to the market but – crucially – are backed by Google, who obviously have enormous capacity to make it a success.

    Hopefully explains what I was trying to say with a little more clarity.

  9. Anna Cunningham says:

    For Carrie w/ Denver Bargains: Anna here with VigLink — If you saw a drop in Amazon revenue on the back of increased traffic, it sounds like something was wrong. We’re at one of the higher commission levels with Amazon (8.5%) so depending on what bracket you’re in you should be seeing equitable numbers or better using VigLink.

    If you’d send me your user id, I’d love to look into it. Obviously it would be tough to diagnose without the code on your site, and if you’ve moved on, I understand but I’d love the chance to try and fix things for you.

    Anna Cunningham

  10. Jack Bafia says:

    I’m not sure it’s super relevant who came first, but as far as we know, Driving Revenue, the company I founded with Raymond Lyle in August 2008 in Chicago was actually doing this first. Driving Revenue was acquired in August 2010 by VigLink.

  11. Deborah Carney says:

    Within a network the differentiation between a tool and a subaffiliate network is important, you and I see the difference but the less educated AMs and even OPMs might not look and see what exactly VigLinks is doing. They are not allowed in one network that I know of, but SkimLinks is. I think the differences are in the marketing and the fact that VigLinks makes it clear that affiliates can get around being rejected by a merchant or can avoid being a nexus for a company. To me that tells a lot about the company.

    As a merchant/manager/OPM I can go through the affiliates that are in VigLinks, but that adds a second layer of filtering that I don’t want to go through. My merchants are in the networks they are in so that we control the affiliates that promote our brands. That control is lost in VigLinks or SkimLinks, but not in services like PopShops or GoldenCan. If VigLinks gave control to the merchants to approve affiliates instead of blanket approving anyone that wants to run any program they want, they would get more support from the merchant community.

  12. I generally have a look into any post you make that I’m not already aware of or using, so i signed up to viglink not really knowing what to expect and whacked it on one of my sites.

    Then i played around with a bunch of posts and took a closer look at the viglink site for support to see what i can and can’t tap into. I have to say, the VigLink website is so ridiculously bare of any kind of information I’m left wondering WTF I can actually promote apart from the obvious.

    Since I’m already an affiliate with ‘the obvious’ I can’t see any reason to use VIglink at all.

    So Viglink, if you’re reading this – the ONE reason I would consider you as an affiliate link provider is if you’ve done the hard work already and negotiated terms for many affiliates that I may or may not know about, then allow me to find that on your web site (if it is there, it isn’t intuitively found) and perhaps I’ll see value to use your service as I can add additional monitization options that I’m not currently using – this would would increase my reach and offer potentially greater revenue.

  13. Deborah Carney says:

    Rae, I should have said that if Viglinks only allowed linking to affiliates approved in the networks/merchants instead of separately, that would truly make them a useful tool instead of a sub affiliate network.

  14. Suthnautr says:

    Interesting. First thing I thought was “another middle man” (gee, I thought the Affiliate was the middle man!?) …then realized, yeah, a guy like me without anything going on in the affiliate arena without a lot of time or any programming skills *could* certainly benefit from this. Realizing that there’s often a higher affiliate rate (due to size of banded together smaller affiliates through VigLink as the master affiliate) – so ok, they take a cut, but it’s a cut of a larger pie and likely worth it. Definitely a plus not having to deal with setting up a whole lot of affiliates on my own on a site that needs major content development, so focusing on content alone would then make VigLink sort of like a virtual assistant setting up affiliate links while I (or others I have working) build content.

    Ok, so what does that mean to me then if I start making a ton of money a year or two after my site starts rocking and I want to cut VigLink loose – all my affiliate links disappear. But VigLink makes it clear that I can have standard Affiliate links on the same page anyway, so I can prepare to cut VigLink if I want to by creating true (my own) affiliate links to replace the ones automatically showing up. My quest would be to find out first which ones of those VigLink auto-created links were the biggest earners and then manually replace them first, and going down the line replace them all in decreasing value.

    VigLink COULD be used the way SEOs use PPC on new sites – to test which keywords produce the highest click through rates and then focus on those first, quickly removing the PPC marketing.

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