Last week we started a new series of articles on how ad-funded publishers can adapt through the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, we looked at changes in advertising trends. In today’s second instalment, we’re going to focus on affiliate partners.

Affiliate deals can be a valuable component in a mix of revenue drivers, and in trying times such as these where elements of that mix have taken a hit, publishers would do well to look into their options.

Most of us may be stuck indoors, but some areas of e-commerce are thriving. E-commerce rose by 25% between March 1st and 15th according to Bloomberg, who also found that average daily online grocery sales doubled and at-home fitness gear like dumbbells, stationary bikes and treadmills saw a 55% boost in sales over the same period.

Clearly then, small-to-medium publishers would do well to begin investigating the feasibility of affiliate partnerships. You’ll find no better starting point than Knoji, who offer a one-click solution for finding brands that offer affiliate partnerships.

Affiliate networks act as intermediaries between publishers and merchants. Affiliate networks allow publishers to easily find and participate in affiliate programmes which are suitable for their brand and audience, then manage and monitor them once they begin.

Below, we’ve listed our favourite affiliate networks, and explained why they’re so effective.

Affiliate networks for digital publishers

Skimlinks

Once approved by Skimlinks, publishers are approved for affiliate partnership with all merchants. Skimlinks is used by many top-tier publishers including BuzzFeed, and contains a healthy number of UK brands as well as US. Publishers should be aware that Skimlinks takes 25% of all commissions, and publishers have reported that the scripts they use can cause performance problems, slowing pages when visitors arrive.

AWIN

AWIN is one of the largest affiliate networks out there, working with over 230,000 publishers. In 2019, it generated 147M sales, which averages at 640 sales per publisher. Because publishers and merchants are encouraged to undertake a heavy vetting process before deciding on partnerships, the affiliate partnerships that do get established with AWIN are routinely of a high value. AWIN pays out twice a month.

SOVRN

SOVRN (formerly Viglink) automatically converts links on a publisher’s site into affiliate links; it selects the advertiser that pays the highest commission and ensures that they are linked to. It’s affiliate partners are some of the biggest retailers in the world, including Amazon. Publishers should note that it can take a little while to get started with SOVRN. Unlike Skimlinks, publishers must be approved by each merchant individually. SOVRN takes a commission of 25%.

Amazon Affiliate Program

Amazon’s affiliate marketing program is, to many, the industry standard, and a benchmark to which competitors are compared. Without doubt, it’s the largest out there. But, publishers must consider that because most products sold on Amazon are physical goods, they’ll have fewer options to refer sales that generate a recurring monthly income during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Impact

While aimed at merchants rather than publishers, Impact can set up custom affiliate link tracking for publishers and is a simple, intuitive way for publishers to manage and monitor their affiliate partnerships. We recommend requesting a demo, as BuzzFeed, Times, Forbes and more A-list publishers generate portions of their income with Impact.

Trackonomics

Trackonomics is a simple, intuitive affiliate marketing platform. It offers some interesting unique selling points, like the consolidation of all data into one dashboard to save reporting time, alerts for expired links, and ‘click-to-sale attribution’, which reveals how individual pieces of content perform. Trackonomics lists BuzzFeed and Condé Nast as publishers, and the likes of Uber and ASOS as merchants.

As tough as COVID-19 will be on publishing, we hope this will prove to be no more than a bump in the road. Affiliate partnerships are a neat, unobtrusive way for publishers to drive the highest revenues they can in this trying time, and they come with the added benefit of being beneficial to merchants and brands. With both parties doing their best to establish successful affiliate partnerships, the potential for revenue here is high.

Our new blog post series aims to guide publishers through an intimidating immediate future. We hope this post was useful.

Click here for the next instalment in our article series aimed at helping publishers monetise through the COVID-19 crisis: Digital Editions