Skimlinks and Shop Direct Study Shows Content Publishers are Underpaid; Advertisers Missing Out On Big Opportunity

Study finds content sites spark strong purchase intent in consumers and are key drivers of new customers to retailer sites

Jul 25, 2013, 11:00 ET from Skimlinks

SAN FRANCISCO, July 25, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Today Skimlinks, the leader in content monetisation, unveiled research that underscores the value of content sites1 in affiliate marketing and furthering e-commerce. The research was conducted in partnership with Shop Direct, the UK's largest multi-brand online retailer.

The study2 found that content sites such as editorial and social websites consistently raise awareness of a brand or product, but rarely receive the financial reward for doing so because of the inadequacies of the Last Click attribution model used in affiliate marketing. The study also revealed that content sites participating in affiliate marketing can drive high volumes of new customers to online retailers.

For a graph that shows how Skimlinks-enabled content sites compare with SEO, retargeting ads and other purchase journey players for generating purchase intent and receiving the first, middle and last click, please click here.

The key findings from the study can be broken out as follows:

Content sites consistently drive product and brand awareness, sparking purchase intent in consumers:

  • Content sites were the first place users read about a product 27% of the time, and were in the first quarter of the user's path to purchase 36% of the time.
  • When a user started their journey to a purchase with a content site, she or he was a new customer 55% of the time.

The Last Click attribution model under-rewards content sites:

  • Content sites were the Last Click only 6% of the time.
  • 94 percent of the time, the content affiliate was NOT awarded the sale.
  • 65% of the time when a content site is the first click in a purchase journey, sparking purchase intent, another channel is the last click, taking all the credit for the sale.

Content sites present tremendous value to advertisers:

  • Content sites drove nearly 30% more new customers to brand sites than the average of all other channels when a user began the purchase journey by reading a content site.
  • When consumers started by reading a content site about a product, their desire to purchase grew with time: 9% of the sales occurred within one hour, 16% within 24 hours, 31% happened within 3 days.

"Forward-thinking CMOs and marketers need to shift away from the Last Click attribution model in affiliate marketing if they want to reward publishers for creating valuable commerce-related content," said Alicia Navarro, CEO and co-founder of Skimlinks. "The current model undervalues the power of original editorial content in sparking purchase intent in consumers. Content sites like blogs, forums and social commerce sites incentivise based on features, and those feature-based discussions are how real influence and awareness of brands is generated."

"Retailers may find the prospect of paying on an alternative model to last click daunting given the likelihood of an increase in marketing costs. What retailers must consider, though, is that they are probably missing out on exposure as commercially savvy content sites tend to promote the brands they earn more from," said Ryan Jones, Online Marketing Executive at Shop Direct. "Those retailers that can reward content sites on a fully attributed view are therefore creating a USP for themselves in the eye of the publisher, which should lead to greater coverage. It is then up to the retailer to decide which attribution model and rate works best for them based on profitability and the way users engage with their brands."

About Skimlinks
Founded in 2007, Skimlinks is the leading content monetization platform that rewards publishers for the role their content plays in creating purchase intent. Skimlinks processes 300 million clicks a month on over 140,000 sites around the web, including Conde Nast, Gawker, AOL Europe, WordPress, Hearst Digital, Haymarket Consumer Media, Telegraph Media Group, and many more. Skimlinks is a team of 55 with offices in London, San Francisco, and New York. Sign up to be a publisher here. Please see our new Japanese-language website:


About Shop Direct
Shop Direct is the UK's leading multi-brand digital retailer, with annual sales of around £1.7 billion. Shop Direct's digital department stores include, Littlewoods, isme and and receive a total of more than 800,000 website visits every day. Around 80% of the group's sales are now online, with over a third of those from mobile devices. We sell more than 800 brands, including leading fashion labels and our own brands, and deliver more than 25 million parcels each year to millions of active customers. For more information on Shop Direct, visit or @ShopDirectGroup.

1 Content sites in this study refer to news or editorial sites, blogs, forums, etc., via the Skimlinks publisher network.

2 Skimlinks analyzed data provided by Shop Direct's e-commerce site,, which spanned all orders between July and November 2012 that included a click from a Skimlinks content site.

SOURCE Skimlinks