[dropcap]S[/dropcap]kimlinks is the leader when it comes to auto-linking merchant sites via affiliate links. Based out of London, they have relationships with nearly 18,000 merchants on 33 different networks (as of April, 2012).
SkimWords will change product and merchant names into affiliate links, especially on sites with consumer electronics & technology, fashion & beauty, automotive, mothering and lifestyle content. A new feature of SkimWords is a flyover for product & price comparison. This will show the user options on where to buy an iPad, for example, along with pricing information.
Skimlinks also provides
- Search Widgets
- A URL Shortener
- Link API
- Product API
The URL Shortener is nice because you can get a URL to use in your own redirect script. As a programmer, I’m always a fan when I can use an API, instead of off-the-shelf solutions, which typically cover more than I want, but not everything I need.
Skimlinks will show you revenue by day, merchant, or site. While the Daily Report shows revenue for a timespan by day, the Merchant Report breaks this down by merchant. You can choose the timespan yourself.
Skimlinks pays via PayPal, check or Direct Deposit 60 days after a period closes. So, for earnings in July, you’d be paid at the end of October. They claim that because of their volume and merchant relationships that they can actually get you higher payouts than if you worked with the merchant directly. For a merchant I was using them for, I was seeing a $1.984 EPC, earning $16.41 per sale (compare this to VigLink below).
I haven’t had to use SkimLinks support myself, but they have a full Knowledge Base online, full of FAQ.[line]
[dropcap]V[/dropcap]igLink allows you to change merchant links into affiliate links (VigLink Affiliation), and/or automatically insert links around certain text (LinkWeaver). Headquartered in San Francisco, they’re a bit newer to the game than SkimLinks, but are a service worth checking out.
Turning on VigLink Affiliation will change links to merchant sites (ex: ebay.com) into affiliate links. In addition, you can opt to have affiliate links overwritten by VigLink, thereby consolidating all of your commissions under one roof.
Using VigLink‘s LinkWeaver, you can choose to omit certain blocks of text from having links inserted into them, choose to have links open in a new window, change the link color and more. You cannot, however, define your own keyword:link relationships.
One major thing missing from VigLink‘s reporting is the ability to choose your own date range. The VigLink Dashboard shows you a calendar with revenue by day. Clicking on a week further breaks that down, and then shows number of merchants, links, and clicks for the week. You cannot see daily details, however.
VigLink also pays net-60 (revenue you accrue in May will be paid at the end of July) and commissions are sent via PayPal. When compared to SkimLinks, VigLink was reporting a $2.34 EPC, and $16.97 per sale for the same merchant that I mentioned above (slightly better payout).
Skimlinks vs. VigLink: Summary
If you just want a solution for turning your links (and certain keywords) into affiliate links, either solution will do. But if you want some advanced options and shopping tools, look towards Skimlinks.