Skimlinks adds ‘intelligent’ links that auto-update, check stock

Skimlinks content monetization platform adds ‘intelligent’ links that auto-update, check stock

Ben Woods   |   April 9, 2014   |  view article

imlinks, the service that lets publishers monetize content by placing affiliate links to products on a page, has revealed an update that the company says will do away with “decades-old static hyperlinks” and improve conversion rates.

Announced today, the Skimlinks Editor now has a number of new features designed to give users more control over their links. For example, editors can create automatically updating links to products with real-time pricing and stock information, and provide links for up to two alternative merchants too. Links will also now reflect a user’s location and preferences, the company said.

Skimlinks Editor 730x497 Skimlinks content monetization platform adds intelligent links that auto update, check stock

The updated Skimlinks Editor capabilities also bring more control over SkimWords (the system used to automatically find relevant product references on a page and turn them into links) — namely the ability to easily toggle them on and off, and the option to edit the link destination. Users can also now add new links themselves with their own suggested products.

The update follows the launch of a Skimlinks Chrome extension in November last year, which allows users to see referral rates for retailers at a glance.

The success of an ad platform such as Skimlinks rests on a balancing unobtrusive browsing (or visitors to any site using the service) with control for editors and content managers — and of course, worthwhile revenues. In 2013, Skimlinks said it powered $500 million worth of online sales, and is aiming to double that in 2014 by topping the $1 billion barrier. Clearly, today’s update is part of that plan to draw in new users.

➤ Skimlinks

 

Skimlinks Says Its Affiliate Linking Technology Drove $500M+ In E-Commerce Sales Last Year

Anthony Ha   |   January 19, 2014   |  view article

Skimlinks, a company that helps online publishers make money through affiliate links, says that it had a record year, driving more than $500 million in e-commerce sales.

A spokesperson told me that three quarters of Skimlinks sales go through affiliate networks that report e-commerce sales value, and they reported $402.3 million in sales driven by Skimlinks in 2013. However, since there are other networks that don’t report sales value, the company is estimating that it drove more than $500 million total for the year (more specifically, based on historical analysis, the company says the number was probably between $502 million and $536 million). That’s about double the sales from last year.

Skimlinks’ technology includes the ability to convert regular links and relevant words into affiliate links (in other words, links where the publisher is paid a commission for driving purchases). Recent additions include last fall’s launch of Skimlinks Editor, a browser plugin that allows publishers to compare the current affiliate commission rates across different merchants.

In a conversation with CEO Alicia Navarro before the launch, and in follow-up emails with a company spokesperson, Skimlinks emphasized that the Editor product is the first step toward “intelligent linking,” i.e., links that are automatically updated and don’t require any work from the writer, editor, or publisher: “They won’t have to find products or list prices; and readers won’t be faced with dead links or redirects or outdated pricing.”

Navarro acknowledged that providing monetization data may be seen as a risk to editorial integrity, and she noted that in some cases, publishers have chosen to hide the actual commission rates from editors. At the same time, she said, “There’s a very strong feel that publishers are realizing that if they keep doing what they’re doing, they’re going to become obsolete. … [and] that it’s not a dirty word, making money from something.”

Navarro added that that 2014 will involve building a lot more of that intelligent linking infrastructure.

One thing that doesn’t seem to be a big priority is mobile. While that seems to be where a lot of publishers and startups are putting their energy nowadays, Navarro said that when it comes to actually making purchases, there doesn’t seem to be much traffic from mobile, “So I don’t think we’re missing out on too much yet.”

Skimlinks Editor is a simple Chrome extension for quickly viewing online retailers’ referral rates

Ben Woods   |   November 22, 2013   |   view article

Online monetization company Skimlinks has launched a new Chrome Web browser extension called Skimlinks Editor that makes it easy for website owners to see which partners throughout its network will pay the best commissions.

Launched today, the Skimlinks Editor tool simply needs to be installed in Chrome and then accessed via the toolbar. Clicking it will pop up a little sidebar (shown below) indicating the level of referral a user will get for linking to a specific site.

The system, which is primarily aimed at publishers and blogs already using the Skimlinks product, also integrates a real-time price comparison element too, so when they are shared on-site by editors, the site visitor will be able to compare prices from different merchants.

➤ Skimlinks Editor [Chrome Web Store]

Featured Image Credit – Thinkstock

Skimlinks Unveils World’s First At-A-Glance Content Monetization Tool for Digital Publishers

Skimlinks Editor Displays Critical Content Marketing Information Directly Inside Google Chrome, Enabling Faster Decision-Making and Increased Affiliate Revenue

LONDON and SAN FRANCISCO — November 22, 2013 — Skimlinks, the leading content monetization platform for digital publishers, today unveiled Skimlinks Editor, a new web tool that helps publishers maximize revenues by providing them with an effortless way to view—at a glance—all the information they need to make informed decisions on how they monetize their content.

Skimlinks Editor, available at no cost on the Google Chrome Web Store, is the ideal web companion for editors as they create content. With Skimlinks Editor, editors are automatically notified of monetization opportunities and are empowered to instantly compare commission rates across merchants to ensure that they are maximizing affiliate revenue. At the same time, real-time price comparison technology enables editors to direct readers to merchants with the most competitive pricing.

“As digital commerce continues to explode around the world, we’re working to make the interaction between digital content and commerce seamless, transparent, and valuable for both readers and publishers,” said Alicia Navarro, CEO of Skimlinks. “Skimlinks Editor is the next logical step in this progression, enabling an effortless experience for editors to determine the merchants that provide the most value to them and their readers.”

“We’re continually impressed by the ways in which Skimlinks seeks to better service publishers at the moment of content creation,” said Erin Pettigrew, vice president for leading digital publisher Gawker Media. “Skimlinks’ new Editor tool is another innovation in that direction. The Editor allows us to monitor retailer relationships and manage linking while we’re creating content rather than requiring us to move out of our workflow. Basically, it’s bringing the tools to the customer rather than requiring the customer to go to the tools. Great direction.”

Skimlinks Editor features and functionality:

  • Monetization opportunity notifications — As editors browse merchant websites, the unobtrusive Skimlinks Editor Chrome extension will change color from gray to blue, indicating a Skimlinks partnership that can generate revenue.

  • Commissions at a glance – With a single click, editors can view referral fees for merchant websites in the Skimlinks network. If a merchant is a “Skimlinks Preferred Partner”, the Editor will highlight their increased commission rates.

  • Real-time price monitoring – As editors create affiliate links, they can use Skimlinks Editor’s real-time price comparison technology to offer readers the best value on items across popular merchants.

  • Link shortening and social sharing – With Skimlinks Editor, editors can effortlessly create shortened affiliate links and email or share them across social media networks.

“With Skimlinks Editor, I’m able to see whether a merchant is partnered with Skimlinks—and what my commission will be—without needing to log in to the main Skimlinks dashboard and manually search,” said Paul Cunliffe, affiliate manager at Future Publishing. “Being able to shorten links from directly within Skimlinks Editor is a huge time saver; we create content on our iPad editions and we need to use the shortened links and place them into the copy before going to press. This tool is incredibly useful for short-cutting that process, and because it’s a browser extension, it’s easy to get my editorial team to download and use it instead of the full dashboard.”

“Skimlinks Editor is very, very cool,” said Dianna Baros of The Budget Babe. “I love that all of the critical monetization details are available at a glance; I no longer need to log in to see what my commission will be or whether a merchant is part of the Skimlinks network. Skimlinks simply works its magic on any qualifying link.”

 

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 Condé Nast, Gawker, AOL Europe, WordPress, Hearst Digital, Haymarket Consumer Media, Telegraph Media Group, and many more. Skimlinks is a team of 65 with offices in London, San Francisco, and Tokyo. Learn more at www.skimlinks.com.

Media Contacts:

UK:

Alice Chauvel

+44 (0)20 3397 1240

alice@skimlinks.com

US:

Aaron Endre

510-701-1902

aaron.endre@skimlinks.com

Creativity and technology: Publisher innovation is the key to unlocking untapped opportunities in performance marketing

Katie McQuater   |   November 22, 2013   |   view article

In affiliate marketing, advertisers naturally focus on big numbers, which more often than not come from big publishers. But there are other, more imaginative publishers out there recognising the value in innovative new propositions, as Katie McQuater reports.

Performance marketing is an industry founded on innovation, and new affiliate models have always been at the forefront of the continued evolution of digital marketing.

The desire to innovate has led to the creation of mutually beneficial approaches that bring value to advertisers and publishers alike, and it isn’t slowing down. As we approach 2014, advances in technology and creative ways of thinking are creating new and lucrative means for advertisers to increase their return from performance-based channels.

The advent of cashback affiliate sites brought an innovative approach to an existing model by incentivising consumers, while voucher codes affiliates brought incremental value to advertisers – but outwith the big affiliates, smaller publishers today are now using different approaches to create valuable experiences for their visitors, while untapped areas such as video affiliate are seeing greater investment from advertisers looking to capitalise on new opportunities in the space.

The Beans Group, the company behind affiliate publisher StudentBeans.com, created an online version of the traditional freshers’ fair in 2012. The site was built with the insight that to reach 100,000 students, a brand would need to have a presence at 35 offline fairs and spend approximately £70,000. In comparison with offline freshers’ events, the website offered measurable ROI for brand partners and allowed students to focus their interest only on the offers, deals and content that was most relevant to them.

In its second year, the campaign has seen 200,000 conversions (visitors clicking an offer or entering a competition), with involvement from over 100 brands.

“Creativity played a big part in the success of the campaign,” says Simon Eder, commercial director at The Beans Group. “When we first ran this campaign in 2012 it had never been done before.”

Content was also important in this year’s approach, adds Eder, with advertisers able to get involved in branded content created to fit their objectives in the tone of a typical StudentBeans.com article.

Eder says that the biggest challenge for publishers trying to innovate is standing out from the voucher and cashback affiliates.

“The market hasn’t changed in a long time, it’s just consolidated itself around the major players. The challenge is how do affiliates stand out from the crowd and break the cartel of these ‘affiliate super brands’. It comes from adding value, which in turn only comes from innovation.”

Mutually beneficial technology
Technology, the foundation of performance marketing, continues to drive the industry’s growth in new ways. Automated link-tagging tools such as Skimlinks and Google-backed VigLink allow publishers to monetise their existing content by changing words or product references into affiliate links.

According to Alicia Navarro, CEO and co-founder of Skimlinks, the means of creating revenue from the affiliate channel has been made easier by this technology, meaning it is a “no-brainer” for many publishers. As a result, says Navarro, affiliate marketing has become a “ubiquitous mainstream form of monetisation for publishers; a natural component of their revenue mix”.

Aside from the removal of complexity for the publisher, other benefits of the technology include insight into which retailers are most popular with their readers, the days that are busiest for shopping, and a host of other data.

“For advertisers, we have created this ecosystem of high quality content sites that are incentivised, encouraged and trained to link out to those advertisers natively in their content, and to create more commerce-related content,” says Navarro. “Advertisers derive all the branding and PR benefits of advertorial, with content created naturally by publishers for their readers.”

Mutually beneficial models that derive value for advertisers yet also incentivise the consumer are key to the success of affiliate channels. Adpoints, a viewer choice video platform that rewards people for watching and interacting with video ads in exchange for Nectar points, segments consumers to show them ads based on their preferences. Meanwhile, advertisers pay on a cost-per-engagement model.

“We’ve found that interweaving relevancy, choice and reward results in a far greater pre-disposition to the messaging and offer,” explains founding director Jason Froggett, who suggests that the future of affiliate marketing lies in the creation of “integrated” rather than “interruptive” online experiences.

“Video is beginning to play a significant role in the consumer’s web experience, so it’s a great opportunity for both advertisers and publishers. However, publishers need to think carefully how they leverage and monetise it. Real estate is limited, so they need to ensure that short-form content isn’t overly disrupted by interruptive formats.”

Size, scale and CPA – barriers to innovation
The importance of continued affiliate innovation can’t be understated, yet publishers face a raft of barriers – not least fending off competition from larger publishers and missing out on revenue as a result of the last click attribution model favoured by the majority of advertisers.

Andrew Copeland, network director at Tradedoubler, suggests that the focus on “instant return” often leads to innovative ideas being dismissed because they can’t deliver immediate results for advertisers.

“Publisher innovation is progressing at a faster rate than ever. Unfortunately, most of this innovation goes unnoticed and is therefore under-utilised. Naturally, advertisers focus on big numbers, which often come from big publishers. Imagination is key in seeing the value in a new proposition, which has no pedigree in delivering results.”

Meanwhile, the failure of the CPA/last click model to adequately recognise the value of all influencers in the path to conversion has created another barrier to innovation, according to Affilinet MD Helen Southgate, who says that the current model means innovative thinkers simply aren’t being rewarded.

As relevancy becomes ever more important to time-poor consumers, affiliate sites who embrace innovation are delivering results for advertisers. Challenges lie in the form of outdated affiliate payment models and a lack of understanding from advertisers, but what’s clear is that creativity and technology – the backbone of performance marketing – will continue to deliver results for forward-thinking publishers and partners. And this, in turn, is what drives the industry forward.
––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
The untapped opportunity of video affiliate
Video is one area that as yet has remained relatively untapped in comparison with more established affiliate models. Yet according to Cisco, video will account for over half (57 per cent) of all consumer web traffic by 2015 – almost four times as much as web browsing and email.

Video affiliate technologies which enable clickable affiliate links to appear over related videos are offering publishers a means of monetising their content. Coull’s Vidlink technology works by adding contextually relevant affiliate links to videos on publisher websites. According to Rae Rawlings, SVP Europe, maximising click-throughs and conversions is dependent on “targeting content, not people”.

“As video grows in popularity, performance models will continue to play a part in the monetisation process for publishers, alongside other models that recognise the power of video to drive wider branding and engagement goals for brands through association with publisher content,” she says.

However, Rawlings adds that many publishers don’t yet understand how to monetise their video content effectively. “The current formats made available to brands when they choose to advertise through video are restrictive. By this we mean they don’t let brands associate with the content itself, which would enable the advertiser to provide a more targeted and bespoke advertising experience. Currently a lot of the formats are predicated on tracking people across the internet, not actually focusing on what the video is about and what contextual relevance the ads have to the viewer.”

Jaakko Iso-Järvenpää, senior partner manager at ‘smart content’ platform Kiosked, echoes Rawlings’ comments on the importance of a contextually relevant model when it comes to unlocking the opportunity of video affiliate. The platform, which enables the addition of shoppable elements to images, videos or apps, has seen a 12 per cent increase in time spent on-site when using kiosks in image content.

“When consumers view videos the focus is in the content itself and anything disturbing will interfere with this experience,” says Iso-Järvenpää as he explains why brands have been cautious and slow to adopt video solutions.

“Marketers (affiliate and others) need to find ways to turn advertising into service. Innovation is the key and it should focus on how to capture impulses people get from visual content and how to deliver call-to-action in a non-intrusive manner.”

This feature was first published in The Drum’s performance supplement on 22 November.

リンクシェア・ジャパンと日本でのサービス展開を開始したスキムリンクスが提携 広告主への送客機会を広げ、コンテンツメディアの収益拡大に大きく貢献

リンクシェア・ジャパンと日本でのサービス展開を開始したスキムリンクスが提携

広告主への送客機会を広げ、コンテンツメディアの収益拡大に大きく貢献

リンクシェア・ジャパン株式会社(本社:東京都品川区、代表取締役会長兼社長:飯田 恭久、以下「リンクシェア・ジャパン」)と、日本でサービスを開始した英スキムリンクス社(本社:ロンドン、CEO:アリシア・ナヴァロー、以下「スキムリンクス」)が提携し、スキムリンクスが提供する自動アフィリエイトリンク変換ソリューションを利用するメディアに対して、リンクシェア・ジャパンのアフィリエイトプログラムの提供を開始しましたので、お知らせいたします。

「スキムリンクス」は、コンテンツを持つメディアが、自身のサイトのコンテンツ内に広告主のリンクを掲載すると、そのリンクを自動的にアフィリエイトリンクに変換する無料のソリューションです。そのリンクから商品が購入されると、メディアへ報酬が支払われるため、メディアのマネタイズを強力に後押しします。「スキムリンクス」を利用することで、メディアはアフィリエイトリンクの設置を自動化し、効率的に広告の運用をすることができるため、サイト送客のためにコンテンツを充実させるなど収益拡大に繋がるための施策の検討が可能になります。

「スキムリンクス」を利用したいメディアは、WEB登録をすれば、すぐに無料で利用ができるようになります。

登録はこちら ≫ http://skimlinks.co.jp/signup/linksharejp

 

スキムリンクスは、英米においての業績に対し2009年~2012年までの4年連続で前年比100 – 200 %の増収を果たしています。このたびスキムリンクスが日本でサービスを展開することにより、広告主への送客機会が広がり、コンテンツメディアの収益拡大に大きく貢献します。 

今後「スキムリンクス」だけでなく、コンテンツ内の単語が自動的にアフィリエイトリンクに変換される「スキムワード」も日本でサービス展開される予定で、さらにメディアの収益拡大に繋がることが期待されます。

 スキムリンクスとリンクシェア・ジャパンは、今後も連携して、広告主やメディアサイトのデジタルマーケティング全体の最適化をサポートし売上拡大を図ってまいります。 

■英スキムリンクス社とは

2007年に創業したスキムリンクスは、コンテンツで購入を促すことによってパブリッシャーに報酬をもたらす業界トップのコンテンツ・マネタイズ・プラットフォームです。スキムリンクスはConde Nast、Gawker、AOL Europe、WordPress、Hearst Digital、Haymarket Consumer Media、Telegraph Media Groupその他を始めとする日英米の14万を超えるウェブサイトで、毎月3億のクリック数を誇っています。スキムリンクスは、アメリカ、イギリス、日本を拠点に現在62人のチームで展開しています。

http://skimlinks.co.jp/

■リンクシェア・ジャパン株式会社(LinkShare Japan)とは

リンクシェア・ジャパンは、楽天グループのB2B(Business to Business)マーケティング会社として、アフィリエイトマーケティング、リードマーケティング、ディスプレイ&ターゲティングなど主にパフォーマンスベースのオンラインマーケティングサービスを提供しています。米国の本社を拠点に日本・英国・オーストラリアの世界4つの地域でアフィリエイトネットワークを展開していることが強みとなり、顧客には数多くのグローバルブランドがいます。日本国内では、大手のECサイトや大手の金融サイトを主要顧客とし、ROI(投資対効果)の高いオンラインマーケティングサービスを提供しています。さらにくわしい情報はこちらでご覧いただけます。

http://jp.linkshare.com/

■会社概要

英スキムリンクス社

・代表者           :CEO アリシア・ナヴァロー

・所在地           :ロンドン (日本支社:神奈川県横浜市)

・設立年月日    :2007年08月20日

・主な事業内容 :アフィリエイトプログラムサービスの提供

・URL              :https://skimlinks.com/home

・URL(日本) :http://skimlinks.co.jp/home

リンクシェア・ジャパン株式会社

・代表者           :代表取締役会長 兼 社長 飯田 恭久

・所在地           :東京都品川区東品川4-13-9 楽天タワー2号館

・設立年月日    :2004年12月24日

・主な事業内容 :パフォーマンスベースのオンラインサービス事業

・URL              :http://jp.linkshare.com/

 

■お問い合わせ先

スキムリンクス株式会社 担当:河上

Tel:03-5374-9457 E-mail:contact-jp@skimlinks.co.jp

 

リンクシェア・ジャパン株式会社

リンクシェア・ジャパンPR事務局 (㈱アンティル) 担当:仲山

TEL:03-5572-6061  FAX:03-5572-6065

Skimlinks Acquires InvisibleHand Product And Team, Forward Gains Stake

By Mike Butcher

Skimlinks, a platform which allows publishers full control over affiliate links and content monetization, has acquired InvisibleHand for an undisclosed sum. The latter has become a significant player in the realm of real-time e-commerce product and pricing, and is best known for its browser extension which notifies users if the product or flights they’re shopping for is available more cheaply elsewhere.

Founded way back in 2009, InvisibleHand has been trundling along for years, quietly building a sizeable audience, pulling in revenues from these affiliate links, but also generating a powerful API. They claim the consumer-facing product has found over $1 billion of savings for users in the US, UK and German markets. But the underlying business-to-business side allows retailers to do realtime pricing. On the flip side, Skimlinks says the acquisition will enhance its core affiliate products, offer new insights to partners, and boost earnings for its network of publishers.

InvisibleHand’s engineering and product teams will join Skimlinks, as will CEO and founder Robin Landy, but the InvisibleHand product will remain running and now benefit from Skimlinks’ now significant sales force.

Forward Internet Group (known as Forward), the London-based “studio model” investor, was a majority investor in InvisibleHand and now acquires a minority equity stake in Skimlinks.

Alicia Navarro, CEO and founder of Skimlinks says the InvisibleHand team has “tackled two of the toughest problems in e-commerce: algorithmically matching large product data sets across multiple retailers, and pairing that information with accurate price data.” Landy says “Skimlinks is the perfect partner for the next stage of InvisibleHand’s development.”

InvisibleHand was essentially invented inside Forward before it created “Forward Labs”, its ‘startup studio’. Forward’s Paul Fisher says this was the first sale of a Forward Labs project so they are “exceptionally pleased” that the model is starting to bare results.

Skimlinks has been on a roll of moves lately: raising growth funding, launching a real-time product comparison product, a product aimed at the Fashion industry, a new Japanese operation, and a product for publishers affected by the closure of Google Affiliate Network.

Skimlinks competitors include Viglink and Yieldkit.

 

Firm Buyout to ‘Turbo-Charge’ Business

Content monetisation business Skimlinks, has acquired browser extension firm – the InvisibleHand.

London-based Forward Internet Group (Forward), the media technology and consumer investment firm, has been a majority investor in InvisibleHand since the business was founded in 2009. Upon completion of the deal, Forward will hold a minority equity stake in Skimlinks.

Chief executive officer (CEO) and founder of Skimlinks, Alicia Navarro, said InvisibleHand’s powerful API and technology will allow Skimlinks to immediately enhance its core products, offer unique insights, and maximise earnings for its network of publishers.

InvisibleHand is a browser extension which discreetly notifies the user if the product or flights they are shopping for is available more cheaply from another retailer or travel site. If the user buys a product after clicking on the button in an InvisibleHand notification, the retailer or seller pays the company a ‘small commission’. The price the user pays is not affected by the commission.

Additional Comment from Alicia Navarro, CEO:
Just to clarify, we acquired Invisible Hand because of their awesome pricing and product matching API that we can integrate into our products. The browser extension came with the deal, but is not the driver for it, and we intend to fully abide by all industry policies regarding DSAs.

Online Monetisation

Skimlinks, which has offices in London and San Francisco, will be bringing on InvisibleHand’s engineering and product teams, to work with it on shaping the future of the e-commerce and online monetisation industries.

“The InvisibleHand team have successfully tackled two of the toughest problems in e-commerce: algorithmically matching large product data sets across multiple retailers, and pairing that information with accurate price data,” Navarro said.
“We have been partners and friends with InvisibleHand for many years so it is a great pleasure to have Robin and his team join Skimlinks.”

CEO and founder of InvisibleHand, Robin Landy, said Skimlinks was the ‘perfect partner’ for the next stage of InvisibleHand’s development.

“I’m excited by the opportunity to turbo-charge Skimlinks’ core products, but also to make InvisibleHand’s unique dataset and services available across the broadest range of applications,” Landy said.

Skimlinks buys InvisibleHand to add product matching and pricing intelligence to its toolset

Link monetization company Skimlinks has announced that it has acquired InvisibleHand, a specialist in real-time e-commerce “pricing intelligence” and products.

The deal, size unknown, will bring InvisibleHand’s API and other technology to Skimlinks’ core products, which the company says will allow its network of publishers to receive unique insights and be able to maximize their earning potential.

Alicia Navarro, CEO and founder of Skimlinks said :

“The InvisibleHand team have successfully tackled two of the toughest problems in e-commerce: algorithmically matching large product data sets across multiple retailers, and pairing that information with accurate price data. We have been partners and friends with InvisibleHand for many years so it is a great pleasure to have Robin and his team join Skimlinks.”

 

Alicia Navarro, Founder, Skimlinks: Trust Your Gut Over Your Data!

 

The Next Women Europe Theme

Alicia Navarro is CEO & Founder of Skimlinks.com, the leading content monetization solution for online publishers. Launched in 2008, Skimlinks has received significant international critical acclaim, and won over thousands of publishers who now easily earn an incremental revenue stream from Skimlinks.

It works by aggregating 23 affiliate networks and 17,500 active merchant programs into one Skimlinks account, and then automating the process of creating and maintaining affiliate links, plus providing additional tools to help content creators make more money from their content without affecting the user experience or compromising editorial integrity.

Alicia evolved the business over many years, starting with a social decision-making tool called Skimbit.com, evolving it first into a white-label service, then finally after building Skimlinks as an internal monetization tool, launched it as a stand-alone commercial platform to help other businesses monetize their editorial and user-generated content. The ability to make tough intuitive decisions to guide her company to success makes her a well-regarded entrepreneur in the tech startup community.

Prior to Skimlinks, Alicia worked for 10 years in web and mobile application product management for the likes of IBM, Vodafone, Optus and Fairfax Media. She has a Bachelors in Information Technology from the University of Technology, Sydney, and was the winner of the University Medal for graduating at the top of her Computing Sciences faculty.

Alicia was the first founder to pitch at a The NextWomen Pitch Event, in December 2008!

We spoke to Alicia about the differences in building a business in the UK and the US; the European startups she most admires; and the heart-breaking decision which turned out to be the best she ever made.

TNW: What’s new with Skimlinks, and what’s next? What’s at the top of your mind with regard to your business?

AN: Skimlinks evolves as a company very quickly. There is never a dull moment in our office! Recently we launched a clever extension to our SkimWords product aimed at fashion websites, helping them make extra revenue on their fashion-related content.

We like to keep future product releases under wraps but we are particularly interested in new ways of approaching attribution, moving away from the last-click model that affiliate marketing traditionally uses.

TNW: You have pivoted your business model. Tell us about that process. What is your advice for entrepreneurs who are considering doing the same?

AN: We actually pivoted twice: once from a B2C social shopping site (like Pinterest) into a B2B white-label version of that social shopping site; and again into a content monetization technology that helps publishers earn commissions for the sales their content drives. The final pivot was driven by desperation at the worst point in the financial crisis, where we looked at what was the most exciting element of what we had built as a business over 2 years and dumped everything else. It was heart-breaking but ultimately the best decision I ever made.

My advice to entrepreneurs: you need a good gut instinct. I’m not a fan of overly data-driven decisions because you can twist data to tell any story you like.

TNW: What do you see as the key differences between building a business in Europe and the US?

AN: For a B2B business, London specifically is great because most of the main companies you’d want to sell to are there, so you can visit them personally via the Tube, and leverage their US parent companies to win international business.

However, the scale of business is an order of magnitude greater in the US, so unless your business is inherently local, the US must feature in your growth roadmap.

TNW: Where do you see the opportunities in Europe?

AN: I think Europe is a great base for B2B companies as well as more tech oriented companies. It is unusual for B2C social web companies to start in Europe, mainly because the market is so fragmented from a language and culture perspective; the biggest successes are normally international B2B companies.

TNW: Please give us three examples of up-and-coming European Startups you admire, and why.

AN: I am a huge fan of Editd, although they have been around almost as long as we have, so are more than ‘up-and-coming’. Smart team, great product, awesome successes. Similarly I think TagMan and PHG – both companies also invested in by one of my VCs, Greycroft – are superb British companies that are now international and absolutely killing it.

TNW: At The NextWeb’s April European conference in Amsterdam, Neelie Kroes stated, “I have a European Dream, too. That Europe becomes a place where entrepreneurs and innovators start and stay – before growing globally.” To underscore her strong commitment to make Europe a leader in the tech world, she gave her personal e-mail address to the crowd and asked that they contact her with ideas on how Europe can do more to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship. We’ll be interviewing Neelie later this month. What is your suggestion for fostering innovation and entrepreneurialism in Europe?

AN: I think the UK is doing a great job at the moment of implementing policies which encourage entrepreneurship and company bases in the UK.

Policies like R&D tax credits, Entrepreneur’s Relief, and EMI option schemes are three of the best examples of government initiatives that directly influence my decision to stay based in the UK.

The rest of Europe can no doubt employ similar schemes to encourage and retain local entrepreneurs.

TNW: How have you formed your team; your original team and later additions? Do you use headhunters etc.?

AN: We have an internal HR Manager who has been incredible for us in both managing our hiring process as well as focusing on team initiatives that boost retention and job satisfaction. After about 20 people, I think internal HR becomes indispensible. We still do use recruiters and headhunters on occasion, but it is usually a last resort after we exhaust our own contacts and direct recruitment efforts.

Hiring is the most important thing that we do, but it is also closely coupled with a passionate attention to caring for employees after they are hired: to help them feel fulfilled, taken care of, feel well communicated to and feel that they are developing career-wise.

It is without a doubt the hardest part of the job, which most early stage entrepreneurs don’t think about.

TNW: How would you have grown the business without funding?

AN: Our kind of company is difficult to grow without funding as it requires a long-term investment in difficult technology, a lot of experimental R&D, and a focus on customer development rather than short-term revenue returns. We’d have had to focus on a smaller subset of functionality if we were to do without external funding.

TNW: How do you update your skills?

AN: My co-founder and I invest in a CEO Coach, a great leadership consultant who develops our skills as leaders and teaches us new skills in working together and with our team. I also spend a lot of my spare time socialising with other CEOs, swapping tales of what works and what doesn’t, so we can learn vicariously from each other.