Case Study: How The Independent simplified and grew their affiliate marketing revenue stream

The Company:

The Independent is a British newspaper with an average of 173 million page views per month from around the world, and as part of their revenue model, the company utilizes affiliate marketing where appropriate. Specifically, one section of the newspaper’s website is called “IndyBest” and is dedicated to product reviews which help consumers make more informed purchasing decisions. This section accounts for roughly 95% of their affiliate commissions, with the other 5% being scattered through the rest of their site.  

These reviews range across numerous categories from the latest tech to the best camping gear, to great gifts for teenage girls. Each review may also have a link to a trusted e-commerce site to easily send each user to the item they’re reviewing, which offers consumers a quick way to order the product if they choose. With these links, the paper utilizes the affiliate programs provided by many of these e-commerce stores to earn “referral fees” from any purchase a consumer makes after visiting their site.  From the various e-commerce stores and affiliate programs they utilized, they found that Amazon showed great promise with regards to conversion, earnings and breadth of products available.

The Challenge:

Although The Independent is a newspaper in the UK, their publication has a worldwide readership, and many of those international readers want to purchase products through IndyBest’s Amazon links. However, since Amazon is actually made up of multiple country and region-specific storefronts, anyone who clicks these links from outside of the UK received a poor user experience since they were sent to Amazon’s UK storefront (amazon.co.uk) instead of their own. Because users are unlikely to purchase from foreign storefronts due to language, currency, and shipping cost issues, this led to poor conversion rates and less affiliate commissions for the newspaper.

Compounding the issue is that the IndyBest reviews are created by a number of different journalists, and not all have access to the appropriate Amazon Associates accounts in order to create “affiliated” links. This meant that some articles didn’t include The Independent’s correct Associate ID, and resulted in a lost monetization opportunity, even if items were purchased through an IndyBest review.

The Fix:

Realizing they needed a way to manage their international audience, and better support their authors, they sought out a time-efficient way to make sure every one of their commerce links to Amazon were properly affiliated, and catered to their international audience.

After some diligent research the executive in charge of digital relationships stumbled across GeoRiot and realized their JavaScript Snippet would provide the results they were looking to achieve with Amazon. GeoRiot’s snippet automatically finds all Amazon links on a site, then translates them to globally aware affiliate links on the fly. That means that any Amazon link, regardless of where on the site it was added and by whom, was using the correct Amazon Associate parameter, and would send each user to their correct storefront to make their purchases. By utilizing the snippet, The Independent no longer had to worry about each individual link getting affiliated by each contributor, and they could fully monetize from their global audience for each article.

The Independent started implementing GeoRiot’s JavaScript snippet in the end of May, 2014 on their website. By September, The Independent’s parent company was excited enough with the results, they planned for further integrations, including leveraging the GeoRiot snippet and service with another of their papers – The London Evening Standard.  While this second paper didn’t have the same international reach, the in-depth reporting and the ease of use of GeoRiot’s snippet provided peace of mind that every link was affiliated and globalized correctly. The team also started to swap out product links for other online retailers with the Amazon equivalent to better support their international audience and improve their conversion rates.

The Results:

This resulted in not only an increase in revenue, earnings per click, and conversion rates for their international Amazon affiliate programs, but also their base country of the UK. When all was said and done, the GeoRiot Snippet was responsible for about 20% of the Independent’s affiliate commissions. The snippet made sure every Amazon click ended up in the storefront the consumers were most likely to purchase from, which meant that every click became more valuable, and caused conversions to go up across the board.

Sam Stansfield, ‎Digital Partnerships Executive at ESI Media (owners of The Independent Newspaper) had this to say about the implementation:

“Working with GeoRiot has been a great experience.  They are extremely helpful, provide a great service and have helped save a lot of time geo-targeting our links.”

If you’re curious to find out if GeoRiot can work for you, you can sign up for free at the GeoRiot website.  The JavaScript snippet is just one of the many ways GeoRiot can help globalize and affiliate your Amazon (and iTunes) links.

If you have questions about this case study, contact us. We’re always happy to help.

 

   Facts Sheet 
   Page Views Per Month: 173 million
   Uniques Per Month: 74 Million
   Audience Breakdown: 45% UK
55% International
   Avg. Commissions Earned  
   UK – May to November, 2014: 108% increase
   International Commissions (Started at $0):

11% month over month increase
   Earnings Per Click
   UK EPC % Increase, May to Nov. 5.3% increase
   International EPC, May to Nov

800% increase
   Amazon Links Monetized
   Click % Increase, May to Nov. 96.7% increase

 

   Conversion Rate   Before (May) After (Nov)
   UK:   5.72% 7.83%
   International:    0% 2.79%
   UK Conversion % Increase: 36.9% increase
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