Like others keen to the affiliate game, I found that Pinterest was using Skimlinks a long time ago (early 2011?), and thought nothing of it. Other social shopping sites use Skimlinks or Viglinks, so why would I think strange of it? I guess I was wrong… To bring you up to speed here is what has happened over the last ten days:
I agree with Scott Jangro (please read his comment) and others who are educated in the affiliate industry. There isn’t anything wrong with what Pinterest was doing, but it should have been stated somewhere.
Journalists love “scandals” and “uncovering secrets” which is why there were so many exaggerated headlines. The journalists, and those who are uneducated in the industry, quickly make a mess of things they do not understand. For example, a post titled “Covert Affiliate Link Scheme Exposed”. Really David? Are you selling a tabloid? Clearly the title of this article was meant to capture attention and readership, tabloid style. Based on the contents of user comments on that article, I’m not the only one who feels that way.
Oh well moving on…
Why should they keep Skimlinks? It is a solid revenue stream. Other user generated social shopping sites like Svpply make money off affiliate links, nobody says boo.
Why shouldn’t they keep Skimlinks? On the contrary, if Facebook implemented affiliate links, everyone would cry. The big picture is about user experience, community and expanding a viral social network. Any thing that can take away from that is not good practice. With the large investments they are receiving, any amount of affiliate commissions is going to be a minor issue, especially if they are only at 16 employees. Relative to the massive amount of content (Pins) posted, I really don’t think there is too much in the way of e-commerce anyway.
It makes sense that the CEO stated they were testing things out, but I think it was actually just an initial way for a startup to generate revenue and prove viability to investors – more so then a long term strategy. Side Note: How much revenue/traffic did Skimlinks just lose because of this? Eeek.
I don’t like the fact they were so quick to drop it, but I do understand. At the end of the day Pinterest has a bigger picture right now then generating revenue from affiliate links. And that’s fine.