Skimlinks Takes $4.5 Million Bertelsmann Investment For Affiliate Links

Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments is buying in to affiliate marketing network Skimlinks, leading a $4.5 million second round investment.

The company is taking money to finance U.S. and global expansion and for R&D.

In the same ballpark as Vibrant Media, CEO Alicia Navarro’s company converts product-related text in web pages in to hyperlinks with affiliate links, so that publishers benefit from users’ outbound visits to merchants’ sites.

She claims an average of 2.3 percent of people who click through to a merchant site end up converting to purchase the merchant’s product that was specified in the link.

Navarro founded the company in London, where she still counts 25 staff, but has since moved HQ to San Francisco Bay, where it counts three alongside two in New York.

“We’re starting to do very well across Europe, Navarro tells paidContent. “Having a partner like BDMI can make it easier for us than any other VC could.

“You look at something like Vibrant Media, which everyone hates even though they make publishers lots of money. We can be high-yielding for publishers, we are much more of a user utility that happens to make money as well.”

“The words we turn in to links are always very specific. Historically, intent advertising is just about highlighting generic words and showing big brand-name ads. We’re going further down the line of transactional e-commerce.

Skimlinks has now raised $7.5 million in total. New investors 500startups and Venrex join Bertelsmann and previous backers Sussex Place, The Accelerator Group and Nesta in this round. Previous backers gave under £700,000 in seed funds in February 2009, then a further $1.5 million first round in December 2009.