Skimlinks Q&A: Affiliate Peak Shopping Strategies

Following a successful networking event in London last week, we sat down with Dipa Shah, Director of Merchant Development at Skimlinks to get the low down on what you need to know to plan for the 2024 peak shopping period.

Publisher Q&A: Affiliate Peak Shopping Strategies. Dipa Shah headshot

Hi Dipa, it’s great to chat with you about Skimlinks and your work with Rakuten Advertising. Can we start with a little introduction?

Of course, I’m Dipa Shah and I’m Skimlinks Director of Merchant Development. I’ve got extensive experience in the affiliate industry, working for agencies and affiliate networks, and I’m delighted to be working for Skimlinks, the leading commerce content platform. My role is championing our merchants, fostering fantastic partnerships with our elite editorial publishers and helping drive successful outcomes for our affiliate network partners, like Rakuten Advertising. This is also a timely conversation as we’re beginning preparations for peak season.

With the peak shopping season starting earlier each year, when is the ideal time for brands to start planning?

It sounds mad to talk about Black Friday and peak in June, but we are lying to ourselves if we pretend it all kicks off in October. We know publishers plan their strategy through the summer and I’m passionate about working with advertisers to align their promotional calendar with the publishers they want to collaborate with. If you’re serious about generating new coverage and being top of mind with the major editorial publishers you should aim to conclude planning before the end of June.

What are the most common challenges facing retailers during peak season and how does Skimlinks help overcome them?

 Skimlinks has great experience helping diverse retailers win during the peak season. The key challenges we see are share of voice, and of course most fundamentally of all hitting revenue goals.

Data is at the core of what we do, and our market-leading analytics help both advertisers and publishers understand their performance. Working across items like our new inclusions report, for example, helps the advertisers we partner with understand where their gaps are in coverage and the right players to collaborate with.

Commission rate is key too and its central position of importance has not changed either. Publishers have in many markets, now established mature affiliate businesses rooted in profitable long-term partnerships with key advertisers. Access to the publishers lies through a combination of long-term broad base and targeted commission increases.

Tenancy is a way to kickstart performance, allowing retailers to gain share of voice by investing in a relationship with publishers that can reach audiences that resonate with their brand. Lastly, the flexibility to enable editors to test your products will pay dividends, with first-person product reviews a key focus for SEO performance.

What affiliate strategies does Skimlinks recommend for retailers to maximise their sales during the peak shopping season?

Coverage is really vital to drive performance at peak season. Tenancies and flat fees are highly recommended to ensure coverage during peak season, particularly for brands that want to build relationships with top publishers to reach their high consideration audiences. Timely communication matters a lot too: the earlier your marketing calendar is available the better. Then surfacing top sellers and trending products on a regular basis helps facilitate article features during peak season itself. We work extremely closely with publisher teams to identify their top URLs and my team in particular focus on how we can have publishers support conversion for merchants. 

What measures are Skimlinks taking to maintain a high standard of quality in your network?

Our approach to network quality is robust and rigorous. Only 3% of publishers that apply to work with Skimlinks end up being approved and our veteran NQ team takes a forensic approach to our approvals process.

Operationally we continue to enhance our already stringent process and add additional safeguards.

Skimlinks is an early adopter of Rakuten Advertising’s Audience Engine technology, tell us a little about your decision to use personalisation and audience targeting technologies.

We were delighted to partner on Audience Engine early and already see the utility of enhanced personalisation for our Merchants. The ability to commission at the category level and with specific publishers has helped elevate existing relationships between our Merchants and Publishers.

With Audience Engine, we’re able to deliver ROI for our clients by understanding what publishers we can offer flexible rates with. Our US team are also using it to test different cookie periods with publishers to ensure they receive fair reward for their efforts.

Skimlinks has had a busy start to the year, expanding further in new regions. What markets are you focusing on?

International expansion is thrilling. We began scaling Skimlinks internationally in earnest after our acquisition by Taboola and are delighted to now work across many markets.

Teams from Paris to Madrid to Bangkok and Sydney work each day to deliver great results for our customers.

Are there any strategies that you’ve found work well?

Each market has its own nuances and vibe. I will say that the team has taken great advantage of events, summits and conferences like Rakuten Optimism and Dealmaker EMEA and Australia to help supercharge growth in new markets.

Are you ready for the 2024 Peak Shopping Period? Find out how Rakuten Advertising can supercharge your affiliate program during the busiest retail period of the year. Visit

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