News that popular social bookmarking site Pinterest might be generating revenue by adjusting and tracking the links attached to user-generated pins made the rounds online on Wednesday — but according to the site’s affiliate tracking partner, the concept is hardly a new one.
A report by social media blog LLSocial brought attention to the fact that Pinterest — which allows users to collect and share things they like on the Internet — is using a service called Skimlinks to add affiliate links to products.
“Is Pinterest receiving revenue from tracking user-generated pins? Yes, but there is nothing negative about it,” Skimlinks CEO Alicia Navarro told Mashable. “Affiliated networks help companies monetize their sites and there’s nothing illegal or wrong about it. It’s common, effective and smart. It should be celebrated.”
It’s so common, in fact, that about 18,000 retailers are working with a network of 26 affiliated partners, Navarro said. Publishers from small blogs to bigger companies such as Pinterest work with affiliated partners so when a link directs a visitor to a retailer involved in the affiliated network and makes a purchase, the merchant will pay the affiliated network, who will then pay the publisher. Skimlinks takes about 25% of the generated affiliated revenue.
“The advertiser or retailer pays only if the user makes a purchase,” Navarro said. “Pinterest is one of many companies using services like this, and it’s become an ubiquitous practice in online marketing, like investing in banner ads or texting programs.”
However, the cause of concern by some was that Pinterest doesn’t disclose that it modifies its links by adding a tracking code on the site.
“As most bloggers are aware, when you use an affiliate link in your post, you need to provide some type of disclosure either by it clearly being an ad, mentioning it is an affiliate link or at a minimum providing some type of prominent disclosure that your site features affiliate links,” LLSocial said. “This is done because you have a financial interest in promoting the product.”
Although Navarro said the company endorses disclosure, it’s up to the publisher: “I’m sure many publishers and media outlets don’t go out of their way to make it known to users about who their advertising partners are,” Navarro said.
For more information on affiliated networks and how Pinterest is using the service, visit Navarro’s latest blog post on Skimlinks here.
Do you think Pinterest should make it more clear that it’s adding tracking code to user’s pins? Or do you think it doesn’t matter? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
BONUS: A Pinterest Timeline
March 2010: Pinterest Launched
Pinterest is launched to a closed beta. Later it will move to the email invite system it currently employs.
Check Out More of Mashable’s Coverage of Pinterest
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- Pinterest Drives More Traffic Than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn Combined [STUDY]
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