Gawker Media Embraces Affiliate Marketing

Becky Doles

Gawker Media appears set to integrate affiliate marketing in their revenue stream according to a leaked memo from Nick Denton posted on Business Insider on Thursday afternoon. While content publishers have participated in affiliate marketing for years, Gawker is certainly among the biggest, with both and Gizmodo routinely hovering around the Alexa top 1000 sites.

According to the memo, Executive Director of Marketing, Erin Pettigrew, adds business development, revenue partnerships and e-commerce integration to her purview. Revenue partnerships and e-commerce seem to be how Gawker is characterizing affiliate marketing.

Gawker getting into affiliate marketing creates a hefty competitor for other content affiliates. It also signifies a growth opportunity for affiliate marketing as a whole. Nick Denton is typically a pioneer in the online publishing space. He also finds methods of monetization that traditional publishers dismiss or overlook. If Gawker is seeing success in a particular approach, other publishing companies are usually not far behind in following his lead.

The Business Development section of the memo, Denton states:

The second main growth area for Gawker Media is content-driven commerce, ranging from affiliate marketing to in-page transactions. A historical tidbit: the original business model for Gizmodo was affiliate fees from purchases of gadgets through Amazon. We didn’t have the scale then to make that work. We do now. In December we made $70,000 from Amazon. Without really trying. No seriously, it was an accident.

Maybe the reason Denton views their December Amazon windfall an accident is because it’s hard to know where they are linking at the moment. A cursory search of Gizmodo only turned up one page with Amazon affiliate links, which appear to use the Amazon affiliate ID for The Wirecutter, a site run by Gizmodo alumnus, Brian Lam.

While $70,000 isn’t a massive amount of revenue from affiliate marketing efforts, the average affiliate would need to generate about $800,000 in gross sales to earn that much from Amazon, based on my own back-of-the-napkin estimate. Amazon caps out at 8.5 percent commissions in most cases. By mixing up the advertising sources and generally focusing on affiliate marketing as a viable revenue stream, Gawker should easily double the commissions they generate on the same volume of gross sales.

What do you think? Is Gawker the publisher every affiliate network should be wooing?

Becky Doles

Becky is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at TUNE. Before TUNE, she led a variety of marketing and communications projects at San Francisco startups. Becky received her bachelor's degree in English from Wake Forest University. After living nearly a decade in San Francisco and Seattle, she has returned to her home of Charleston, SC, where you can find her enjoying the sun and salt water with her family.