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1/12/2010
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VigLink Gets Google Backing

The affiliate program aggregation startup has a way to help Web publishers collect more referral fees for links to merchants' sites.

VigLink, a company that simplifies participation in online merchants' affiliate programs, on Tuesday said that it had received seed funding from First Round Capital, Google Ventures, and various angel investors from LinkedIn, among other technology entrepreneurs.

The amount of the investment was $800,000.

Currently in closed beta testing, VigLink provides Web site owners with a way to earn referral commissions from links on their sites without the burden of managing multiple affiliate accounts and manually inserting affiliate account codes in every link.

VigLink users receive a snippet of JavaScript code to insert in their Web pages. When a visitor clicks on a link, VigLink's code rewrites the Web link on the fly to include the appropriate affiliate code. The fact that the appending of the affiliate code happens after the link is clicked means that the commercial nature of the referral isn't as obvious, which may or may not raises issues of transparency and ethics for ostensibly objective news publishers. But such concerns tend to be discounted in times of revenue pressure.

The company was co-founded by Oliver Roup, a former director at Microsoft, and Rodrigo Leroux, former data architect at Flixster, who were classmates at MIT.

Google's investment in VigLink represents another vote by the company for services that scale efficiently through automation. As Google Ventures partner Rich Miner puts it, "The solution is technically sophisticated but, like Google Analytics, it's simple to install, and like AdSense it has the ability to scale from individual bloggers to large Web publishers."

"Every time a click leaves a publisher's site, value is being created, and publishers should be able to capitalize on that value," said Roup, co-founder and CEO, in a statement. "But our analysis shows that the complexity and labor involved are prohibitive more than half the time. VigLink has created a product that makes solving that problem transparent and effortless, not just for new content but for the back catalog as well."

Given Google's interest in pay-per-click advertising and its financial interest in the company, it would not be unexpected for Google to acquire the company at a later date, if its technology proves to be a success.

Update: Added investment amount.

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