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New Twist on Building Traffic

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Traffic - - it's what every site wants. Traffic equals eyeballs, and advertisers and partners will pay for exposure to those eyeballs.

But how do sites build traffic when there are so many sites out there soaking up that eyeball time? One potential answer is signing up online partners. And one of the best strategies we've seen thus far is coming from About.com Inc. About.com already has hundreds of core sites built by its Web masters, who make money according to how much traffic their sites pull in.

Through its Luna Network strategy, About.com is also signing up independent sites in a number of areas and aggregating traffic to sell to advertisers. About.com makes money. The partners make money. And the traffic just keeps rolling in.

About.com CEO Scott Kurnit explains how Luna works for his company. Maybe a similar strategy can work for yours.

Finding the Best Affiliates
The idea of signing up affiliate sites is nothing new. For years both large and small sites have been pulling together complementary site partners, whether they identify themselves as a "network" like About.com or ChickClick, or just carry a link exchange.

Affiliate sites can pull more traffic to their partners, resulting in an improved bottom line for all the partners. About.com calls its affiliate program the Luna Network, and it's essential to About.com's growth. But sites can't just sign up any affiliate. A bad affiliate may bring you traffic, but it may also bring down your whole network. As soon as customers have a bad experience with a site on your network, they're likely to discard your URL. That's why About.com relies on its own Web masters to find good affiliates.

"Our guides are telling us the best five or ten sites in their particular area. We then cut a business development deal with those sites. These are small-to-medium high-quality sites," Kurnit says.

About.com also allows potential partners to apply for Luna membership. But it relies primarily on its Web masters, who are looking for sites that complement About.com and know what's out there.

Next Step: Making the Deal
When About.com finds the right site, it sets about cutting a deal. About.com surrounds one of its own core sites with four or five Luna sites.

"We go to the Luna sites and say, 'You own your site. We want you to throw us traffic for which we will pay you. While we' re at it, we' ll sell your ads because we sell targeted ads very well, better than you' re going to find from any of the conventional ad networks, and we will pay you for that inventory. We' ll do business development for you. We will find new opportunities for you that you' ll want to put on your site. We' ll list you on our specific guide sites so that you get traffic from us, and we' ll do that for free."

The affiliate site then has time to concentrate on its core business - - creating a wonderful site.

"We get an exponentially growing service with our multitude of deep partnerships," Kurnit says. "We get traffic efficiently thrown to our core property. We develop relationships with sites that we may at some point choose to purchase. At its foundation, Luna is using the core of what the Internet is, working with others and sharing opportunity with others to grow a much bigger business."

Can an affiliate network help your business grow? It's possible if you find the right affiliates and give them a good enough deal to keep them close. And best of all, it doesn't involve many out-of-pocket costs. About.com's Luna Network strategy may work for your company if building traffic is the name of your game - - why not give the idea a spin?

Copyright © 2000 Strategy Week

Last updated: Sep 1, 2000




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