If you post a pin on Pinterest.com and it happens to link to an ecommerce site with an affiliate program (sites like Amazon.com, for example), Pinterest has begun injecting their own affiliate tracking codes into your links. I haven’t seen any major news outlets discussing or commenting on the implications as the popularity of this relatively new online hot spot begins its vertical climb into the social stratosphere.
What’s most interesting is that they have chosen to do this in a sneaky, non-disclosing way to their users. The question is, does their choice hint at an unprofessional and immature business philosophy by they decision makers behind this quickly exploding social site?
How is Pinterest modifying users’ links?
Pinterest appears to be using the innovative skimlinks service to inject affiliate tracking codes into pin links. Skimlinks is pretty cool. They monitor all links to somewhere in the neighborhood of 17,000 affiliate programs. Anytime a link (or keyword, depending on the skimlinks customer preference) is used on your website, links can be dynamically adjusted or inserted where necessary.
Considering the traffic volume and product link quantity that Pinterest is bringing to the table, I have a feeling Pinterest may just be their biggest customer, by far! Skimlinks better be giving them stock in the company.
And, Skimlinks isn’t disappointed either as they walk away with about 25% of the take on each affiliate sale.
To Disclose or Not to Disclose…
…That is the question.
Personally, I find it a little disturbing, not that they would do such a thing… just that they would do it without fully disclosing it to their users. It seems somewhat desperate and points to questionable judgement considering the possible media attention and fallout that could potentially follow.
At the end of the day, we’re all allowed to make mistakes… even big corporations, even more so, up-and-coming startups that are just getting their footing in the big ol’ World of business. Still, you gotta ask, don’t you think they see how likely it is that people will have trust issues over their failure to disclose this seemingly important information to their users?
Even Skimlinks own site has a FAQ section about disclosure recommending that companies like Pinterest make full public disclosure.