If you’ve read some Cloudwards reviews and articles, you may have noticed that we provide vendor recommendations, not only on the quality of a service, but also on how the services compare to each other.
We are a publication that derives its revenue from affiliate links from some of these services. For this reason, we want to discuss how Cloudwards affiliate partnerships work so that you feel confident in our reviews and recommendations.
Key points to remember:
- Cloudwards.net is owned by a small private company, not a large tech conglomerate.
- We earn a small commission when users sign up for some of the services we review on our site.
- We chose this revenue model because we believe it provides the best reader experience (ad-free) while remaining independent of parent company pressure.
In this article, we’ll discuss how affiliate partnerships work, whether you can trust the affiliate model in tech publications versus other revenue models, and how you can find reliable product recommendations when many giant conglomerates own technology publications and the services that these publications review and recommend.
First, let’s talk about what affiliate partnerships are and how they impact you.
What are affiliate partnerships?
Affiliate partnerships occur when a service or product offers an income program that publications, blogs, or influencers can sign up for, where they earn a small commission if someone signs up for the service through their site.
Affiliate partnerships are how most publishers earn revenue in the internet age. According to a Forrester report, an estimated 84% of publishers and 81% of advertisers use affiliate marketing to earn a portion of their revenue.
Take Amazon as an example. If you follow an influencer, they might suggest you use a certain product and then include a link to Amazon. If you click on the link and purchase the product through Amazon, that influencer earns a small commission on that sale. It works the same way with software; if you buy a subscription, the intermediary who recommends it earns a small commission.
If you’re wondering how to find out which publications are making money from affiliate programs, in the US sites must disclose their affiliate programs. Take a look at the top, side, or bottom of a site and see if they have a review on it.
The Downside of Affiliate Commissions
Affiliate partnerships can create a conflict of interest between review sites and the products they review. If a site is paid a lot of money by a vendor, it has an incentive to promote that product over others that don’t offer a commission.
How can readers be sure that these review sites aren’t just trying to provide the most lucrative services, rather than those that would best serve the reader? The truth is, there are probably sites like this out there. Fortunately, Cloudwards is not one of them.
Affiliate Partnerships and Cloudwards
Here are three things you need to know about our approach to affiliates.
1. Affiliates don’t define our content
Yes, we have affiliate partnerships with many of the services we review, but we also review services that we don’t have an affiliate partnership with (check out our in-depth browser reviews as a great example). We don’t limit our topics to ways of making money.
2. Extensive affiliate partnerships level the playing field
Affiliate partnerships tend to be more common in some services than others. Take VPNs as an example. Almost all VPN companies use affiliate marketing to gain users, and because the practice is so widespread, it levels the playing field by removing any competitor’s advantage.
3. We say both pros and cons
We’re not shy about telling readers the cons of affiliate services, not just the pros. This is because honesty is its own reward. We want readers to come back to our articles and trust our recommendations. If we don’t have readers, we have no reason to publish content in the first place. However, if anyone reads the cons and always wants to sign up for the service, well, we’ll still take that small affiliate commission and put it in our piggy bank.
Other Revenue Options for Posts
Not all publications use affiliate marketing, or they use it in conjunction with another revenue approach. Besides affiliate marketing, publications make money in two main ways: advertising or being owned by a deep-pocketed parent company (or person).
Most readers know how advertising works. Companies pay publications money to run ads on the site, hoping that readers will click on the ad and buy what they’re selling.
The interest of this model is obvious to the reader. It is more or less that.
There are many more disadvantages. First of all, sites with ads look terrible. Nothing makes us want to leave a page faster than seeing tons of flashing ads and pop-ups when we try to read an article. At Cloudwards, we want to keep readers on the page and provide them with a great user experience.
Second, we care a lot about privacy and security. Many of our top-ranked services make it to the top because we appreciate their dedication to security and privacy. The truth about advertising is that most of them are designed specifically for you when big tech companies collect data on everything you do. Additionally, it is not uncommon for ad-injector software (or adware) to hijack advertisements on websites.
Third, reliance on advertising for revenue is dangerous for the publication and its team members. A huge advertising downturn is what has led many news outlets to mass layoffs or put up for sale over the past 20 years, which brings us to the next section.
Support for large parent companies
We can’t claim to know the inner financial workings of every publication, but there are plenty that likely manage to make ends meet with the financial backing of big corporations or wealthy individuals.
It is important to note that some parent companies with large capital also have services for editing their publications. This can create an obvious conflict of interest, especially when publications list these products as “the best”.
We just want to note that Cloudwards is not owned by a large tech conglomerate. We are a small, independent business that has other small publishing sites on topics such as coffee, travel, and kitchen appliances.
The danger of tech conglomerates owning tech publications
When large parent companies own the technology publication and the technology software that those publications review, reliability becomes murky. It’s unclear to what extent the parent company relies on the post to feature vendors that will benefit the parent company, rather than the people reading the article.
Here are some big conglomerates to watch with skepticism, and some of the subsidiaries they own.
Subsidiaries of Kape Technologies:
Kape Technologies owns Webselenese, a media company that owns review sites VPNMentor and WizCase. It also owns the VPNs: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, Private Internet Access and ZenMate.
Subsidiaries of Ziff Davis
Ziff Davis owns PCMag, IGN and Mashable publications. It also owns IPVanish VPNs, Encrypt.me, StrongVPN and SaferVPN, the latter having merged with StrongVPN.
Ultimately, readers must trust the publications they read. Otherwise, a publication is not a source of information, but a marketing mouthpiece.
Cloudwards has chosen to derive its revenue from affiliate partnerships because we want to ensure that the experience is good and safe for the reader and to maintain our independence from parent companies. We strive to provide reliable reviews and articles you can trust, and we don’t let our affiliate partnerships affect what we write about vendors.
We hope this article has provided more clarity on how Cloudwards generates revenue and why we chose the affiliate partnership model. However, we would like to know what you think of the different ways in which publications keep themselves afloat and the conflicts of interest that could arise. As always, thanks for reading.