Alternatives to affiliate services like Upfeat, Global Savings Group and Savings United

Last updated
May 20, 2024
The content industry watched in awe as major media sites like Forbes and Sports Illustrated removed their coupon pages – in some cases 5,000 of them – to avoid the risk of penalty from an impending Google algorithm update. If you're relying on coupon pages to generate traffic for brands, you have alternatives.

It's been a wild spring in the world of digital content. Google has rolled out a few major updates this year, but the most impactful were the Helpful Content Update, and the parasite manual action campaign which began May 6.

Publishers that rely on massive amounts of content already knew the risk they were taking, which was to use the strength of the main domain to be able to build content that they can monetize, even if it's way outside of their wheelhouse (like... best fertilizers).

The content industry watched in awe as major media sites like Forbes and Sports Illustrated removed their coupon pages – in some cases 5,000 of them – to avoid the risk of penalty from the impending Google algorithm update.

But how much traffic were those pages bringing in, if most major media publishers seemed to have them? Our argument is that you can find more than that lost revenue in other places, and even the traffic if you're savvy about it.

Glen Allsopp is watching the sites that have removed their pages: 

If you're relying on coupon pages to generate traffic for brands, you have alternatives

Traffic is changing because search and behavior are both changing.

The joke in the SEO industry is that someone is always crying out how "SEO is dying", when in reality, it's just morphing. People will always need answers, even if behaviors change, new platforms take market share, and Google is always making big changes. Especially when Google is struggling to smooth out internal leadership issues that are leading to a decline in search quality.

People are no longer "defaulting" to Google, which is why we recommend thinking about your alternatives through the lens of building channels that don't rely entirely on search. Either we see those new channels continue to grow (OpenAI swears they're not building a search engine...), or we get another plot twist and adjust again (TIkTok is a massive economic center in the US... We love it, we hate it).

All we know is that loyalty will depend on practical things: value for the price, customer service on point, and perks.

1. Use a third party affiliate manager

Paylode is a partnerships-as-a-service agency that works with brands and publishers to negotiate and manage coupons on their behalf. The 1000+ brands you get access to in our marketplace are always up to date and vetted, and we always aim for best-of-web or an exclusive. You get the same access to network-sourced deals like from Impact Radius or Commission Junction, and the direct partnerships that our team has worked 20 years in the industry to develop strong relationships with.

So instead of publishing thousands of generic coupon content, you can focus on how to use your best partnerships to create content that does double duty – search, social, and email.

Log in to the platform, grab your desired deal, and insert it into your flows. With our perks API service, our deals are just as connected, tracked, and alive as Upfeat's.

“A perks program through a platform like Paylode means you not only get the benefit of the deal management, but also more opportunities to use the perks to build a returning audience,” says Geo Yuhba, Head of Partnerships at Paylode and a 20-year affiliate career professional.
“Searchers are starting to look for better search alternatives to Google, and with ‘AI Overviews’, brands will need to focus on creating a unique perspective and authentic content on more channels.”

2. Write different content, but better

If you're still willing to invest in coupon content, just make it better, so that you can also attract a branded content sponsorship.

  • Compare trending brands taking over new spaces.
  • Make a funny video for social about Stanley cups.
  • Focus on content that helps with the "where and how" to wear.
  • Don't be afraid to highlight the negative of a brand, and offer an alternative.
  • Make evergreen content that doesn't add to editorial maintenance debt.

3. Do better in general

The top 10 pages in the Google search results for any valuable product that can be purchased online, have been manipulated so much over the years by pay-to-play, that the authentic recommendations are nowhere to be seen.

If you're still aiming to rank some pages on your own, make them worth it and time it right. Include enough non-affiliate links to make the page actually useful to people.

"Every outfit from Drake and Kendrick's beef and where to get it"

"The one air purifier that's not on any lists"

"A printer is a printer is a printer"

4. Scale another channel or kind of content

Perhaps it's not about getting all the pages up just because there's volume. Maybe it's about scaling something else: Your social media accounts, email list, or Youtube. Search isn't limited to Google, and you can make quality content that then demands a branded content payment above and beyond the performance contract.

There are so many AI influencers coming out with their own content and monetization strategies, and they're not even real. How hard can it be for Forbes to do this with something actually relevant, like business clothes?

5. Just get on tiktok already

If your brand is noticeably absent from a huge channel like TikTok, what are you waiting for? You still get the benefit of leveraging your brand, but now you can actually generate a following that will talk about and engage with your content beyond just the last step of their cart checkout.

Similarly, if your company has been waiting to "eat the frog" so to speak, you likely have lower hanging fruit than you think. Address the elephants in the room that you've been avoiding – it might be the plan B you're looking for.

So which of these three will come out the winner?

The affiliate-publisher-tech space is held down by three main companies. The winner will be whichever one can improve their content foundations the most.

Can they actually make high EAT content? Or should they shift this domain strength to something else? Is their primary value in managing the coupons? If you can get the traffic, is that enough to be worth it?

As yourself those questions and more as you try to navigate the next steps.

Global Savings Group

Global Savings Group is an international company specializing in commerce content and affiliate marketing. Founded in 2012, it connects consumers with brands and retailers through various savings portals and cashback programs.

The company operates in over 20 countries, offering coupon and deal sites, cashback platforms like iGraal and Shoop, and browser extensions like Pouch. GSG supports publishers by providing commerce content solutions that allow them to publish general coupon pages at scale​.

Savings United

Savings United partners with premium media companies to create coupon platforms that help shoppers find the best online deals. They combine performance marketing with automatically generated content content, and affiliate link tracking. Operating globally, Savings United offers expertise across multiple regions and sectors, including finance, retail, and travel, driving incremental revenue for advertisers and media partners​.

Upfeat media

Upfeat Media, established in 2015, focuses on enhancing digital publishing through technology. They provide tools and platforms to help publishers increase revenue and audience engagement. Key products include:

  1. UpCoupons: Integrates deals and coupon codes into content to drive engagement.
  2. UpAffiliate: Automates management of affiliate links, optimizing monetization.
  3. UpAnalytics: Consolidates data on traffic, monetization, and engagement for informed decision-making.

Upfeat runs several deal sites like Playpennies, Bargainmoose, Buckscoop, and Momdeals, which cater to specific communities by offering tailored deals and discounts. The company works with various advertisers and brands to reach responsive audiences, leading to significant sales and engagement. Upfeat supports publishers globally, with headquarters in Winnipeg, Canada, and operations in the UK, US, Australia, and France.

About the author
Adrienne Kmetz
Adrienne is a marketing expert with a career history of working in startups of all sizes, from early stage to series A. She has 17+ years of experience writing about business, finance, and entrepreneurship. She went to Colorado College where she majored in skiing.
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