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viglink logoAffiliate programs, where a content site can link to a commerce site like Amazon and eBay and receive a commission on resulting sales, are potentially a big source of money for content publishers.

But they can also be pain to set up, meaning that many sites that might benefit from affiliate links don’t use them. And when they do use links, more than half the time they aren’t even encoded correctly, according to VigLink, a startup hoping to change that.

The San Francisco company wants to automate the process of creating affiliate links. It’s making its own deals with many affiliate programs, then it offers content sites a service where they just add a few lines of JavaScript to their site, then all possible affiliate links are automatically transformed into actual affiliate links. For example, if VentureBeat linked to a book listed on Amazon, that could automatically become a link where we get a commission every time a reader clicks through and buys the book.

VigLink just announced $800,000 in seed funding raised from First Round Capital and Google Ventures as well as prominent individual investors including LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, former Google executive and current LinkedIn Vice President of Product Dipchand Nishar, Niel Robertson, Hadi Partovi, Ali Partovi, Carlos Cashman, and Micah Adler.

Co-founder and chief executive Oliver Roup acknowledged that VigLink isn’t the first company to offer something like this — it’s competing with a London startup called SkimLinks. But Roup argued that there are some key differences, such as VigLink’s Silicon Valley location and connections, plus the fact that content publishers don’t suffer if VigLink’s infrastructure goes through the occasional startup hiccups — if the company’s servers go down, its links still work.

Roup compares the service to Google AdSense, in that it can be a good fit for both large and small websites. For now, VigLink is in private testing, but interested content sites can also get an estimate from the company’s web site of how much money they might make from affiliate programs. For kicks, I entered, and it turns out we aren’t talking about a huge boost in our income — this month’s estimated VigLink revenue would have just about paid for my recent trip to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show. But hey, if the service is as hassle-free as Roup says, why wouldn’t we install it and make that extra cash?

“We monetize the ordinary hyperlink,” Roup said. “By buying and selling small items that didn’t seem to be worth a lot initially, we could create a real link economy here.”

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