INTRODUCTION AND TERMS
What is traditional advertising?
Traditional advertising is exactly what it sounds like. It’s anything from billboards to logos on the side of a bus, and everything in between. With respect to the internet, traditional advertising generally takes the form of, website banner ads, pop-ups and paid search listings. Basically, somebody owns space that gets a lot of eyeballs on it. Companies pay the space-owner money and the space-owner puts the company’s content on that space, regardless of how the space-owner feels about the company’s content.
Does Dune Road Lifestyle have traditional advertising on it?
NO. Absolutely not. Nope. Never. We wouldn’t dare.
Taking paid advertisements feels a bit like selling ourselves out. A big part of the reason (we hope) you read / follow us is that you trust us to only bring you the best of what’s out there. We’re the gatekeeper, in a way, and unlike the bouncer at your least-favorite club, we’re not about to let a bunch of sketchy old dudes slip us a hundo to get in.
Banner ads are ugly. Pop-ups are annoying. And if we see one more site with some sketchy fake article at the bottom promising “1 Neat Trick for Six-Pack Abs,” we’re going to hurl our laptop off the balcony.
Enough is enough. Spam can go somewhere else. If it’s on our site, we’ve vetted it, we think it’s legit, and it certainly did not buy its way in.
(Also, PSA: if you’re buying your way into the club, just……don’t.)
SPONSORSHIPS & PAID PROMOTIONAL CONTENT
What are sponsorships and paid promotional content?
Let’s get one thing straight, if it hasn’t been made clear already. If we write about something on our Site, we love it, we’ve deemed it worthy, and we’d like you to know about it. However, how it actually comes to pass that we discover a product, engage with it, and perhaps find it exceptional, is something fairly important for you to know about.
For a lot of our content about products, we’ve actually bought the product and used it ourselves, figured we loved it, and wrote it up for presentation to you. We weren’t paid by the brand, nor was the product gifted to us, but maybe the brand will shout us out back on social media, and we might post a link to the product on one of our affiliate marketing partners so we can earn a sales commission if you buy it from them (see the Affiliate Marketing section, below, for more on how that works).
For some of our content, however, we rely on sponsorships and support from brands to be able to review and present the product to you. For example, if we post a review of the brand new Gulfstream G700, we can promise you that we did not just casually up and buy one to review. In cases like that, we might get invited by a company to review their product, and, in some cases, we might ask them to have us review it. (Gulfstream, are you reading this?)
So then, how does the rest of it all work?
Sponsorships are when brands convey value to us in a way that’s other than money. For example, if Gulfstream were to, for whatever reason, gift DRL its own G700, we’d still put it through its paces and see if it’s worth posting about. If we find that it isn’t worth writing up, we might return the product or toss it, depending on what the company wants us to do with it. If we decide to write about it and we keep it, however, it’s not difficult to imagine that one could think our writing is biased in favor of Gulfstream because we’ve just been gifted a brand new plane. We don’t think we’d be biased, but that judgment of our writing and review is for you, the reader, to make on your own, which is why even though Gulfstream hasn’t paid us to write about their G700, we’d still consider it a sponsorship, because they’ve gifted something of value to us and we’re presenting that product to you for your consideration.
Sponsorships can take on a variety of forms. If Tiger Woods wants to fly us out to The Albany (his resort in the Bahamas) for a casual few days of golf, and we wrote it up on here, we would still consider that a sponsorship even though he hasn’t actually given us anything. The gift, there, isn’t a physical thing but it’s still The Albany’s product: i.e., a stay at the resort.
On the other hand, if Ping were to send us a set of irons to try out and send back once we’re through, we wouldn’t count that as a sponsorship because, well, they haven’t given us anything. The product is the set of irons and once we’d reviewed them, we’d have sent them back.
Not all gifts wind up being sponsorships, either. If someone gifts us, say, a bright purple mankini (if you don’t know what that is, Google it if you dare, but warning, it’s going to likely be NSFW), we’d probably send back a polite “Oh thank you, this is lovely,” and proceed to place it in our circular file. Just because we’re gifted something, doesn’t mean we’ll review it, and certainly doesn’t mean we’ll post it. However, if in all seriousness, with most of our gifted samples, if the brand doesn’t want the item back, we try our best to donate it to charity. Organizations like Dress for Success and Career Gear are absolutely wonderful, and there’s a veritable galaxy of others out there that we reach out to whenever we have things they may accept.
Not all of our sponsorships come in the form of gifted samples, however. Let’s say we’re having a party event out east to promote the Site, and Grey Goose provides the vodka free of charge. Now, they haven’t given us the vodka, they gave it to, well, you and all your friends, hopefully. Nevertheless, in doing so, they rendered value to us by providing beverages for our event, and in an advance agreement with them for them doing so, we’d likely promise them some content. Again, we wouldn’t enter into this arrangement with just anyone, but if we find the brand and product worthy, we’ll accept things like event sponsorship in exchange for sponsored content.
The one thing you can be confident we’ll never do is put ourselves in a position where we’re somehow obligated to post content we’re not genuinely thrilled about, whether we’ve been given a private jet, a bottle of vodka, or nothing at all.
Paid Promotional Content
Paid promotional content works very similarly to sponsorships with one notable distinction: we get paid.
“Now, how’s this different from traditional advertising?” you might ask. Simple, really: we make the choices. We won’t do paid promotional content for just anyone. If some crazy guy on a jet-ski offers us five grand to post about his music festival with Ja Rule on Pablo Escobar’s private island, we’d slowly back away and probably call the cops. But if Aston Martin wants to pay us to run a series of posts about the upcoming launch of the DBX, well, we’d have to drive the thing and love it first, but, clearing that hurdle, chances are we’d say yes. The crucial bit is that middle part, “we’d have to drive the thing and love it first.” The Aston Martins and Gulfstreams come up every now and then, but there’s a lot of folks interested in paid promotional content whom we’ve unfortunately had to refuse.
In traditional advertising, barring obscenity or other impropriety, there is no refusal. It’s just all about the money. With us, and the way we run our paid promotional content, everything we do we do because we’re proud to do it. The money is great, but the trust of our readers / followers is worth more. Put simply, we’re acutely aware that once lost, it can’t be bought back, and we’re therefore unwaveringly committed to only taking on paid promotional content that meets the standards you’ve come to expect from us.
What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is pretty simple. We basically pick products we love (and services too, but let’s refer to it all as “product” or “products” for simplicity’s sake), and write about them. When we write about them, we include links to sites where you can purchase the products (think Amazon, Zappos, Net-A-Porter, etc.). The links, generated for us by our partners, contain code that lets the site know that your traffic came to their site from us.
In some cases, the retailer (e.g., Amazon) manages their own affiliate program and handles the generation of the links and tracking of the traffic sent to them via the links. This makes sense because Amazon is both a retailer and a tech company. But, in other cases, the retailer might hire a third-party tech company that specializes in affiliate marketing (like CJ Affiliate, Impact Radius, etc.) to manage the generation of the links and the tracking of traffic for them (e.g., Dick’s Sporting Goods uses Impact Radius). While the links always take you from our Site to the product page on the retailer site, in the cases where the program is managed for the retailer by a third-party company, our partnership may be with the third-party company, with the underlying retailer, or with both. That doesn’t change anything for you, but in the spirit of full transparency, we’re just letting you know.
So, if you click on the link and choose to buy that product, or, in some cases, any product, from the site, we might get a commission from the sale. An easy way to think of this is like a referral fee for the internet age. The purpose of this disclosure statement is, in part, to let you know that we’re letting the retailer know that we sent you to them.
Why does Dune Road Lifestyle participate in affiliate marketing?
Simple: money. It costs money to run Dune Road Lifestyle. And for all the content we publish, you’ll never pay us a dime. There’s no membership fees to access Dune Road Lifestyle, no subscription fees, and maybe best of all, no gross banner ads taking up space on our site. We’re committed to preserving clean aesthetics in everything we put out, and, as mentioned above in our section on Traditional Advertising, brands can’t just buy their way in to get in front of our readers / users (aka, you). But that selectivity in bringing you only what we think is the “best of the best” comes at a cost: we turn away a lot of ad dollars. In fact, we’re probably turning away more in potential ad revenue than we’re making in affiliate commissions, and we’re good with that. We believe in quality over everything, and we’re just trying to make enough to keep things going. So if we can do that, at no cost to you, and without sacrificing our integrity in selecting the brands and products we present to you, tell us, is that really so wrong?
Does Dune Road Lifestyle’s affiliate marketing participation affect what it chooses to post about?
No! Emphatically no. Absolutely, completely, no. Part of the reason we love affiliate marketing is that there’s no incentive for us to promote any particular products. No one’s out there offering us seedy money to promote their trash. We go through the same–and honestly, pretty vicious–selection process with a ton of what’s available and cut it down to only what we feel is worth your time, attention and dollars. And if nothing makes the cut, we don’t post; it’s as simple as that, and that’s why we love it.
Does Dune Road Lifestyle’s affiliate marketing participation cost me anything?
Nope. Not a dime. Whether you went directly to Amazon or Zappos and bought a sick new pair of shades, or you clicked the link from our site to get there and make the purchase, the price you pay is 100% exactly the same. The only difference is, if you clicked the link from DRL to get there, we get to make a little money for referring you. In a way, you can think of clicking on our links as showing us some love and helping us out. If you like our site and find our content useful, clicking on our links when you buy stuff is a 100% free and 1000% meaningful way to show your appreciation. And we’d appreciate it right back!
Which affiliate marketing programs does Dune Road Lifestyle participate in?
We either currently do, or may in the future, participate in affiliate marketing programs with, and may earn sales commission from, the following retailers and affiliate marketing program service providers:
- MR PORTER
- CJ Affiliate
- Impact Radius
This list may be updated from time to time as our partnerships change and grow. Check back often to stay current.
Does this have to do with Cookies? How can I learn more?
What if I have a question about Dune Road Lifestyle’s affiliate marketing participation?
We’d be happy to answer it! Just shoot us an e-mail at email@example.com and you’ll get a response, no issues at all. We’re committed to being fully transparent about all of our marketing activities, and we’d be happy to answer any questions you might have.
LAST UPDATED: 1 APRIL 2020.