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Rakuten Marketing Spotlight


Rakuten Marketing is the global leader in integrated marketing solutions, specialising in affiliate marketing, programmatic display advertising and paid search. The company’s mission is to empower marketers to achieve the full potential of digital marketing through delivery of data-driven, personalised ad experiences that engage customers across multiple devices, screens, platforms, inventory sources and publishers, ultimately influencing those customers to purchase.

Rakuten Marketing is committed to transparency, using attributed measurement to understand how campaigns are performing, providing consumer journey insights to continually optimise campaigns and ensuring that client brands are appearing in locations where they want to be seen. This transparency forms a key ethos underpinning Rakuten Marketing’s work.

“AI is at the forefront of marketing technology and will be required increasingly by the marketing industry”


In early 2017, P&G Chief Brand Officer, Marc Pritchard, called on the industry to “clean up the media supply chain”. He believes that greater transparency is needed in display advertising, describing the media supply chain as “murky at best and fraudulent at worst”. He cited a four-part solution which constitutes adopting one viewability standard, implementing accredited third-party measurement verification, getting transparent agency contracts, and preventing ad fraud.

Through real, robust measurement and transparency for advertisers, Rakuten Marketing is already addressing these issues of fraud and brand safety. The company is immersed in digital marketing so keeps abreast of developments, understands trends and how they can be harnessed – bringing its specialist knowledge and expertise to bear on behalf of clients.

As part of Rakuten Inc., one of the world’s leading internet service companies, Rakuten Marketing can help retailers to reach outside of their existing customer base to new consumers who are the right fit for the brand. By looking at existing customer behaviour, campaigns can target consumers who are likely to be interested in a brand’s products, raise brand awareness and help retailers to engage with new audiences.


Digital advertising is underpinned by consumer data but this in itself doesn’t have value unless marketers are able to leverage that data. Rakuten Marketing is using machine learning and artificial intelligence to optimise campaigns based on data from the Rakuten ecosystem. A computer can be on 24/7, optimising to minute detail very quickly, so tasks that need deep data analysis, minor tweaks and a lot of repetition can be handled perfectly by AI. There are tasks though that need human expertise and Rakuten Marketing combines the best of both, with AI and machine learning supporting human expertise in terms of marketing channels, local knowledge across the globe and an understanding of how consumers behave in different markets.

AI will become increasingly important in the industry, making automation scalable. Its prevalence within the digital marketing industry will increase but only where it is beneficial to the different marketing channels. Rakuten Marketing continues to invest heavily in this area in terms of people, acquisitions and technology to keep it at the forefront of artificial intelligence. In fact, it was named by Forbes as one of the top companies globally that is hiring AI talent.


Using data to understand the consumer journey is essential. A last-click wins method to measuring advertising online gives 100% of the credit to the final touchpoint at the end of the purchase funnel. It doesn’t give a true picture of ROI. Many advertisers are moving away from last-click wins and looking at attribution and how the entire marketing mix and multi-touch journey has led to a purchase. While the actual purchase remains important, marketers also need to look at how customers behave post-purchase. All customers aren’t equal. Whereas with one customer the purchase may be a solitary, low-cost connection with the brand, others may go on to be a lifelong customer or brand advocate. The lifetime value, therefore, is important. Understanding the consumer in greater detail such as their likes, needs and wants also helps to position the brand and products to ultimately encourage more sales from the type of people the brand wants to reach and engage.


Rakuten Marketing works with a wide range of advertisers, particularly with lifestyle brands such as those in the luxury fashion, beauty, cosmetics, homewares and high-end travel industries. The company recently branched out into sports marketing through its partnerships with FC Barcelona and NBA basketball team Golden State Warriors. Rakuten Marketing helps to position a brand, creating a message and story around a brand rather than only taking a factual product or discounting approach to connect with consumers. The company has helped some of its luxury retail clients to build their businesses globally and it continues to work with them across multiple markets.


Rakuten Marketing is extremely agile, striving to remain ahead of the curve by being proactive as trends are spotted. For example, the acquisition of attribution company DC Storm in 2014 allowed Rakuten Marketing to move away from the last-click wins model. Rakuten Marketing will continue to operate with a mix of acquisitions and development of its core products and features with internal teams taking advantage of technology such as AI and machine learning to remain at the forefront of advertising technology and the fast-changing industry.


Boxfresh is a British fashion label that creates urban streetwear for modern men. The brand was looking to increase brand awareness, drive repeat business and foster loyalty/brand advocacy in its main markets of Germany and the UK. While the brand featured in brick-and-mortar stores, Boxfresh were struggling with brand awareness as it failed to connect with customers in personal ways. Boxfresh partnered with Rakuten Marketing to reach the above objectives. They sought to use the display channel to attract new customers by communicating Boxfresh’s brand identity boldly and effectively – to align the target consumers’ values and styles and the brand’s ethos. Therefore, the marketing mix served aimed to (re)introduce Boxfresh to the target consumer with the following goals in mind:

-Put Boxfresh’s products front of mind (brand awareness);

-Establish and nurture brand preference (repeat business);

-Create emotional connections between consumers and the brand (loyalty and advocacy).

-A considered and robust media strategy was essential to reach the brand’s target consumer at all relevant touchpoints. Through programmatic advertising, Rakuten Marketing deployed a suite of effective cross-channel, dual-country campaigns which targeted the full purchasing funnel.

In order to communicate the brand’s story and mission, creatives adopted the storytelling technique and featured video assets. The campaigns served presented an engaging, consistent and unified brand experience for the consumer. To reach prospective customers tactics included premium placements, audience-based segmentation, contextual segmentation, lookalike modelling, keyword search and social inventory. Homepage, category and product visitors were retargeted to make them reengage with the brand they considered but abandoned before making a purchase. Then, as the retargeting pool grew, purchasers and cart abandoners were retargeted, ensuring consumers stayed engaged and as a result, increasing brand loyalty.

The partnership between Rakuten Marketing and Boxfresh has yielded great results, outperforming benchmarks (e.g. CTR in Germany was 800% higher than Google’s benchmarks) and delivering healthy ROAS (e.g. £8.31 for retargeting in the UK). Additionally, the programmatic strategy helped shorten the length of converting journeys and had a positive effect on other marketing channels, which converted at a higher rate when run alongside display campaigns (e.g. conversion rates for PPC in the UK grew by 50%).


Global reach: Rakuten Marketing employs over 200 staff in London, Brighton and Paris alone. Rakuten Marketing is a division of Rakuten Inc. (4755: TOKYO), one of the world’s leading internet service companies. With UK offices in London and Brighton, the company is headquartered in San Mateo, California, with additional offices in France, Australia, Brazil, Japan, and throughout the United States. Customers: Rakuten Marketing works with lifestyle brands including Harrods , Net-a-Porter , Matches Fashion , Mr & Mrs Smith, Estée Lauder , Farfetch and Cult Beauty.

For more information about Rakuten Marketing, please visit, telephone 0207 427 8120,

email, tweet @RakutenMKTG_UK or find us on Facebook

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