Rakuten acquires Deep Forest to bolster mobile marketing

Omni-channel marketing vendor says the new mobile performance capabilities will allow brands to build better customer journeys

Rakuten Marketing has acquired mobile marketing company, Deep Forest Media, and its demand-side platform in a bid to propel its omni-channel capabilities.

Rakuten said the combination of Deep Forest’s cross-device algorithm and its own consumer data will help brands improve their mobile advertising reach and accuracy. The Deep Forest technology allows advertisers to personalise mobile campaigns with hyper-local targeting, user segmentation across multiple devices and creative optimisation, and has a broad reach across leading networks and ad exchanges.

“Rakuten Marketing has a bold, customer-centric vision for the future of omni-channel marketing and we could not have found a better home for our team and technology,” Deep Forest founder and CEO, Naghi Prasad, said. “With the synergies between our technologies and Rakuten data, we are poised to have the kind of impact on the market that will change the way we think about the consumer journey and how to optimise it.”

Rakuten will now integrate its consumer data with Deep Forest’s probabilistic cross-device algorithm. Through this method, the company claims it increases the precision for performance and optimisation across the marketing funnel, leveraging the consumer path to purchase across channels and devices.

With mobile commerce projected to reach $298 billion in 2015, Rakuten Marketing president, Tony Zito, said the company wanted to invest in bringing strong mobile capabilities into the mix.

“A critical part of that is integrating cross-device engagement and conversion data into our proprietary attribution solutions to reinforce and expand our commitment to performance and transparency,” he said.

Rakuten Marketing MD, Anthony Capano, told CMO the acquisition improves its ability to understand the entire customer journey. This is particularly pressing as mobile continues to increase its market penetration both in terms of usage and influence on customer conversion, he said.

“Deep Forest joining our family enables us to provide mobile and cross-device capabilities, which are becoming more and more prevalent in this market and globally,” he said. "We see this as advancing our suite of products, certainly from a mobile perspective, and enabling our clients to see the overall customer journey.”

Capano said one of industries Rakuten has seen the most obvious advancements around mobile targeting is retail, especially those with a brick-and-mortar presence.

“Through Deep Forest, we can deliver hyper-local targeting around their stores,” he said. “But with the ability to create dynamic ads, it really is appealing to all industry categories.”

In terms of complexity and challenges, Capano said the tech integration was largely straightforward and pointed out Deep Forest already taps into very large advertising networks.

“It will also give us a new level of transparency in terms of which sources are performing better for clients,” he added. “That’s really a theme of ours - to ensure all of our clients have complete transparency in their customer journey."

Rakuten Marketing is the omni-channel division of Rakuten focusing on the performance marketing realm, affiliate marketing, display and re-targeting.

The company rolled out its multi-channel attribution solution following the acquisition of DC Storm last September, and also launched beta trials of its omni-experience attribution tool, Cadence Essential, in February.

Rakuten also acquired instant messenger app, Viber, for US$900m last year.

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