Rakuten Marketing chalks up rapid Aussie digital advertising growth

Ad technology and services company list raft of new retail customers including Big W, Coles, Lorna Jane and Vinomofo

Display and retargeting ad services at Rakuten Marketing have grown by nearly 50 per cent over the last 12 months, while attribution is expected to be the big winner in 2016, the company claims.

According to the ad technology company’s latest financial update, the affiliate marketing business recorded same store growth of 47 per cent in the 12 months to June 2015, buoyed by its work with Australian online retailer, Appliances Online. The display arm, incorporating retargeting, also chalked up the fastest growth in the past 12 months at almost 50 per cent.

Overall, Rakuten claims to have tripled its Australian operations year-on-year, signing up a raft of new customers including Coles, Lorna Jane, Vinomofo, SurfSitch and Big W.

Rakuten Marketing’s Australian managing director, Anthony Capano, attributed interest in its services to market maturity and a growing number of brands looking to invest in performance-based marketing channels. The company has been in the local market for three years.

“These are delivering a certain ROI, which is why affiliate and performance marketing is resonating,” he told CMO .

It’s this same maturity that Capano believed was behind strong growth in Rakuten’s recently launched attribution offering. This launched off the back of its acquisition of UK-based firm, DC Storm, in 2014, and is aimed at helping brands better understand the customer path to purchase. This is achieved by looking at all customer touchpoints online and offline with a brand, and that have led to a conversion, sale or other non-transactional outcome.

Rakuten’s attribution business grew by almost a third over the past year, with a 95 per cent client retention rate. Brands that signed up in the last 12 months include UGG Australia and Hilton Worldwide.

“While we’re seeing demand for all of our services grow in Australia as brands become more digitally focused, attribution is the service we expect to boom over the next 12 months,” Capano commented.He put this down not only to the advertising ecosystem’s growing complexity in terms of online channel options, but also the desire to better understand the impact of traditional media and offline.

“A lot of marketers understand their channels very well and optimise these well, but there are efficiencies to be had when you look at all channels,” Capano said.

“Marketers are demanding a single view of ad performance across all channels. As businesses turn to performance-based marketing, transparency is vital to see how all those channels work together. There is an appetite to understand how all customer touchpoints lead to purchase or in-store visits, for example.”

To highlight the strength of the digital advertising opportunity in Australia, the company also pointed to eConsultancy figures that show Australia as the fourth-largest market globally for digital ad spend, with 43 per cent of all ad dollars now heading into online channels.

Rakuten has been working to an ambitious agenda to build out its digital advertising services, and made a number of acquisitions recently to expand its offering. The most recent was mobile marketing company, Deep Forest Media and its demand-side platform, aimed at improve mobile consumer targeting reach and accuracy. Other purchases include messaging app, Viber, for US$900 million, bought by Rakuten Marketing's parent company, Rakuten.

In the next 12 months, Capano said the company will continue to invest in new technologies, but he also saw the attribution business as the “glue” holding all of its channel services together.

“We can have a lot more educated, in-depth discussion around marketing challenges that go beyond just the [digital] channels we have services in,” he added.

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