TechBytes with Abi Jacks, Senior Director of Marketing, Europe, at Rakuten Marketing

TechBytes with Abi Jacks, Senior Director, Marketing, Europe at Rakuten Marketing

Tell us about your role and the team/technology you handle at Rakuten Marketing.

I am the Senior Director, Marketing for our European region which involves working with leadership across our European offices to make sure that marketing activity supports new business growth and client revenues. Key to the role and team is the ability to show growth in mature countries within Europe and to efficiently expand into new territories when required. The European team sits across core countries including the UK and Central Europe and works closely with the global marketing tech team on a MarTech stack that includes Marketing Automation, CRM, Marketing Reports and Insights plus Demand Gen.

What are the most ROI-friendly/sales-friendly ad formats that small businesses should focus on?

While 2019 has seen a proliferation of new ‘discovery’ ad formats and native placements that are well worth reviewing, it can be easy to get caught in the hype cycle. It’s important to look at what the business targets are and ensure that you’re selecting ad formats that best suit them.

We would always suggest using a mix though as that provides more opportunity and visibility of a brand across the consumer journey. If you restrict yourself to a single format and focus on say just first or last click metrics, you will miss where your ad could have influenced the sale but then converted elsewhere. Without looking at the full journey you could be wrongly spending budget and not optimizing effectively.

How is Rakuten Marketing transforming the way modern brands do online and Mobile Advertising?

We’re not solely focused on the sales figure – we believe in helping marketers to create experiences that people love. Better experiences demand that marketers put the focus back on the consumer and look beyond antiquated profiles, segments, demographics, and even assumptions about which customers are the best fit.

Savvier consumer prospecting delivers marketers with audiences that they wouldn’t otherwise have found, who not only align with the brand but also demonstrate a propensity to purchase and become loyal customers.

It’s about encouraging advertisers to look across performance, behavior and demographic data to optimize targeting, publisher partnerships, and performance. It does mean often challenging their metrics and their perception of advertising.

How have Rakuten Marketing Technologies evolved in the last 2 years?

The epicenter of the development journey has been the development of a data processing engine that understands audience interests and is predictive so that it can be truly helpful to consumers.

Importantly, the targeting and performance benefits we’re seeing from these AI tools are indebted in a large part to the increasing quality of the data that fuels the decisions it makes and the predictions it models.

Transformation in how advertisers request and capture data as a product of new regulation is a huge boon for us as it should be for the wider industry. Cleaner, compliant data for personalization that can run across different solutions/increasing publisher payments through trying to moving away from last click attribution.

What makes Rakuten Marketing’s European strategy different from other AdTech companies?

It’s all about combining our network pedigree with consumer insight, to drive advertising innovation. Advertising is a pillar of the Rakuten global business, with over 100 data scientists and data engineers dedicated to advertising innovation. Rakuten ecosystem data, for example, represents the most brand-relevant and purchase-ready consumers from over a billion memberships across Rakuten businesses worldwide. This depth of insight into the customer and their preferences is paired with access to the world’s largest affiliate network. Connecting advertisers with publishers across the globe, our network and data give brands the power to reach new audiences and drive repeat purchases.

What are the biggest challenges you face in advertising?

One of the big trends is retailers realizing they need to develop a stronger data strategy. So far we’ve seen plenty of advertisers start to capture as much data, wherever they can because they know it’s important. But now they’re realizing a lot of the data is repetitive and hard to connect.

The challenge they face is in finding the right techniques to sample and summarise the data correctly. The key factor here is real-time data streams because data gets old and the older it is the less value it has.

Advertisers must work out the streams of data that are most relevant to the key performance indicators of the business whether it be merchandise sales, Consumer Engagement or something entirely different.

What is your opinion on Google Advertising versus Microsoft Ads (formerly Bing Ads)?

87% of desktop search takes place using Google, which means the platform still offers unrivaled reach with significant market share. Superior AI lends itself to the wider variety of campaign types/Google products (i.e. Gmail, Youtube, Google Display Network and sub-campaign types within these Google Partners) giving advertisers a real wealth of options when trying to achieve their goals.

While only enjoying 5% of desktop search, the audience Bing has won is a very attractive proposition to markets. More mature and professional than Google’s far wider and more diverse reach, Bing users are likely to have a higher intent to purchase and longer average session duration on sites than Google. This ‘quantity over quality’ offer works nicely for B2B lead generation marketers especially.

What is your prediction on the disruptive application of AI-solutions in Video and Social Media advertising campaigns?

With users now spending one-third of their time online watching videos, the proportion of ads to content can become a nuisance if they aren’t relevant. While personalized video ads may still be on the horizon for most brands, as more companies see the evidence of tailored video content leading to much higher levels of engagement, you’ll see a lot more of it in the future.

Across all digital channels, generic marketing content is sure to decrease due to the level of customization that AI marketing offers, which is only bound to evolve and grow. Over the next few years, AI data is likely to offer the potential for hyper-personalization in video marketing that customers will love.

Abi Jacks leads the UK marketing function and strategy for Rakuten Marketing, which involves working with affiliate, display and attribution solution heads to ensure the needs of each solution are met.

Jacks joined Rakuten Marketing from The Eventa Group, a travel and events brand where she acted as head of marketing. She is also a founder of the Brighton Digital Marketing Festival.

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Rakuten Marketing uses innovative, data-driven technology to help brands reach consumers with timely and authentic digital advertising experiences. Pioneering AI and machine learning, paired with unique data and inventory from the Rakuten ecosystem, enable brands to identify new audiences and re-engage existing ones. This predictive technology allows Rakuten Marketing to deliver valuable experiences people love, resulting in cost-effective performance across its integrated marketing solutions: affiliate, display and search.

Rakuten Marketing is a division of Rakuten Inc. (4755: TOKYO), one of the world’s leading Internet service companies. The company is headquartered in San Mateo, California, with offices in Australia, Singapore, Brazil, Japan, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and throughout the United States.

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