Rakuten Linkshare kick started its Symposium 2012 London event with a welcoming presentation from its senior executives. Yaz Iida, Liane Dietrich and Mark Haviland were all on-hand to discuss a restructuring of their roles aimed at helping the company’s growth strategy. Haviland has been promoted from Chief Commercial Officer to Rakuten Linkshare Managing Director and Dietrich has been bumped up to Chief Operating Officer from Managing Director.
Next to the stage was Mark Kirschner, the company’s Vice Chief Marketing Officer/Executive Officer, with his keynote, ‘Think Forward’. Kirschner gave the audience a sneak peak of its Ubira concept. The purpose of Ubira is to synchronise online and offline retail. Price comparison sites were the target audience in what was touted by Rakuten Linkshare as being its, “vision of how brick and mortar can compete on a level playing field with online”.
A time for networking
The first of two dealmaker sessions then commenced, which Rakuten Linkshare hoped would provide the platform for advertisers and publishers to forge winning and profitable partnerships. The session gave those new to the game a chance to put a face to potential online partners and also the more seasoned marketers the opportunity to rekindle old or dwindling business relationships.
After a sustenance break for all Symposium attendees there was a brief industry spotlight session from Give as You Live. The concept was hatched by online fundraiser, Everyclick, and gives shoppers the chance to turn the money they spend into a free donation for any UK cause. It works by converting affiliate commissions into a personalised loyalty programme capable of connecting brands with a shopper’s favourite causes.
Hotwire’s UK Group MD, Drew Benvie, then took to the stage where he spoke about some of 2012’s top social trends. The trends made up part of paper titled, ‘Ten Driving Forces in Digital Marketing’, which alluded to 2012 as being the year social media is industrialised, commoditised and mainstreamed.
Along with the usual suspects like cashless payments and tablets, some more interesting predictions were made. Benvie spoke of how TV and music will be completely socialised, something that’s fairly prevalent even now. How often do you see a hashtag appearing in the title sequence of a hit television show? He finished with a more blue sky thought of how cars are a mobile device and it won’t be long before you’ll be able to download apps to expand the functionality of your dashboard.
The last speaker of the day was easily the most topical. Liz Robertson, a lawyer from Jones Day, had been given the thirty minutes to describe the E-Privacy Directive with a focus on consenting cookies. Not an easy subject to cover, especially given the time limit, yet she successfully manage to dictate to attendees what they should be doing in a language that couldn’t only be understood by those with a thorough grounding in legal affairs.
Robertson pulled no punches when stating that there is still much to be done in the UK when it came to compliance. She even divulged that the ICO may soon be looking for a scalp if the landscape doesn’t improve. The main thing to take away from the session, for affiliates and brands alike, is to be seen as working towards compliance, don’t ignore it until it’s too late!
Once Robertson was finished it was time for the second dealmaker session and a chance to mingle with the various agencies, brands, publishers and technology providers who were exhibiting. The afternoon was a must for anybody looking for business in the luxury women’s retail vertical for the affiliate space.
The day closed with a raffle of various women’s fashion items that A4u’s sad to report it came away from empty-handed.