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Coffee Qs: Ryan Bourne, Rakuten Marketing

Coffee Qs: Ryan Bourne, Rakuten Marketing

PerformanceIN

In this edition of Coffee Qs, Ryan Bourne, account manager at Rakuten Marketing discusses working in the affiliate team, optimising strategies through attribution and what he's most looking forward to this year.

How long have you been in working at Rakuten Marketing?

I’ve been working at Rakuten Marketing for almost two years now! Though I have only been in the affiliate division for a year.

What’s your typical day-to-day is like?

This depends on the day of course but often involves clearing my email inbox in the morning and taking client calls to discuss affiliate activity [sales, traffic, optimisations] throughout the day. I also take part in discussions with the publisher team about new opportunities that I can present to clients in addition to team huddles to discuss industry news, wins and challenges, partnership updates etc.

Often we hold networking events with clients and publishers, so I try to attend them when I can.

You’ve recently moved into working in the affiliate team at Rakuten Marketing – what do you enjoy most about the channel?

I personally think that there is a lot of room for strategic input in the affiliate channel: whether that is using publishers who we know will perform well to drive sales or to push promotions/offers. On the other hand, it’s exciting in terms of taking risks by using new sites and juggling budget where we may not be able to confirm return.

On top of this, affiliate marketing has a lot of room for growth – the industry standard for affiliate share for an e-commerce site is around 5-10% of online revenue. I think affiliate can achieve so much more – and I’m trying to achieve this for my clients.

How has attribution background benefited your move into the affiliate space? How do you use this experience to optimise strategies for your clients?

I think at a top level, having an understanding of digital marketing channels – and how they interplay with one another – helps greatly. On top of this, being able to understand key trends helped me grow in affiliate a lot quicker: i.e. understanding where different publisher groups generally sit in a user journey, etc.

I use this experience with my clients directly through Cadence, Rakuten Marketing’s attribution and measurement platform. It helps me dive deeper into affiliate activity across the whole digital marketing space and there are dashboards that help us position channels with one another.

What do you think are some of the key trends happening right now in the affiliate industry?

I think the importance of cashback and loyalty partners to drive sales and achieve key KPIs (e.g. new customers, high AOV). They’re proving almost incremental to affiliate programmes more so than ever before, which is something some of my brands are having to adapt to. This is especially the case for some fashion brands who I work with, where we are seeing a decline in more established shopping/discovery partners.

On top of this, cashback is very much an established group, but loyalty I think is growing.

And some of the key challenges?

I think right now, GDPR and data protection laws – it’s such an unknown right now for networks and for brands themselves.

What’s been your biggest career highlight so far?

Being promoted to account manager! It’s been something I’ve had my eyes on for a while and have been fortunate to shape my development around this.

I also work on some of our key accounts – which is a highlight in itself.

Outside of the affiliate space, what are your interests and hobbies?

I like to run – a lot. Helps me clear my head, and if I go in the morning it definitely sets me up for the day. Apart from that, I like watching films, socialising with friends, etc.

Three words that best describe you?

Dedicated, sympathetic and personable.  

What would be your top tip for newcomers entering the industry?

Ask questions! All the time! Use your early time to learn as much as possible before you get incredibly busy! I did a couple of online courses when I first joined Rakuten Marketing and I think it really helped me grow here quicker.

Lastly, what are you most looking forward to this year?

Singles Day and Cyber Weekend! We’ve got big targets to hit this year from a strong 2017, and I’m excited to do that.

Outside of work, I have a trip to the US booked, so I am looking forward to that too.

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Mustafa Mirreh

Mustafa Mirreh

In addition to managing editorial on PerformanceIN, Mustafa reports on the latest day-to-day news updates from the world of digital marketing, while also doing social media promotion, live reporting of events, article features and interviewing key industry players and stakeholders.

Based in Bristol, Mustafa graduate with a marketing degree before delving into the world of music journalism through self-starting an online blog and collaborating with other publications. Now he has joined the PI team and has set his sights on succeeding in digital marketing.

Read more from Mustafa

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