Interview with Adam Weiss: The Man Behind Rakuten Affiliate Network
Adam Weiss is the general manager of Rakuten Affiliate Network and has been with the company in a variety of roles for 13 years. He has led the company to six consecutive #1 placements in the Blue Book Top 20 rankings. We recently caught up with him to find out why Rakuten’s service levels are so universally praised, and how data can help brands drive more business.
Revenue: The Japanese have a word “omotenashi” that represents a culture of service that anticipates the needs of guests or customers. As a Japanese-owned company, how does that kind of culture translate to a Western business like Rakuten Affiliate Network?
Adam Weiss: Our business is built on service, and “omotenashi” is a word and a principle by which we operate. We understand the value of partnerships and everything that we do to move our business forward revolves around improving the affiliate experience for our advertisers and publishers. And this is not something that happens overnight. We have cultivated the best team of people; our executives have been with the company for 7-10 years and the average tenure of an account manager is 3-5 years.
Revenue: Attribution is still the Holy Grail of online marketing. What progress do you think has been made and where will the next improvements come from?
Adam Weiss: Attribution provides a three dimensional view of your affiliate program, allowing brands to take a different approach to optimization, evaluating publishers, and thinking about economics. Advertisers and publishers can benefit from a deeper understanding of how their programs perform at a more granular level, with insights into how different affiliates drive new customers, how publishers influence upper funnel activity, and the impact that influencers have on attributed revenue. Harnessing attribution data can help teams analyze the lifetime value of their customers, gain product level insights and ultimately allow marketers to accurately forecast budgets and return on investment of future spend.
Revenue: Rakuten is known to be very popular with big retailers and clothing companies. What is it about Rakuten that attracts companies in those sectors?
Adam Weiss: One of the differentiators of our network is the richness of our vertical data. Because of the breadth of our clients, not only in retail and fashion, but also in health and beauty, luxury goods, consumer electronics and more, we have the ability to provide valuable benchmark data that can assist our clients in their advertising strategies not only for affiliate, but across other digital marketing channels.
Revenue: What does the international affiliate marketing industry look like to you? Is it healthy? Where are the primary areas of growth?
Adam Weiss: There is definitely a healthy appetite for affiliate marketing internationally. Within our network we can make payments to over 200 countries in 25 currencies. Over the past few years we have placed an emphasis on growing our business in Asia-Pacific and have seen strong results. Recognizing the strength of the region, in particular in China and South Korea, we’re expanding our team to ensure we can continue to drive growth for our clients and publishers.
Revenue: How is Rakuten Affiliate Network going to help publishers make more money and have easier lives in 2017?
Adam Weiss: Our commitment to publishers means that we want to make it easier for all affiliates, whether they are upper funnel or lower funnel, to succeed. Our product suite includes tools such as Automate and Curate which make it easier for publishers to create commission-generating affiliate links and to build beautiful product showcases. We have a major focus on data and how this can be used to revolutionize the channel. The ability to personalize the affiliate experience is also a priority for us, and in building our Affiliate Consumer Graph, we are providing publishers with increased visibility into consumers’ preferences and past shopping behavior, allowing brands to display more relevant offers to consumers.
Revenue: And what about advertisers? Can they make more money and have easier lives in 2017 too?
Adam Weiss: What I love most about affiliate marketing is that it allows brands to get their message out to a targeted audience, faster than any digital or offline advertising mechanism. Affiliate offers the immediacy of reach and voice, and it is because of this distribution that advertisers can rely on the channel. For Rakuten Affiliate Network, it is our emphasis on service, technology and insights that contribute to driving better performance, which will make our customers’ lives easier.
About Adam Weiss
Adam Weiss is the General Manager for Rakuten Affiliate Network (formerly LinkShare). Adam is responsible for the overall strategic direction and P&L ownership of the affiliate business. Having joined the company in 2003, Adam has held multiple roles within Rakuten Affiliate Network. Prior to that time, he worked in publisher-facing positions at About.com and 24/7 Media.
Rakuten Affiliate Network
Six-time winner of the BLUE BOOK #1 ranking as best CPS network in the world, Rakuten Affiliate Network is one of the only affiliate marketing networks to facilitate long-term, profitable partnerships between advertisers and publishers. Rakuten’s network of publishers is select and global.
Advertisers and publishers responding to the BLUE BOOK survey consistently praise Rakuten Affiliate Network’s technology platform, making campaigns easy to set up and simple to run. As the network is part of Rakuten Marketing, advertisers have access to an entire suite of omnichannel tools, cross-channel data and insights to make smarter decisions.
Parent Company: Rakuten Marketing
Core Services: Affiliate, search, mobile, lead generation, display and attribution
Mission: Traveling an ever-expanding technological landscape, today’s consumer has no borders. This makes it an especially exciting time for brands. That’s why our mission is to empower clients with solutions that go beyond the expected, from superior service and technology to consumer-centric insights that drive better results. This means offering real-time insight into campaign performance across multiple channels and devices. It means maintaining a bird’s eye view of purchasing paths. And it means discovering new opportunities to facilitate global expansion.
Global Parent: Rakuten Group
Rakuten Group is one of the world’s leading internet service companies, providing a variety of consumer and business-focused services including e-commerce, e-reading, travel, banking, securities, credit card, e-money, portal and media, online marketing and professional sports. Rakuten is expanding globally and currently has operations throughout Asia, Western Europe, and the Americas. Founded in 1997, Rakuten is headquartered in Tokyo, with over 10,000 employees and partner staff worldwide.