Marketing Strategies

2020 New Year’s Resolutions for Affiliate, Display, Search and Publishers

The start of a new year brings with it a blank slate both personally and professionally. Now that you’re back and recharged after the holidays, it’s the perfect time to give your marketing strategies a refresh. With that in mind, we asked our experts for some tips on 2020 New Year’s resolutions for Affiliate, Display, […]

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2020 marketing resolutions, affilate marketing strategies

The start of a new year brings with it a blank slate both personally and professionally. Now that you’re back and recharged after the holidays, it’s the perfect time to give your marketing strategies a refresh. With that in mind, we asked our experts for some tips on 2020 New Year’s resolutions for Affiliate, Display, Search, and publishers that channel managers should aspire to check off in the new year.

2020 New Year’s Resolutions for Affiliate Marketers

By Katie England

Review your commission rates

Yes, including your baseline rate. Do a deep dive into historical publisher performance and take a look at competitive benchmarking to see which rates make sense and which should be changed. Evaluate what exposure you’re getting in exchange for increased rates; for example, is one homepage post per month worth an additional 5% commission? If your current rates no longer align with your business goals, explore your dynamic commissioning options, which enable you to offer variable payouts on the transactional elements (customer status, product category, etc.) that are important to you. Plan to review your commission rates regularly to stay competitive and see the best return.

2020 affiliate marketing trendsBook your placements ahead of time

Major shopping holidays don’t actually sneak up on us, but when you get caught up in the day-to-day management of your affiliate program, it can sure feel like it. Take the time to reach out to your top performing partners (and maybe a few new ones) for quarterly placement packages and review them, locking in your placements ahead of time. Take advantage of tools like Rakuten Marketing’s Placements Marketplace, which can make recommendations for high-performing publishers. Booking now will help you secure better exposure, and many publishers will offer a discount for securing a quarterly package. Now, when it feels like Valentine’s Day pops up tomorrow, you’ll be ready.


Catch up with top performers

Affiliate marketing is all about relationships, so you need to show the relationships you have with your top drivers a little TLC. Schedule meetings (potentially at DealMaker 2020 in Scottsdale in February) with your top ten partners to discuss the wins and losses from last year, as well as what they have planned for 2020. Ask them questions regarding their updated demographics, new placement opportunities, and their targeting and personalization capabilities. Use the time to share your business goals and KPIs as well to see where you align. Provide them with your latest creative and promotional calendar. These efforts will foster stronger relationships, which will keep your brand top of mind when they have remnant inventory to fill.

create better content; 2020 digital marketing tipsTest something new

It’s easy to fall into our old patterns, especially when we know they work well, but use the new year to test. Maybe you want to run an incentive campaign to get new partners order active and see who stands out; maybe you want to test a targeted campaign with a top partner to increase market share. Whatever it is you decide to test, be sure to set aside some budget to try out these new strategies early in the year, so that you can incorporate those learnings into your Q4 2020 planning (It’s never too soon to think about Q4.). There are so many cool publishers out there with unique models, innovating in the space; you’re bound to find something that resonates well with your program.

Make the most of the new year, and channel your new year’s resolve into resolutions for the channel. After all, it’s a new year, new you, new affiliate marketing strategy – isn’t that how the saying goes?

2020 New Year’s Resolutions for Affiliate Publishers

By Ivan Pena

2019 was a rollercoaster of a year for affiliates.

GDPR, CCPA and ITP introduced new challenges. There were mammoth acquisitions in the space that further validated the value of affiliate in the ad industry.

In 2020, we can expect more of the same.

Publishers will be at the core of the Rakuten Marketing strategy for 2020, and it is our goal as a company to help publishers position themselves to earn more and build stronger relationships with advertisers. With this in mind, here’s what publishers should resolve to accomplish in 2020:

Get higher commission rates for higher quality traffic from more merchants on all devices

increase return on investment, affiliate marketing roasAdvertisers are always trying to increase return on investment. In a growing number of cases, advertisers are introducing dynamic commissioning to offer higher rewards for their desired audience. Publishers that adapt to the new commissioning rules stand to earn more money than before especially as they hone their personalization and targeting efforts, including mobile and app-to-app tracking.

Publishers should focus on diversifying their partnerships and adapting to new commissioning structures. For this to work, communication between advertisers and publishers is key. Publishers, in turn, should focus on their value proposition to attract a greater number of advertisers that are trying to reach their core audience.

Increase adoption of monetization and personalization tools

Publishers can position themselves to earn more in the long run by aligning with advertiser goals and refining how they promote individual advertisers. By implementing new monetization tools, publishers stand to leverage data more efficiently to make better decisions. In January, be sure to reach out to learn about dynamic ads, APIs, mobile tracking and Placements Marketplace. These are all monetization and personalization tools publishers can use today. If you want to learn more, search our Help Center and be sure to come to one of our upcoming webinars or let’s meet at Dealmaker Scottsdale. All our publisher tools are designed to improve performance and earn publishers higher earnings per click (EPCs).

Faster onboarding of new partnerships

Matchmaking algorithms have revolutionized how we interact with technology in insurance, travel and even dating. In 2020, matchmaking will be at the core of everything Rakuten Marketing does. Leveraging our data science team, matchmaking is designed to encourage advertisers to recruit new publishers, based on data and vertical benchmarks. Publishers that might otherwise fly under the radar will be brought to the forefront.

For matchmaking to work, clear collaboration is crucial to get a program onboarded efficiently. Also, given how quickly the landscape can change, advertisers have the opportunity to tap into new and improved publisher models. Take time to review your publisher screening criteria and then shift from making decision on the FACE of the publisher (what the site looks like, the brands they promote, not “on brand” enough) to the PERSONA of the publishers (the traffic they attract, reach of paid placements) and the AUDIENCE (shoppers with shortest purchasing journeys) they command.

2020 New Year’s Resolutions for Search Marketers

By Briana Rittersporn

Get personal

We have more information on consumers than we have ever had before, which gives us a clearer picture of how to serve up the most relevant content to the most interested audiences.

Some ideas for how we can utilize what we know about consumers to make your PPC campaigns more personalized:

  • Customize messaging using different campaign targeting options or via the IF function ad option
  • Using available signals to target & bid in order to capture consumers with a higher propensity to convert

Adopt new ad formats

discover new ad formatsAlong the lines of getting personal with our messaging, we also need to embrace all the new ways we can get our message in front of consumers. Remember when Google took away the Standard Text Ad and pushed us all to adopt Expanded Text Ads? The time has come to start adopting newer ad formats and gaining historical data with them because if history has taught us anything, it is that what we have once loved will soon be lost. As Google and Bing introduce new ad formats, they historically have sunset older products.




Responsive Search Ads offer some messaging control mixed with machine learning to piece together ads that are designed to generate more clicks and conversions. There are also several other new ad types currently in beta to try out in 2020. Some examples:


shoppable ads

Test and Re-test

I know this topic feels like a broken record. I am all too familiar with phrases like, “Always be testing!” and, “Never stop learning!” The reason we hear these a lot in the Marketing and Advertising world is simple – they are 100% words to live by!

What you have tried and failed at before deserves a second chance.

  • Did you attempt to use the Target Return on Ad Spend (tROAS) bid strategy in the past and had performance flop?
  • Or perhaps you found that Target Cost Per Acquisition (tCPA) bidding didn’t work as well as you had hoped?
  • Has the lack of control in Smart Shopping Campaigns prevented you or your client from testing out this campaign type?
  • Have you used manual bidding forever and the idea of trying automated bidding is truly unthinkable?

The truth is that you’re smarter now and so are these bidding algorithms. Google and Bing are both constantly updating these products to perform better than ever. Try testing in early 2020 and you might just be surprised at what happens this time around. What’s new-to-you may be scary to try, but you’ll never know what goodness can come if you don’t take the leap of faith.

Muster up the courage to try something different in your accounts that you’ve never done before, especially if it involves a machine-learning aspect like the examples above. While losing levers is scary, you’re gaining the benefit of MILLIONS of signals analyzed within seconds to make decisions that best fit your brand. It’ll free up more of your time to optimize and strategize. Test it out–it could truly be a win-win situation.

2020 New Year’s Resolutions for Display Advertisers

By Peggy Housset

Make better use of Dynamic Creative Optimization (DCO)

Dynamic Creative Optimization (DCO) ads help advertisers showcase the right product to the right person by leveraging machine-learning algorithms that showcase products in display ads that share similar characteristics to one that a shopper recently viewed.

There are three main reasons why you should resolve to implement the DCO in your display ad retargeting strategy:

  1. It’s free: Creative development can cause campaign costs to skyrocket for clients, leading to lower returns on ad spend. With Rakuten Marketing, you can use or add DCO ads to your retargeting strategy at no additional cost.
  2. Scale your creatives: By using almost 100 DCO templates, you will easily boost reach and volume to drive performance while enjoying all display, mobile and native inventories.
  3. Increased ROI:  We noticed a 50% increase in CTR and a 100% increase in post-click return on ad spend by using DCO

Integrate CRM data to better engage with customers

how to utilize CRM dataCustomer Relationship Management (CRM) tools help a company manage its interactions with current and potential customers. It uses data analysis about customer’s history with a company to improve business relationships, specifically focusing on customer retention and ultimately driving sales growth. By using CRM integration, you can create different segmentation strategies such as tailoring strategies for new customers, returning customers, reactivating customers, or purchasers of high volume or high-value items.

How can you use your CRM data with Rakuten Marketing?

  1. Consumer Graph: CRM data would provide information to determine the value of a specific user, so that the publisher can show them the most appropriate or advantageous offer.
  2. Publisher Insights Report provides insights on publishers driving highest-value users, segments etc.
  3. Dynamic Commissioning allows you to pay out differently depending on the consumer’s segment.
  4. Display Prospecting: CRM Data can be used as a seed for prospecting audience creation
  5. Display Retargeting: You can easily exclude one segment (returning customers for instance) in your retargeting strategy or boost the volume on the most engaged one.

One thing ALL digital marketers should be doing regardless of their area of focus:

Find micro peaks and capitalize on them

Many companies rely heavily on Q4 or Cyber Week to generate the bulk of the revenue for the year. But what if it doesn’t have to be that way?

While having continuous revenue growth day in and day out is a bit unrealistic, there is a way to generate more leads and sales outside of the last few months of the year. Market to these micro peaks – periods of time throughout the year where marketers can drive additional revenue via sales around holidays or events that are NOT Cyber Week.

Smaller shopping holidays such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Memorial Day Weekend, Independence Day, and Labor Day Weekend can be excellent times to push promotions aimed at driving additional interest. Other opportunities can include semi-annual sales and running mid-summer sales to counter the new behemoth to enter the online sales world for retailers: Prime Day. Planning for and treating these micro peaks as we treat Cyber Week can help generate more leads and sales outside of the busiest time of year.

Setting resolutions and keeping track of them is a great way for you to set yourself up for professional success in the New Year. Reach out to us if you’re ready to get started.

This blog was written by a team of experts from Rakuten Marketing. Their bio’s can be found below:

Katie England has been with Rakuten Marketing for over 5 years, and she is currently working as a Manager, Strategic Services. In this role, she consults with current and prospective clients on how to make the most of our product suite. She is based out of Tampa, FL, though likes to spend her free time traveling (or planning her next trip). When she’s at home, you can find her hanging out with her husband and two dogs.
Ivan Pena is a Senior Director on the Rakuten Marketing Product Adoption team. He focuses on providing global publisher teams the information, training and support they need to help publishers understand the Rakuten Marketing product roadmap and how it impacts them. He has been with Rakuten Marketing since 2013 and is based in Tampa, Florida.
Briana Rittersporn joined the Rakuten Marketing team in July 2019 as a Paid Search Account Manager with five years of experience in the digital marketing industry. Tampa, Florida, is home; however more often than not she’s battling I4 traffic to visit Disney World in Orlando. On the rare occasion she’s not enjoying “The Most Magical Place On Earth”, you will find her exploring local craft breweries with her husband or snuggling her newly rescued greyhound.
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