Rakuten Symposium summary

By Matt Brown | 07 Apr 2018

We were kindly invited by Rakuten to its recent Rakuten Symposium, which took place at The Brewery in London on 18th April. At face value, it's an event for publishers and advertisers to press flesh, and listen to some inspirational, thought-provoking talks from industry luminaries.

The three pillars of customer engagement

I made it through registration just in time to catch the keynote, presented by Peter Fisk, author of Gamechangers, which covered the three pillars of customer engagement. The first pillar, 'engage', is made up of delivering value in a fun way - Peter used Brooklyn Superhero Supply to illustrate this point, and I encourage you to explore its fabulous website and product range. The second pillar is 'enrich', which is best exemplified by the Supreme brand, which has its customer base as the product, rather than the brand itself. Finally, the third pillar is 'enable', which involves the brand offering human experiences and valuable touch points, much like how Harley Davidson does, as it ultimately enables everyday people to go on biking adventures with their friends at the weekend.

The value of patterns

After a caffeine top up, I sat in on a very interesting talk by James Chandler, CMO at the IAB UK, entitled "Understanding the past to create a better future". He began by talking about how we can get overwhelmed by numbers, and how patterns can be as, if not more, important than numbers.  As an example, he pointed out that globally, the number of wearable tech devices stands at 310 million - digging into the numbers further, it transpires that 48% of these are Bluetooth headsets. He then illustrated his five-point mantra:

  1. Patterns are usually more interesting than raw numbers, highlighting the difference between exponential growth and linear growth, and in terms of measurement, he noted that we need to stop considering click-through rate (CTR) in isolation, as it's just an indicator
  2. Great work doesn't have a shelf life (Eyes on the Road, Volkswagen 2014)
  3. It's OK not to get it right first time (Google Glass 2013 vs Snap Spectacles 2018)
  4. The art of storytelling won't change, but the spaces will (ASPCA YouTube pre-roll)
  5. Beware of the shiny and the new, lots of the old stuff still works really well

You can view a summary of James' deck here.

Global expansion

Later on, I sat in the Global Expansion session, gaining some fascinating insights on how to drive affiliate-generated revenue from APAC markets, which saw approximately £600 million driven through Rakuten's affiliate network in 2017. I'm particularly interested in how we can enable growth strategies in China, so listening to insights from Alex Hart from 55Haitao was particularly enlightening.

Overall, it was a very interesting and insightful event that gave me the opportunity to engage with some new affiliates for our clients, and one which I look forward to attending again.