DealMaker SydneyEarlier this month, Rakuten Marketing hosted our seventh annual DealMaker Sydney at the Four Seasons. Over 300 marketing, retail and e-commerce professionals joined us for a day of thought-provoking content, actionable insights and networking.

Jeff Wender, CRO at Rakuten Marketing kicked the day off with an update on the Rakuten Marketing business. Over the past twelve months, we’ve driven US$1.2billion in publisher commissions globally through orders made vial the Rakuten Marketing Affiliate Network. Digging into the data, Jeff revealed that as a network we have led consumers to purchase 38,000 pairs of high heels; 46,000 vacations; 1,000 fishing expeditions; 800,000 computers, which were no doubt used to buy holidays and heels; and 233,000 unicorn related items.

We’re in a unique position to do this because we understand consumers. And speaking of understanding consumers, Jeff closed his remarks by launching The 2019 State of e-Commerce, Asia-Pacific report. The report examines the purchase behaviours of 4,500 consumers throughout the Asia-Pacific region, looking closely at how consumers are shopping, what they’re buying, and how they’re engaging with brands.

Consumer expectations are evolving at a faster rate than ever before. This change means that companies no longer have one single competitor, they have three. Nick Fletcher, UK Country Manager at Rakuten Marketing, spoke to attendees about changing consumer expectations and the three types of competitors:

  1. Direct Competitors who sell similar products and services
  2. Experiential competitors who sell an experience like Hello Fresh or restaurant’s
  3. Perceptual competitors who don’t necessarily operate in the same industry, but are changing consumer expectations about customer services, in turn, causing everyone else to up their game.

Consumers are now placing as great an emphasis on the customer experience as they are on the product itself. Nick spoke about how AI and personalisation are the tools advertisers have at their disposal to tackle changing expectations and how Rakuten Marketing is uniquely positioned to provide these tools to advertisers and publishers.

DealMaker Sydney O2O Panel

This idea of changing consumer expectations fed into our first panel “Tackling the blind spot – Connecting Online and Offline Opportunities”. Consumers now expect a seamless experience regardless of how or where they shop, and the Online-to-Offline (O2O) space is increasingly growing.

Cameron Lawson from Forever New highlighted that there are still consumers who want to go in-store, to touch something, to try it on and have the full in-store experience, yet, people also love shopping online for the rewards they receive, i.e. cashback.  This point was reiterated by Shopback Australia’s Country Manager, Angus Muffet who leaned on his learnings from the mobile first Asia market “what really hits me in the face when I go to Singapore (besides the humidity), is the way rewards and points are part of the way of life over there.”

The O2O space is not without its challenges, though. Many advertisers still view the online and offline channels in silos, with budgets sitting with different teams. Executive Chairman of Plastiq.it and Australian Shark Tank investor Andrew Banks commented on the space explaining “it’s where the old world meets the new, to make a 360-degree view of the customer, whether it’s online or offline.”

After a break in content where attendees participated in bespoke 1:1 networking opportunities, roundtables, the first of the famous Rakuten DealSpace sessions and of course a quick feed we were back for our second panel of the day.

DealMaker Sydney - Digital Industry Panel

The digital industry is fast-paced and evolving rapidly, our panel “The Digital Maelstrom – Change, Challenges and Innovations” spoke to industry leaders about the changing tides and emerging trends.

On the topic of transparency, Chi Lo, Director of Client Services at The Trade Desk commented that at The Trade Desk they love transparency, their view is “fraud does happen, so we need to work with companies to force transparency, many companies are happy to bury their head in the sand.” This was a sentiment felt by other panellists who agreed that regardless of whether you’re a buy-side platform, a retailer or influencer network, transparency is an issue that isn’t going anywhere.

When asked whether Australia was heading for an advertising recession, Lorna Jane’s Digital Marketing Manager Emma Caldicott explained how the company is investing in digital and shifting marketing dollars. Kim Westwood, Founder and CEO of Shopping Links, added “Influencer marketing is growing hugely, and ad spend is up. Australia has always been a little behind when spending on influencers, but I do see this shifting. It ultimately comes back to measuring performance, other markets have been more experimental in tracking the performance of influencers, but I think Aussie advertisers will bypass the experimental stage and jump straight to experimenting with the performance of influencers.”

Of course, it wouldn’t be a digital event if we didn’t ask our experts about the recent ACCC recommendations. Our panellist agreed that it will be incredibly complex to place regulations on a mostly self-regulated industry, but that more regulation has to be better for the open internet. Josh McDonnell, Senior Journalist from AdNews, summed it nicely, “The way I see it, the ACCC digital inquiry report is still at the stage similar to when your mum gives you your first warning when you’re in trouble.”

In addition to our panel sessions, DealMaker played host to two keynote sessions. The first was David Watson, VP of Product at Spartan. The core objective of Spartan is to pull people out of their comfort zones. To empower them to overcome life obstacles, both physical and mental. David spoke about the success Spartan has had in building a global community through authentic storytelling and giving customers a sense of identity that makes them feel part of a tribe. And it’s working, David revealed there are over 20,000 people with the Spartan logo tattooed on their bodies.

Our final speaker of the day was Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychologist Joel Pearson. Speaking on Measuring the Immeasurable: how recent advances in science will change advertising, marketing and sales, Joel explored the latest advancements in the neuroscience behind advertising and how brands can master the art of storytelling. The key to being successful, measurement. Brands need to test, be agile and test and experiment. Measuring the results is key to delivering results.

After a jammed packed day of content, it was time for the bar to open and the networking to continue. Our sponsors did a phenomenal job in the DealSpace room, Student Beans had a relaxation corner with bean bags, Boohoo Group and The ICONIC had clothes on display and the Honey claw machine, and Cashrewards cash grab machine saw attendees get competitive with each other.

DealMaker Sydney - DealSpace area

The Golden Link Awards were held before we finally made our way to the Rawson to dance the night away at the after-party. Rakuten Marketing would like to thank all of our sponsors, speakers and attendees for helping to make DealMaker Sydney such a success.

Rakuten Marketing DealMaker events are held globally if you’re interested in attending visit https://rakutenmarketing.com/en-au/events/ to find out more.