Rakuten – owner of affiliate giant Linkshare and the Mediaforge retargeting platform -- is determined to grab a wider share of digital marketing spend. The Japanese ecommerce player has agreed to buy PopShops, a Seattle-based provider of pipes for live product-data feeds.
PopShops is primarily used by affiliate publishers as a means to obtain up-to-the-minute pricing and product data, but Rakuten wants to build out an advertiser revenue model as well.
Approximately 25,000 publishers pay for this service. They include the usual suspects in the affiliate marketing value chain: comparison shopping sites, coupon aggregators and blogs, among others.
We asked Rohinee Mohindroo, president of Rakuten PopShops, for a use case in how an advertiser might leverage the company's live product data.
She said for an advertiser in the fashion vertical, PopShops could help answer questions like, "What types of products are selling in the fashion industry? What strategies make one product sell more than others? What drives conversion?"
"It will be services around data and analytics, and how we can feed that data back to advertisers in terms of improving offers." She added that data variables include pricing, locale, placement and offer type.
Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.
Rakuten bought retargeter MediaForge last year as a complement to its Linkshare affiliate business, and has convinced about 40 clients, including Lancome, to run affiliate and retargeting spend together on its platform.
Future additions to the Rakuten stack will likely come in the areas of social, email, online-to-offline and mobile, Mohindroo said, but she declined to say which was the larger priority.
With its expansion into digital marketing investment outside the affiliate marketing arena, Rakuten is placing itself within a larger competitive set that includes Criteo and Sociomantic. It will also stack up a little better alongside Commission Junction parent ValueClick – its chief rival on the affiliate marketing front.