About Rakuten MediaForge
Rakuten MediaForge is an innovative leader in the online display advertising industry, based in Salt Lake City, UT. Rakuten MediaForge’s award-winning ad platform has transformed online advertising from a static call-to-action to an engaging and personal shopping experience. Between this ad technology and its ability to measure consumer engagement and subsequent site conversions, Rakuten MediaForge has challenged the status quo of online display advertising. This high-performing alternative to clicks and post-impression conversions has attracted a powerful group of satisfied clients, and led to the company’s significant growth.
Rakuten MediaForge was acquired by Rakuten LinkShare in October, 2012. Together they work to create efficiencies between display and affiliate channels, eliminating price overlap for their shared clients.
Rakuten MediaForge Mission
Rakuten MediaForge is dedicated to pioneering products that solve problems for online advertisers. This commitment empowers our success by inspiring innovations that are changing the status-quo of performance-based advertising.
Rakuten MediaForge History
Rakuten MediaForge entered the market in 2006 as a widget company. It made its mark in the technology sector as a resource for musicians, politicians and social media pioneers to disseminate media online. It spurred the popular slogan, “Jack My Widget,” which was an early indication of the playful edginess the company still exudes today. It endearingly calls its employees and clients “mFers.” Short for…mediaFORGErs.
As Rakuten MediaForge was growing into a successful widget company, the online advertising industry was booming. By 2008, it was a $23 billion dollar industry, and display media was among its fastest-growing channels. i The conversation generated by this fast-pacing trend caught the attention of Rakuten MediaForge’s industry-experienced CEO, Tony Zito, and his co-founder, Rhett Frandsen, who envisioned a game-changing iteration of their technology. What they developed was disruptive not only for Rakuten MediaForge, but for the online display advertising industry as a whole.
Prior to 2008, when Rakuten MediaForge entered the display advertising market, online banner ads were static. When an internet user clicked the ad, he/she was taken to the advertiser’s website where they could continue shopping. The ads offered incentives and promotions, serving as a vessel to move users from one stage of the shopping process to the next. Zito and Frandsen saw in Rakuten MediaForge’s technology the opportunity to remove the middleman. With the functional nature of Rakuten MediaForge’s widget technology, they could transform static calls-to-action and turn them into interactive media centers designed to influence consumers through entertainment.
Rakuten MediaForge first developed this vision into a display ad platform in 2008, and began testing its effectiveness in traditional display venues. By 2009, it launched its first interactive, personalized retargeting campaign, wowing advertisers and industry leaders with an ad platform unlike anything they had ever had seen. To explain the technology behind their new ad platform, Rakuten MediaForge came up with yet another slogan – “We Have Widgets Coming Out of Our Ads.”
Rakuten MediaForge had made its mark in the industry as an innovative leader in display media. As the company’s recognition grew, so did its client base, its team and its desire to innovate more meaningful solutions for its clients.
In conversations with clients and prospects, it became clear that attribution was a major pain point for advertisers in all industries. Attributing success by impressions (CPM) gave little insight into the yield of a marketing campaign. Post-impression attribution left advertisers questioning whether the converting consumers they paid for were ever really exposed to their banner ads. Clicks were an easy and familiar performance indicator, but lacked insight into actual added value. Plus, campaigns optimized for clicks narrowed the audience of recipients to consumers who were most likely to click ads – a small subset of online shoppers. Advertisers were frustrated, but left with no alternatives.
This changed when Frandsen, the company’s VP of Sales and Business Development, read an article bylined by an advertiser who asked for a model that only charged for conversions that could be tied to ad interaction. Frandsen and Zito recognized this as a unique opportunity for Rakuten MediaForge to leverage the interactive nature of their ads to build exactly the kind of model the advertiser asked for. The company’s developers went to work building a highly sophisticated technology that could track consumer engagement and demonstrate its influence on subsequent conversions.
The result was the birth of a pioneering new metric called Post-Engagement (PE) Conversion. Rakuten MediaForge adapted the metric on a shared-revenue model, so clients paid only for conversions that could be tied to consumers who engaged with Rakuten MediaForge ads. It was designed so that clients would only pay Rakuten MediaForge when they got results, creating a collaborative performance indicator and fostering a more genuine partnership. It was an original cost-per-action (CPA) model that was possible because of Rakuten MediaForge’s unique ad platform. Clients loved it.
Rakuten MediaForge uses the same Post-Engagement model today. Clients still love it.
Rakuten MediaForge entered the display market focused exclusively on retargeting. In 2011, it began expanding its solutions to help its clients with prospecting, loyalty building, and reacquiring lapsed users. It also developed a product to help brand-focused marketers benefit from direct response through a product called Brand Response.
The Rakuten MediaForge culture is an embodiment of innovation and integrity. Its foundation was grounded in these values from the beginning, as its founders built solutions knowing that consumers and advertisers would be at the heart of its success. All aspects of the business, from its products to its business model to its campaign reports, have been designed to create positive and meaningful experiences for consumers and advertisers.
The most key component to Rakuten MediaForge’s ability to maintain these values is its team – the mFers. Its distinguishing values have been maintained because of an elite team of sharp mFers who are dedicated to the company’s vision. For clients, this means account representatives available 24 hours a day, and exceptionally transparent campaign reports to give them confidence that their campaigns are working. For consumers, it means the latest and greatest ad innovations to create better, more welcomed and more convenient ad experiences with the brands they love…or will love soon.
The fast-paced success that Rakuten MediaForge has achieved is nothing short of remarkable. Its success is solely attributed to its commitment to change the world of online advertising. What a fun ride it’s been!