Oct 11, 2021

Julie Van Ullen, Managing Director of Rakuten Rewards, on the Future of the Partner Marketing Industry

Bethany Cowan

As the Managing Director at Rakuten Rewards, Julie Van Ullen has witnessed firsthand how the affiliate marketing industry has changed over the last few years in particular.

In her current position, she's tasked with overseeing both the commercial organization selling and supporting of the company's affiliate solutions for both advertisers and publishers alike. She is in charge of the strategy and vision for all aspects of go-to-market at the company, which includes elements like data, prospecting, retargeting, social and more.

In a recent interview, she gave her thoughts on a wide range of different topics - including on how she sees the affiliate industry developing over the next five years and beyond.


A Prosperous Future Awaits Affiliates Everywhere

Julie Van Ullen made it clear that part of the reason why she loves affiliate marketing to begin with has to do with how quickly it has historically evolved to current trends. As technology continues to develop, and as marketers have use of more data at their fingertips, they use it to empower the personal, specific experiences they're creating for consumers. She indicated that this is one trend that shows absolutely no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

In her opinion, the industry is headed in a direction where it is more targeted and personalized at the exact same time - two sides of the same coin, as it were. One is more aimed at the advertiser while the other has an eye towards the consumer, but they still benefit everyone involved in equal measure.

But more than anything, she sees the industry headed towards a much more value-driven model than ever before. People are starting to see through the artificial appeal of the "vanity metrics" that we used to hold so dearly - first clicks, impressions, etc. Instead, businesses want to see what they're actually getting for their money. They don't just want to see a customer make a first purchase. They want to see them make a second and a third purchase, too. They want to see them become loyal customers and, more importantly, they want to know why.

That's something that has always been a priority at Rakuten and Julie Van Ullen is happy that the entire industry is finally waking up to this notion, too.

In the end, she indicated that the overall quality of the experience is everything - regardless of the industry that you're talking about. It happens to be especially true in the world of affiliate advertising, and she sees things moving in a decidedly positive direction. When asked to give advice to people who may be looking to get into the industry for the first time, she made her position clear:

Find a company that you like and a role that you find compelling. At that point, all you have to do is get started. Your passion will bleed into the work, which will naturally create a positive effect on the consumer experience - which, at the end of the day, is what everybody wants.