Symposium Sydney: Overcoming Challenges and Competing with the One Company that Aims to Rule the World

Posted by Rhiannon Farrar on Sep 27, 2017 3:15:00 PM
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On September 14th Rakuten Marketing held our 5th annual Symposium Sydney, at the iconic Roslyn Packer Theatre in Walsh Bay.


With a few extra team mates on hand to welcome guests, Symposium was attended by over 300 members of the performance marketing industry, ranging from leading advertisers, publishers and agencies. Attendees were treated to an array of industry experts who discussed the challenges facing marketers.

Rakuten Marketing Asia-Pacific, Managing Director, Anthony Capano opened Symposium, highlighting the success we’ve experienced over the past 12 months, including the expansion of our team in both our Singapore and Melbourne. Capano also spoke to two key partnerships for our parent company Rakuten, in the sponsorship of both FC Barcelona and the Golden State Warriors. Drawing similarities between the teams and Rakuten, Capano called out the importance of team work and innovative strategies, stating “it is the combination of an expert team and tech that enables us to deliver such high levels of performance.”


Key discussions at Symposium examined how marketers can overcome the challenges presented to them. Danny Kourianos, SVP of Marketing at Rakuten Marketing spoke about the one company that aims to rule the world (you know who we’re talking about!), and how retailers can overcome the “Amazon Effect.” Currently, Amazon sales in Australia amount to around $1 billion through overseas shipments, this is before they’ve even opened local operations. According to Kourianos, combatting the “Amazon Effect” lies in reaching new audiences through the use of unique data, a breadth of solutions and tactics, and through utilising proper measurement and attribution. Specifically, brands should be looking to: 

  1. Drive new customers away from Amazon and directly to their own sites
  2. Find quality customers that are relevant to their brand, and who have a high propensity to purchase
  3. Establish proper attribution methodology


Early adopters of Affiliate Marketing in Australia, ShopStyle,, ANZ Rewards and Cashrewards then took the stage to discuss the maturity and development of the affiliate industry in Australia and how to avoid plateauing as Australia edges closer to reaching optimal performance in the space.

After discussing how Affiliate Marketing in Australia has evolved, Cameron Lawson, Head of Group Digital Marketing for Cotton On spoke about the rise of Cotton On, with a focus on their affiliate journey and success thus far. Lawson provided insights into Cotton On’s affiliate mission to “use affiliate publishers to drive sales at key trade moments,” and to identify key publishers to build brand awareness in emerging regions, driving exposure with low risk. Through careful examination of their affiliate program, and other performance data, Cotton On have employed strategic tactics to grow affiliate sales.


Brands have at their disposal a key element to overcome many of the challenges they’re presented with, a hidden value that they own, and that’s data. 2XU, The ICONIC, Acorns and Eyeota joined us to discuss their data journey, the challenges in implementing data lead strategies and what’s to come in the future.


Along with understanding and utilising data, marketers also need to understand the psychology behind the way people purchase. Symposium keynote speaker, Matt Newell, Executive Strategy Director at The General Store, noted that each person operates with a different mind – the limbic mind (a reflex/ feeling system) or cognitive mind (a thinking system) – and it’s important for marketers to understand these differences. Sparking some controversy, Newell spoke about the biologic differences between the male and female brain. Specifically, when it comes to purchasing behaviour it's noted that men have an innate interest in things, whilst women have an innate interest in people; Men function with an analytical, focused, linear, logical perspective, and women function with a ‘whole brained’ perspective. By delving into the consumer purchasing and decision-making processes, marketers can evolve with changing purchasing patterns. Newell left the audience with 3 key points to remember:

  1. When it comes to decisions we are in two mind
  2. Human beings are rationalising creatures. Not rational creatures
  3. Male vs. Female brains are biologically different

And with that, there was plenty to talk about as Symposium presentations came to an end and an evening of networking was sent into full swing! 

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Our sponsors did an incredible job with their DealMaker tables, we would again like to thank them for their continued support.


To view more photos from Symposium Sydney visit our Facebook Page! 

Topics: Events