DealMaker USA 2023 Highlights

DealMaker USA 2023 in La Quinta, CA was the affiliate event of the year. Read our recap to hear how the event was a success for all!

DMUSA Recap Blog Featured Image

Rakuten Advertising held DealMaker USA 2023 in sunny La Quinta, California with the theme “doing business shouldn’t be this much fun.” We managed to top all in-person records with a record-breaking number of people traveling to California for the annual networking event! These attendees included top advertisers, publishers and agencies from across the globe who got together to prove that deal-making shouldn’t be this much fun!

DealMaker USA was held over three days and included a jam-packed schedule of networking, great food and fun. Some of the exciting events included:Disco!

  • The 2023 Golden Link Awards
  • A DealSpace pool party featuring our top clients and partners (and some yummy ice cream courtesy of Rakuten Rewards!)
  • Our inaugural Pickle Ball Tournament! Congratulations to our winners!
  • Disco in the Desert! We boogied all night long to end off the most fun 3 days in affiliate marketing.

Our client partners pre-scheduled more than 2500 meetings between these events to meet new brands and make some serious deals. In between this record-breaking number of meetings, attendees chatted AI during the keynote, attended insightful roundtable discussions, and listened in on three panels tackling current industry trends.

Pickleball Tournament

Our partner, CEO & Co-Founder of RevLifter, Simon Bird said it best: “As a global onsite technology partner specializing in personalizing deals and offers for e-commerce retailers, RevLifter was once again present at Dealmaker USA. The event far exceeded our expectations, proving instrumental in accomplishing these goals. With the success we’ve experienced this year, we eagerly anticipate our participation in Dealmaker 24!”

Here are some highlights from this year’s DealMaker:

Golden Link Awards

GLA RecapOur Golden Link Awards were hosted Monday, May 1st by comedian Christi Chiello. There were more than 75 companies short-listed and 16 outstanding winners from the event! Read more about the full list of winners and those short-listed here. Congratulations to all!!

Executive Remarks

Executive Remarks kicked off with Chief Revenue Officer Jeff Wender speaking on the ever-changing world of affiliate marketing. Wender spoke to the key insights and trends that have contributed to the continued success of our network. Following Jeff, Managing Director of North America Anthony Capano took the stage to speak to our industry successes and to make an exciting announcement.

Exec summary

Now available to our clients and partners within the Rakuten Advertising network is our latest tech innovation, Audience Engine! This new product is a unique commissioning technology that makes audience targeting and personalization possible and accessible via the affiliate channel. The goal is to allow publishers to charge different commission rates for their audiences to achieve success. For more information on this innovative tech, check out our latest 

blog featuring Kyle Fish, Lead Product Manager of Affiliate.

2023 Keynote: The Power of AI

AI is top of mind for all within the affiliate industry and DealMaker USA was buzzing after Mahak Sharma, Head of Platform Partnerships at Google held our 2023 keynote on the topic. Together, attendees learned the game-changing impact of AI with Google.

Industry Panel Discussions

Panel DiscussionsAttendees had the opportunity to hear from industry leaders on topics including multi-channel, affiliate trends, and the influencer space. This allowed attendees to not only listen but to participate in conversations with industry thought leaders.

Revolutionizing Cross-Channel Targeting

This panel focused on the latest media consumption habits and cutting-edge strategies for reaching audiences across all stages of the marketing funnel. From retail media to social, CTV, and beyond, attendees learned how to harness the power of performance and push the boundaries of omnichannel marketing to drive results.

Multi-Channel Panel

Moderated by: Yomi Arokoyo – VP, Performance Solutions Rakuten Advertising


  • Margo Kahnrose – CMO, Skai
  • Kirk Anderson – Partner, Touch Squared Marketing
  • Annie Rector – Senior Director of Business Development, The Trade Desk

Affiliate Trend Watch

Affiliate Trend Watch Panel

Affiliate Trend Watch revealed industry-first data and cutting-edge insights on consumer behavior trends in the US market. Attendees discovered how these trends can grow business and learned strategies to stay ahead of the game. From affiliate marketing to market trends, this panel focused on the knowledge and tools needed to win. 

Moderated by: Alex Czurylo – SVP, Group Product Operations, Rakuten Advertising


  • Dave Gill – VP, Consumer Insights, Rakuten Advertising
  • Lauryn Vaughn – CEO, ReUpp
  • Katelan Blake – Ecommerce Manager, Dyson

Navigating the Full Funnel with Influencers

Influencer Panel Discussion

Attendees had the opportunity to join in a discussion about the customer journey through the lens of influencer marketing – in every stage of the funnel. Featuring influential industry leaders, the panel discussed different influencer and publisher types that support campaigns built for branding, consideration and purchasing.

Moderated By: Ceres Cueva – SVP, Global Publisher Partners, Rakuten Advertising


  • Alex Stone – Founder & CEO, Split
  • Glen Allison – COO, Cameo
  • Emili Castañeda – VP, Publisher Partnerships & Influencer Services, Rakuten Advertising

Roundtable Discussions

RoundtablesDealMakerUSA was exciting in every way, but this year launched our first-ever roundtable discussion sessions! These sessions were geared toward industry trends and the content that our attendees wanted to see. Roundtable discussions included global expansion, the importance of partnership, AI in the financial space, and our latest product offerings. Thank you to our industry experts and staff who hosted and made these conversations hard to forget!

DealSpace and Networking

DealSpace 2023DealMaker is all about making deals and connections, and it was just that! There were three days filled with opportunities to schedule one-on-one meetings with contacts, both old and new. In fact, our attendees scheduled more than 2500 meetings in just three days!

Dealspace Pool

DealSpace, a dedicated area for showcasing partners, was another opportunity for participants to connect with each other. Major leaders within the affiliate space were present, as well as plenty of networking, laughter, and even a few cocktails, proving that doing business is that much fun!

We want to give a huge thank you to our incredible events team, Sara Gorlick, Krystyna Lijek, Kayla Maley, and Sophia Leizman, for all the hard work that they put into making this year’s DealMaker USA a roaring success – we couldn’t achieve this amazing success without you!

Events girlies :)

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Rakuten Advertising

Rakuten Advertising leads the industry in delivering performance-driven ad solutions that help the world’s top brands connect with unique, highly engaged audiences – from first impression to final sale.