headshot of michelle wood, vp of merchant development

Rakuten Advertising had the chance to speak with Michelle Wood, Vice President of Merchant Development at Wildfire Systems, Inc., about the ease of Wildfire’s browser extension technology for shoppers and retailers. Michelle talks about meeting the customers where they are, helping merchants grow their affiliate programs and what is in the works for Wildfire Systems, Inc.

Give us a quick synopsis of Wildfire Systems, Inc.

Wildfire has been in the affiliate business for more than 4 years, but we have only started to get noticed by advertisers and agencies in the last 18 months. Wildfire is unique in that it is building loyalty and rewards platforms for notable companies with large consumer audiences, such as Microsoft and Acorns. We have built a full-funnel suite of tools that allows any business to engage its members by offering savings and rewards via cash back and digital coupons when shopping online. Long term, our goal is to be partnered with a large portfolio of companies with global audiences so that we can expand the marketing reach for all our merchant partners in the US and beyond. That said, we are working with all merchants in every category and geographical region to meet the consumer needs of our publisher partners.

What sets you apart from other publishers?

Wildfire offers an enterprise-level, white-label cash back rewards platform which allows established companies with existing, high-quality consumer audiences to easily offer cash back rewards for online shopping to their customers. In effect, partners work with us to easily create loyalty rewards programs, so their customers can enjoy the benefits of cash back and discounts for shopping without the time, effort and expense of the partner building a rewards program in-house.

Our suite of tools includes turnkey shopping companions that meet the customer where they are, delivering coupons/discounts and cash back opportunities at just the right moment during their shopping journey. For the more technically inclined, we also offer APIs and data feeds which partners can integrate into their existing programs or apps.

The key with Wildfire is that our partners lean on the extensive technology backend Wildfire built to easily implement cash back rewards programs, but what their customers see is fully customized to the partner’s own brand. Our partners, including some of the world’s largest banks, fintechs and search engines, benefit from increased customer loyalty by delivering a strong, money-maximizing shopping rewards benefit to their end users that “just works.”

How does Wildfire Systems, Inc. help advertisers add value and drive incrementality?

By working with Wildfire, merchants will have an infinite number of opportunities to incrementally grow their affiliate program with us. Through our platform, advertisers in the Rakuten network gain exposure to massive audiences of potential new customers through the combined impact of the millions of end-user shoppers our current partners bring to the table. They can quickly scale-up their affiliate program without having to build relationships publisher-by-publisher. And our consumer reach continues to grow: our Business Development team is creating partnerships with new companies every day looking to expand their engagement with consumers by offering a loyalty platform that allows them to earn rewards and save money when shopping at any of our retail merchants.

Merchants in our network benefit from increased conversion rates by customers who activate cash back opportunities at the start of their shopping journey. We have seen significant conversion rate increases at our merchants when customers activate cash back upon visiting a site. As well, our shopping companions automatically detect and apply the best approved affiliate coupon codes at checkout, so the customer has no reason to abandon the shopping cart to search for working codes.

Finally, merchants can benefit from additional exposure through our shopping companion’s “Alternate Merchant Alerts” feature. Our browser extension automatically displays related merchants if a shopper visits a site where a cash back opportunity doesn’t already exist, creating an opportunity for the related merchants to capture a shopper who’s already in-market for the products they sell.

What excites you about the affiliate marketing industry and where it’s headed? What new innovations will we see from you this year?

We continue to innovate on our full-funnel engagement platform that takes a consumer from brand discovery to consideration and conversion to advocacy. We already offer shopping companions for all the major desktop browsers, as well as for iOS and Android on the mobile side. Our team is working on additional product innovations and enhancements that will drive brand discovery and higher conversion rates for merchants and in turn offer more shopping benefits to our partners’ end-user customers. We will also continue our pursuit of global expansion with loyalty platforms launching to UK, LATAM, EMEA and MENA consumers.

Why did you choose to partner with Rakuten Advertising?

We choose to partner with Rakuten Advertising because of the depth in merchants by category as well as by geography. By working with Rakuten, we know we can get a robust merchant portfolio that our clients’ consumers will be interested in earning rewards from.

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