At a time when there are deep job cuts in adland due to global COVID-19 pandemic, Rakuten Advertising has appointed senior Dentsu Aegis Network (DAN) executive Stuart McLennan as Senior Vice President of APAC. In this newly created role, he will lead Rakuten Advertising's business across the Asia-Pacific region including Australia and New Zealand.
McLennan previously spent nearly a decade with Dentsu Aegis Network in the UK and across Asia in senior management positions, most recently as APAC Media and Performance Lead. His departure from DAN extends an already lengthy list of top management exits from the network in APAC.
His appointment at Rakuten Advertising comes barely a month after a recent recast that saw the company bring together its affiliate network, programmatic retargeting and prospecting technology, with access to Rakuten’s global media properties including Rakuten TV, Rakuten Viber, Rakuten Viki and Rakuten France.
McLennan says he will focus on building a deeper and more distinct offering for the Asian market, something he contends agency networks have struggled to build. "They haven't focused on local strategic publisher relationships and without this it is hard to access inventory when it comes to affiliates." He claims that Rakuten Advertising is doing just the opposite, by building strong ties with publishers in markets such as China and Korea, for starters, before building out a pan-Asia network.
"In Australia, the business is strong in retail, but we also want to expand our offerings into the travel and banking sectors," he told Campaign. "In terms of our capabilities, we are extremely strong in affiliate marketing, but want to enhance our offerings in programmatic and search in Asia." Rakuten Advertising has some 35 people split across Sydney and Melbourne.
While the firm's Asia-Pacific interests have been mostly focused on Australia, this new role will see McLennan based out of Singapore rather than Sydney, giving him a broader Asia-wide remit. The role is part of the international leadership team reporting into international managing director Anthony Capano.
McLennan first worked with Rakuten when he was helping to build out iProspect, the digital performance marketing shop of DAN, in Asia, some years ago. While parent Rakuten may be well known worldwide as among the largest internet companies, McLennan says he plans to both deepen the Rakuten Advertising's presence in Australia and simultaneously prospect for new business in Asia.