Audience Engine


Audience Engine is a feature that allows you to collaborate with your advertiser partners to run targeted campaigns on a pay-for-performance basis. If you have audience segments and targeting abilities, Audience Engine allows you to pass encrypted identifiers when a user clicks an affiliate link and map them to an advertiser’s dynamic commissioning rules. When members of the audience segments convert, you earn the commission amount you and the advertiser agreed on.

Use Cases

These are examples of ways certain advertiser and publisher models can work together with Audience Engine:

  • Buy now, pay later (BNPL) and loyalty partners can offer custom cash back rates to specific audience segments.
  • Subnetworks can use Audience Engine to offer unique cash back rates to premium content partners.
  • Content partners can run contextual media exposure, branded content, social, and push campaigns.
  • Coupon and deals partners can target users through browser extensions and email.

Common forms of targeting include but are not limited to, demographic targeting, geographic or weather-based targeting, placement, device or platform targeting, behavioral or interest targeting, contextual targeting, keyword search or topic targeting, custom audience targeting, and 1x1 personalization. Targeting and segmenting abilities vary by advertiser.

How It Works

Audience Engine commissioning technology leverages a click-tracking attribute, the u5 parameter, that you set to indicate that a targeted audience member has engaged. You map your audience segments to u5 values and pass the encrypted u5 parameter values when a user clicks an affiliate link for advertisers with whom you are running Audience Engine campaigns.

Once the u5 attribute is set up in the advertiser’s commissioning structure, it is used to commission you for conversions at the agreed-upon rate.


The use of advertiser customer relationship management (CRM) data is optional for Audience Engine campaigns.


Email for a list of suggested advertisers to partner with on Audience Engine campaigns.

Once you have identified your Audience Engine partners and strategies, email so that we can enable Audience Engine for those partnerships. This process may take up to two weeks.

Starting Campaigns

These are the steps for running an Audience Engine campaign:

  1. You and the advertiser agree to the terms of the campaign: who to target, the commission percentage for targeted audience conversions, duration, and so on.
  2. You set up a commissioning list with the u5 audience values used for targeting and provide the file to the advertiser to include in their offer setup. View the instructions below for creating this commissioning list.
  3. The advertiser creates an affiliate offer using a new dynamic commissioning rule and any other rules they want to commission on.
  4. You accept the offer and begin targeting your members accordingly.

u5 Parameter

A u5 parameter must be enabled to pass audience segments, other click-based attributes, or both, that could be used for commissioning or reporting insights. The parameter includes a key and a value. Rakuten Advertising defines the key, and you supply the value.

The value represents your relevant audience segment ID. This is the ID that you will include in your audience commissioning list. It could be the name of the audience or an ID representing it. This must be an alphanumeric value.

Follow the instructions in the Audience Engine Technical Overview to set a valid value and make sure you follow all encoding requirements when setting the u5 value in the click.

Commissioning List

As stated above, you must provide your advertiser partner with a commissioning list for each audience segment that you plan to target in the campaign. This list should include every unencoded u5 value you have created to represent your audience segment. You can use one or multiple IDs to identify a particular audience segment. Every ID you use in the click to identify the audience segment must be included in the commissioning list on its own row.

You must follow these requirements when creating the commissioning list:

  • The list must be a .txt file.
  • Every row in the file must contain only one ID. Two comma-separated values on one row will be interpreted as one ID, not two.
  • The file name has a 50-character limit and must be formatted as
    [publisher name]_[audience name]_[date mmddyyyy].
  • The IDs included in the commissioning list must be unencoded values. Though the Audience Engine Technical Overview specifies that the u5 value in the URL must be encoded, you should use the unencoded value instead of the encoded value in the commissioning list.


When you run reports to track performance, only the commissioning list name, not the values, will be displayed.


As an example, Publisher A and their advertiser partner agree to target two audiences for their Audience Engine campaign: lapsed customers and high average order value (AOV) buyers. Publisher A needs to create two different commissioning lists, one for each audience; click the + to view the information these lists should include: 

Lapsed Customers

Publisher A uses a single u5 value, 12345, to represent the lapsed customer target group.

In this example, the .txt file will be named PublisherA_LapsedCustomers_05242024. The file will only include the unencoded u5 value, 12345.

High AOV

Publisher A uses several u5 values, 1000, 2000, and 3000, to represent the high AOV target group.

In this example, the .txt file will be named PublisherA_HighAOV_05242024. The file will include the unencoded u5 values, each on its own row as such:





Remember to deliver each commissioning list you create for an Audience Engine to your advertiser partner, who will upload the file when creating the offer.

Additional Resources

Read the Audience Engine Technical Overview for more information on enabling campaigns and the u5 parameter.

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