Rakuten Affiliate Return Days (Cookie Life) Policy

What are return days?

Return days are the number of days that can elapse between a referred customer's initial visit from your site to the advertiser's site and a return visit to the advertiser's site in which they make a purchase (also known as "cookie life"). If a customer makes a purchase within the return days period, the referring publisher receives a commission on the sale, even if the visitor returns directly to the advertiser’s site.

What steps do I need to take in order to be entitled to benefit from the return days offered by an advertiser?

Each advertiser, for the most part, sets its own rules for publisher participation in its affiliate marketing program, so the answer to this question will obviously vary from advertiser to advertiser. Our suggestion is that you carefully review the terms of your engagements with each of your advertiser partners, and when in doubt, contact the advertiser directly with your questions. With that said, there are a few basic rules pertaining to return days that apply to your participation in all of your advertiser programs. Those guidelines are as follows:

Add value by delivering the consumer

In order for you to benefit from Return Day Benefit Policy offered by an advertiser, you must have actually delivered the consumer to the advertiser's site. You will be deemed to have delivered a user to an advertiser if, after receiving a clear indication from that user that they are interested in viewing an advertiser's offerings, you direct that user to the relevant page on the advertiser's site. Examples of this include, but are not limited to:

  • Direct Link to Advertiser Site: Displaying an advertiser's link on your site such that when a user clicks on that link he or she is redirected to the advertiser's site.
  • Direct Link Within Publisher Site/Indirect Link to Advertiser Site: Displaying the advertiser's link on your site so that when a user clicks on that link, they are redirected to another page on your site devoted to the advertiser and, at the same time, a fully visible window displaying the relevant page of the advertiser's site opens over or under your web page.
  • Search Link Within Publisher Site/Indirect Link to Advertiser Site: Permitting the user to use the search features integrated into your site to conduct a search of your site in order locate an advertiser's offerings and then redirecting the user to or opening a fully visible window displaying the specific advertiser's site as part of the search results. In this example, the user's search query must include some specific reference to the advertiser, like the advertiser's name or its products, as opposed to generic search terms.
  • Search Link to Publisher Site/Indirect Link to Advertiser Site: Acquiring search placement on third-party search engines on behalf of a specific advertiser such that when a user clicks on your listing in the search results, the user is redirected to a page on your site devoted to that advertiser or the advertiser's products and, at the same time, a full-sized window displaying the advertiser's relevant page pops over or under the window containing your page. In this example, the user's search query must include some specific reference to the advertiser, like the advertiser's name or its products, as opposed to generic search terms.

To the extent that you engage in search marketing, please be aware that some advertisers regulate the purchase of keywords based on their name, brands, and trademarks, so you should consult with those advertisers before attempting to acquire search placement on their behalf.

Don't try to beat the system

The concept of return days is built around the fundamental assumption that you have actually referred to the advertiser a user who has expressed a clear indication that they are interested in the advertiser's offerings. In doing this, you have added value that you should be rewarded for. If you have delivered a user who has not indicated in some clear manner any desire to be referred and delivered to an advertiser's site, you have not actually delivered the user in a manner warranting a commission. Worse, if you attempt to "beat the system" by simulating the referral and delivery of a user to an advertiser, then, not only should you be denied the benefit of return days, but you will also not be entitled to any commissions. You may even be required to return commission payments that you have already received.

By way of example, if you:

  • Program your site to open a 1x1 pixel of the advertiser's site or Web page without actually making the advertiser's site or page visible to the user then you have not delivered the user.

We consider these kinds of business practices deceptive. Please be advised that Rakuten Advertising takes the integrity of its Network very seriously and will terminate you from participation if you are found by us to be gaming or trying to beat the system.

By establishing these very basic guidelines, we are in no way attempting to discourage you from optimizing and ever-improving the ways you promote the products and services of your advertiser-partners. We do, however, want to make sure that you act in an ethical and responsible fashion, with your primary focus being on adding value to the advertiser's affiliate marketing program.

We are serious about maintaining the integrity of the Network and expect you, as a valued member of the Network, to act with the same values. We understand that you may have questions or concerns as to whether one of your current or proposed promotional strategies is consistent with these guidelines. If you do, then please do not hesitate to contact Customer Support for your country. You can find their contact information in the Support tab at the top of the page. When emailing us, please be as descriptive as possible in identifying the promotional strategy in question, include an example path or search for us to review, and feel free to include diagrams and screenshots, if applicable.

Was this article helpful?
4 out of 6 found this helpful


  • I've updated this article to clarify the definition of return days. Hope that's helpful!

  • Hi Sally, where can i have someone test m website to make sure that i am complying

  • Hi taiwo adedayo, you can contact our compliance team directly at
    ra-compliance@rakuten.com. Thank you for asking!


Please sign in to leave a comment.