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Downloadable Software Applications (DSAs): An Overview

A DSA (Downloadable Software Application) is software such as a toolbar or a plug-in that an end user installs on their computer. DSAs can earn users points or rewards from loyalty sites, provide them with publisher promotions and coupons, allow them to donate to charity, and perform other actions. They often work to increase a publisher's sales.

Rakuten Affiliate Network strives to make it easy for publishers to implement innovative tools and applications. In order to maintain the high-quality of our network, we do have specific guidelines on how these tools are implemented and used.

All DSAs must conform to Rakuten Affiliate Network's Guidelines and be tested by Rakuten Affiliate Network. It is the responsibility of the Publisher to notify Rakuten Affiliate Network about their DSA. See more information on the testing process.

The DSA testing process is a two-step process. To begin, please send an email to us at pubdsa@rakuten.com with this information:

  1. Publisher name
  2. Site ID (SID)
  3. Website URL
  4. DSA name and Version Number(s)
  5. Download URL for your software
  6. Browsers your DSA is compatible with
  7. Operating systems (i.e., Windows, Mac OS, etc.)
  8. Does your software activate and overwrite (your Rakuten affiliate cookie is placed) on the following? (Y/N)
    •    Paid Search –
    •    Rakuten Links (linksynergy)/Afsrc –
    •    Organic Listings –
    •    Direct Type In –
    •    Email -
  9. Detailed description of the expected behavior of your DSA. Please include details of click action and screenshot(s) of the software in use.
  10. How does the user opt out? Please provide detailed description of the new behavior.
  11. Distribution method for your software (please include specific URLs) including all third parties distributing your tool.  Please make sure to provide a complete list of third parties.
  12. Benefit to the end user
  13. How easily and quickly the DSA can be updated if needed
  14. A copy of the DSA software with 10 to 15  Rakuten Affiliate Network advertiser feeds (software must not be publicly available to download until approved)
  15. A list of Rakuten Affiliate Network advertisers included in the DSA launch

Once your DSA is approved, the second step is to contact your advertisers alerting them of this new distribution and marketing channel that you will be promoting them through. As our policies state, Rakuten Affiliate Network does not allow the auto-redirection of advertisers' natural traffic and paid traffic unless you have specific documented permission from each individual Advertiser. Your DSA should become inactive on the sites of any advertisers who opt out or stand down on those that don't want you to redirect their traffic. Publishers who fail to comply with this rule will jeopardize their relationship with Advertisers as well as with Rakuten Affiliate Network. For more information, please see: Have Your DSA Approved by Advertisers.

Important: If you make changes to your DSA after it has been approved, you must notify Rakuten Affiliate Network, as we will need to retest it.

Still have more questions? Use the SUPPORT tab at the top of the page or this link to find the email or phone Customer Support contacts for your location.



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    SallyAnne - Senior Education Strategist & Customer Success Champion

    I've updated this article with additional information to help us understand and approve your DSA.