Why card-linked marketing is the next step in retargeting

We live in a pretty cashless world. Most of us use our credit or debit cards to pay for a majority of our purchases. If you think about it, these digital transactions leave behind a fairly accurate picture of our buying habits, tastes and preferences.

Not to get too Minority Report, but most marketers would probably jump at the chance to tap into this data stream to serve their messages at just the right moment. And it’s safe to say that consumers wouldn’t mind trading some of the random or poorly-timed ads for truly relevant (and useful) messages.

That sounds a lot like card-linked marketing.

So what is card-linked marketing?
Basically, it’s a method of targeting using purchase data. A data analytics company sifts through a trove of purchase data from banks, then helps advertisers target millions of consumers across the web, including in their banking apps, based on their actual purchase behavior.

Isn’t this just retargeting?
It goes beyond that. Marketing is all about timing. Targeting is great at getting an ad in front of you after you’ve checked out a product online or had some other interaction. But what if you’ve already bought the product? Those are wasted impressions.

True. But how does card-linked marketing get around that?
When you base the marketing on actual purchase history, you can target consumers who are buyers in your category with offers at the right time. That’s not going to be just after they’ve looked at (and potentially bought) sneakers online. It’s going to be months or even a year after they made their last sneaker purchase: when they’re ready to buy their next pair.

Okay, but now instead of my browser history, you’re checking my bank info. Isn’t that even more invasive?
Well, brands that use card-linked marketing never actually touch your bank data, and neither does the data analytics company. No PII ever leaves the bank; only the purchase data is seen by anyone outside. So don’t worry: Your financial data is still private and secure.

Well that’s a relief, but does it even work?
Just look at the numbers: On average, about 15 percent of consumers who are exposed to card-linked marketing will follow up with a purchase.

That’s a pretty great ROI, and it makes perfect sense: You’re targeting them with offers for the things they would want to buy anyway. Seems like a perfect match.

And it also seems more focused on high-value consumers.
Exactly. Advertisers are able to pursue the active buyers in particular categories or geographies with certainty, thanks to the purchase data. Being able to target this way means that even less of your ad dollars are being wasted.

This is true consumer buying behavior, not a sampling of a small pocket of an audience. It’s targeting at scale.

That sounds great, but I think I’ll wait until it’s not so new.
Hundreds of national and regional brands are already running card-linked marketing campaigns. You might not have heard about it because few data analytics companies have access to this much bank data. The big data companies just aren’t talking about this.

But there has to be a catch… right?
Well, it’s exclusively based on purchase data. None of the behavioral stuff we love is blended in with it. But considering how crucial electronic payments are today, this is likely the data that will end up mattering most to marketers.

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