Devising Clicks-to-Bricks Linkages

Discussion
Nov 11, 2011
Rick Moss

“Best thing about digital is its ability to measure/influence shopper behavior along the path to purchase http://t.co/JNcIpcwp @retailwire”

That sub-140-character nugget was tweeted by Hayes Minor (@hayesminor), director of shopper marketing and retail planning for The Marketing Store, in response to Joel Rubinson’s insightful piece posted on RetailWire yesterday, How to Increase Marketing ROI in the Digital Age.

In the ensuing discussion, Peter Fader, professor of marketing, The Wharton School, concurred with Ms. Minor, but included a reality check. “The vast majority of data on media exposure/consumption (mass, social) is still largely disconnected from purchasing data, so we’re still pretty far from establishing this ‘Holy Grail’ linkage,” he wrote.

There is little chance that Tom Burgess, CEO of Linkable Networks, who sat for an interview on Wednesday at the ad:tech, NYC conference, has a coat of chain mail in his wardrobe, but his pursuit of an approach for connecting the dots of attribution along the path-to-purchase is no less determined for it. On Tuesday, his 18-month old Linkable Networks start-up announced a partnership with 24/7 Real Media that will allow advertisers to link deals to virtually any debit or credit card. The latter company runs the Global Web Alliance, one of the largest networks of its kind, which delivers ads in numerous formats to publisher websites. Linkable ads — which can take the form of banners, text messages, online video, mobile, TV or print — will display the company icon indicating to consumers that the offer can be linked directly to the credit and/or debit card they have registered with the service.

Linkable already supports 95 percent of all cards in the U.S. According to the company’s claims, the platform is the only one currently available with the ability to offer manufacturer-level discounts, so that brands can provide deals on individual SKUs at particular merchants, as well as general discounts at the retailer.

Consumers begin the process by signing up at mylinkables.com or by clicking on a Linkable ad. At some point, of course, the consumer must grant permission for the service to link to their card account (which will likely make many cardholders skittish), however Mr. Burgess reports that soon the issuing banks will lead recruitment efforts by offering one click registration from within the customers’ online accounts. And with the issuing of new cards, all cardholders will be automatically enrolled.

Consumers can accept offers through various means and all media types (online, print, TV, mobile): clicking on banner ads, responding to text messages, scanning QR codes, etc. They will receive emails when offers are accepted, redeemed — either on websites or in-store — and when the bank credits their account.

And then there’s that Grail. The beauty of the system, according to Mr. Burgess, will be in the ability of advertisers to track performance throughout the path-to-purchase. Linkable, with the cooperation of retailers, will have the ability to log SKU-level transactions, so advertisers will get data as to when, where and how the offer was accepted and redeemed.

Discussion Questions: What potential benefits do you see in card-linked offers such as the one being launched by Linkable? If widely adopted, how do you see it affecting loyalty marketing?

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12 Comments on "Devising Clicks-to-Bricks Linkages"


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Joel Warady
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Joel Warady
9 years 5 months ago

The most significant aspect of this arrangement is it once again addresses the ongoing battle as to who owns the customer; the brand or the retailer. By allowing the brands to control the deals, and further linking the deals directly to the consumers’ credit card, it puts the power back in the hands of the brand.

If the brand owner is able to control the deal, and further to control the deal and control which retailer will honor that deal, and finally controls the dialogue with the consumer, it allows the brand to completely own the relationship with the customer, and interact at multiple points during the path to purchase.

This all only works if Linkable can scale and gain mass usage from consumers.

Max Goldberg
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

The benefits are obvious: more data from advertising to purchase. I’d be more concerned about consumer acceptance. Many consumers will be wary of being so closely tracked. How much advertising will be pushed at consumers who are members of the program? How much will the program feel like Big Brother, watching consumers’ every move? This program is by no means a slam dunk when it comes to consumer acceptance.

Liz Crawford
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

Fantastic! This points the way to the future…including rewarding shopper behaviors like watching ads (to the end), sharing with friends and scanning products. In other words, this technology opens a way to reward shopper behaviors beyond purchase so that it is personal, immediate and convenient.

The value earned by the shopper (perhaps beyond just a “coupon”) may be redeemable along with payment. Imagine fungible value at the point of sale, such as, “Would you like to use points to pay for part of this purchase?” It won’t be long before this kind of virtual value can be stored and used as a form of currency, alongside fiat currency.

Phil Rubin
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

Linkable and its deal with 24/7 Real Media finally makes online advertising directly trackable to sales, albeit with a coupon. The benefits are significant both in terms of the accountability and the data it’s going to yield for the parties involved.

It will threaten brands that are irresponsible with (including simply not using) data to build customer relationships and reward those that are focused on converting prospects and new customers to engaged and valuable loyalists. One of the challenges is going to be navigating the bloody waters of discounting that are so pervasive and perpetuated by this kind of ad network.

Tom Burgess
Guest
Tom Burgess
9 years 5 months ago

Full disclosure — I’m the CEO of Linkable. I thought I would drop in and clarify one item. Linkable does not spam. No emails are pushed to consumers. Consumers, registered or not, see ads (through regular media consumption online or traditional) that are link-enabled and are able to link these offers to their existing cards. Non-registered users can register through the ad. They only need to register once. Our reg rate is more than 50% during our beta testing. Yes, we were surprised too!

The WPP relationship is the first step for rolling out our capabilities to advertisers interested in link-enabling any advertising campaign they like…in any medium.

We capture no consumer PII. We pass all credit card data direct to our banking partners and they store that data. We use anonymous tokens to support our participating consumers.

Hope this helps.

Dan Raftery
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

Not trying to throw cold water on the next hot thing in the Internet Commerce space, but here are two scary words: privacy and proprietary.

Regardless of the security protection and policies, it will take very smart marketing to convince even some consumers that it is okay to link this network to their credit or debit card accounts. One failure will topple this house of cards (mild humor).

The other scary word — proprietary — refers to retailer behavior. While influenced by a need to ensure consumer privacy, this will likely be viewed as another potential way to “monetize” scan data. So, assuming a retailer signs up to supply the feed, it won’t be free. Nor should it be. The infrastructures that they maintain are expensive.

Bernice Hurst
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

OH MY WORD – which will likely make many cardholders skittish???!!! If ever there was an open invitation to fraud, this has got to be it. I would have loved to add a caveat to my poll response – little to no potential, we can only hope.

Bill Bittner
Guest
Bill Bittner
9 years 5 months ago
If this becomes really popular, it will further dilute the retailer/consumer relationship. By connecting the consumer directly to the manufacturer discounts through their credit card, the manufacturer will reduce the role of the retailer to strictly a distribution outlet. Instead of the manufacturer offering funds (discounts) to the retailer for promoting their product, they can do it directly. The challenge with all this is that you still require the product. If the retailer has not stocked up on products being offered, the consumer will be drawn to the category but may end up buying a competitor’s product. It is almost as if the manufacturer dropped an FSI in the local paper but never told the retailers. All the extra demand is unable to produce sales because the product is simply not available. As it is described, it seems this whole process can be put in place without knowledge of the retailer. Everything is triggered by the card being processed at a central location. Instead of the manufacturer offering the retailer a cost reduction, the retailer… Read more »
M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
9 years 5 months ago

$17 billion. That’s the estimated value of Groupon’s recent IPO. But in technology circles, what was shiny and new yesterday is quickly leapfrogged by other ideas. If the marriage of Linkable Networks and 24/7 Real Media works, it will give brands an alternative to Groupon that will seriously and negatively impact that company’s business plan. Groupon will never work if limited to coupons for local restaurants and hair salons. National brand coupons were always seen as the engine to power their business model. Especially to the tune of $17 billion.

But, the Linkable Networks program still creeps me out. When I check in at my home page on msn.com every day, I’m still startled to find ads targeted to my online shopping habits displayed in the right-hand column. Makes me uncomfortable. Allowing multiple brands to link to my credit/debit card? Positively spooky. Perhaps this will appeal to consumers younger than me, which is most consumers.

Jim Garrity
Guest
Jim Garrity
9 years 5 months ago

This is a game changer. In this day of accountability and marketing ROI, this is THE winning play!

Sarah Fay
Guest
Sarah Fay
9 years 5 months ago

Anything that makes it easier and faster for consumers to accept offers will heighten engagement and loyalty. Linkable removes the barrier that comes with pre-buying a deal and simply asks “might you use this discount in the future? Store it on your credit card and take the discount whenever you decide to purchase.” Credit card companies who race to have customers turn on this functionality will benefit from top of wallet usage. Retailers and brands are given another method to entice and engage consumers, and then track purchases through to wherever transactions take place. That’s a breakthrough in ROI campaign measurement.

Jonathan Marek
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

Anything that makes it easier and faster for consumers to accept offers will hamper retailers’ profitability if they can’t figure out what part of redemption is incremental sales and what isn’t incremental. You can bet there will be all kinds of statistics on how engaged/valuable customers are that use these deals (as there are with Groupon, Facebook, etc.). But are you just giving away value (even faster) to already engaged customers?

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