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How Tracking Consumer Spending Pays Off For Marketers


This article is sponsored by Commerce Signals, a Verisk Financial business.

By Nick Mangiapane, Chief Marketing Officer

Get closer to customers – even as they pay somebody else for products and services.

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales have skyrocketed. DTC brands across nearly every consumer category – from bustling bug-spray manufacturers to cook-from-home meal-kit providers to sustainable shoe and clothing retailers – are leading the charge. Only two years ago, DTC sales in the US reached an impressive $76.7 billion. That total is expected to nearly double in 2022 and reach $174.8 billion in 2023.

Since consumers vote with their wallets, every payment-card transaction is an opportunity for savvy marketers to understand the cleanest, purest source of consumer buying behavior – and use it to make their campaigns more efficient and effective.

Meanwhile, many other methods of capturing digital behavior are disappearing. Traditional offline options such as surveys capture consumers’ claimed behavior, which is often different than their actual behavior. Marketers need anonymized, permissioned behavior data to make fact-based decisions about ad creative, targeting and media.

To fully understand why payments data is filling the void, it’s important to discuss why other marketing data sources are offering diminishing returns for consumer targeting and measurement:

Insufficient geographic information system (GIS) data

 For the past few years, marketers have cashed in with geographically targeted digital advertising and location-based push notifications. The conventional thinking was that if you could pinpoint your target audience, you could capture its business. And while this approach has led to effective campaigns, it’s not without issues.

With GIS payments data, a marketer knows what locations a consumer has visited. And … well, that’s about it. It doesn’t reveal anything about the buyer’s online purchases or if they made a purchase at the visited location.


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 Privacy-conscious consumers and new online restrictions

 Consumers are more aware that they’re being tracked and targeted via their mobile devices and online purchases. As such, they’re more diligent about blocking access to their personal data. And now they have more help.

Apple recently implemented AppTrackingTransparency (ATT), a privacy feature for users on iOS/iPadOS version 14.5 and later where marketers need to receive permission from the user to track them across apps and websites owned by other companies. Until recently, most consumers were unaware of the privacy options and settings in their phone. But mobile phones have pushed those settings to the forefront. Only 16% of U.S. consumers are opting into app tracking.

 Regulators have introduced GDPR and CCPA to preserve data privacy for online users. In addition, the brewing battle between browser behemoths to remove third-party cookies to redefine the future of privacy online is expanding.

Sources of payment transaction data

From the card-issuing banks to the merchant processors, there are multiple players involved in the Visa and Mastercard networks. No single bank or network has broad enough coverage for all marketing use cases. Few marketers have the time and energy to understand the credit-card ecosystem. Aggregators can unite enough spending, however, to show the full picture of consumer spending behavior.

Payments data brings you closer to customers

Imagine what marketers can learn from actual people making actual purchases. Payments data removes guesswork about what a consumer bought. Instead of assumptions, it reveals what actually happened. For added insight into consumer behavior, payments data can be matched against geographical location, type of purchase or even type of customer.

Anonymized payments data can help marketers learn where consumers choose to make purchases and how loyal they are compared to other consumers in the segment. Then they can target consumers based on purchase behavior instead of demos or attitudinal segmentation, which eliminates waste in the digital marketing supply chain.

Targeting consumers based on real-world behaviors has never been more direct – or effective.


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