Connecting the Dots between Online Offers and In-Store Purchases
Discover’s Arvind Ronta explains how the network is helping merchants connect online marketing campaigns and offers to in-store purchases.
By Loraine DeBonis, Editor-in-Chief
Knowledge is power. And, that’s particularly true for merchants and marketers that want to track consumers from online ad campaigns to in-store purchases. Arming merchants with the right knowledge is the goal of Discover Commerce Xchange (DCX), which the Riverwoods, Ill.-based company rolled out in 2014.
Discover created DCX to address gaps in transaction data, specifically around identification of merchant brands. The database provides access to an organized and accurate database of merchant brands, locations and acceptance capabilities, which enables Discover’s merchant partners to benefit from better targeting and redemption insights, ultimately driving better marketing decisions.
“There is a lot of payment data in the industry, but the data points aren’t always clean and organized to be leveraged for digital ad attribution, which can create a challenge around linking consumer transactions to specific merchants,” explains Arvind Ronta, director and global head of commerce, security and data products at Discover Financial Services. Given its role as issuer, acquirer and network, Discover was in a somewhat unique position to build what Ronta describes as a robust merchant database.
Shopping-related searches on mobile jumped more than 120 percent year-over-year from 2014 to 2015, according to Google data.
Digital ad-spend represents about 30 percent of merchants’ advertising expenditures, but in-store sales account for almost 93 percent of the nearly $5 trillion in U.S. retail sales. By 2019, eMarketer estimates 9.8 percent of U.S. retail sales will be transacted online.
The inability to tie advertising exposure to sales is the No. 1 challenge in today’s mobile ecosystem, according to a 2015 report from Marchex and Digiday.
“When data come through multiple acquirers, there are different standards and the data may be incomplete or inaccurate,” he says. For example, take a store that is owned by a parent brand, but the data that come through with a transaction doesn’t always distinguish between the two or indicate at which specific retail location a purchase was made.
From Deals to Decisions
The data platform becomes even more powerful when working in tandem with Discover Card’s merchant offers program, Discover Deals. DCX’s database supports the audience selection portion of these marketing campaigns, helping to narrow down the right cardmembers to which deals can be targeted.
“We put a lot of emphasis on the cardmember experience. We don’t want to bombard you with irrelevant offers,” Ronta adds. “Research has shown us that, surprisingly, consumers are looking for convenience and relevancy as much as price and value. They want to know, ‘Is this offer relevant to me?’” That’s where MDP’s data come in to help create targeted, relevant deals for cardmembers, which also includes information about participating store locations. Beyond Discover Deals, Discover’s prepaid program partners are able to leverage the platform for insights and targeting related to their campaigns.
For merchants and marketers, the exciting part is being able to connect the digital offer or campaign to the ultimate purchase, Ronta says. “Merchants care about attribution and insights. They’re investing a lot in their offers and they want confidence that their investment is paying off. We believe there are great advantages to seeing the data end-to-end, and then leveraging it to the benefit of our cardmembers and our merchant partners,” he concludes.