A coffee brand like Starbucks, for instance, uses Cardlytics Direct to drive sign-ups for its loyalty rewards program.
Cardlytics works closely with big banks like Bank of America and PNC. It takes a cut from every sale that originates through its bank partners’ rewards programs, like Bank of America's BankAmeriDeals. Its field sales team is responsible for generating all advertiser demand.
The company’s software is embedded behind the banks’ firewalls, which safeguards transactional data and keeps personally identifiable information from escaping the system.
While Amazon and Nielsen Catalina (Editor's note: NCS says it provides UPC-level data, which breaks down product specifics further than simple SKUs) have deep insight into product or SKU-level data, Cardlytics claims it has a better sense of how consumers are spending across the full share of wallet.
“They see very narrow and deep, and we see very wide,” Cushion said. “We don’t actually know what products you’re buying, but we do see where else you spend and how frequently outside of a given store. We can see that somebody who buys a lot of coffee also spends money at craft or pet stores, which informs segments marketers go after and even merchandising decisions at stores.”
Cardlytics doesn’t compete with shopper data providers or onboarders, such as Datalogix or Acxiom’s LiveRamp, but instead sees itself as a complementary data asset.
In some cases, Cardlytics might help a client buy across exchanges while applying its purchase intelligence as a managed service. For those who prefer a self-service option, the company is beta testing ways systems can tap directly into Cardlytics’ data offering via API to inform mobile, online and even TV buys.
“Our goal is not to replace measurement providers like Nielsen or IRI, but we’re starting to bring measurability and targetability outside of our core area, which is this native bank channel,” said Cushion.
“We will be able to deliver ads based on real past purchases, not just demos or behavioral data,” she added. “If somebody is on month 29 of a 30-month term with Infiniti, wouldn’t that be interesting for BMW? We’re expanding ways to reach likely buyers, or those with high intent.”
That’s not to say that Cardlytics is a competitive conquesting free-for-all. Because the company sits at the intersection of personal transaction data and competitive advertiser segments, some of the data associations are purposely obfuscated in order to protect the brand at the retailer level.
In other words, Infiniti might be classified under a competitive “luxury automaker” segment.
Although a platform like Walmart’s WMX might help suppliers understand how product moved off shelves in Walmart stores specifically, Cardlytics says it answers the reverse: “We help them figure out where else those people spend their money when they walk out of a store.”
Cardlytics doesn’t see itself competing with mobile payment or data providers, either.
“From a mobile perspective, the ‘how’ people buy doesn’t actually matter – whether Apple Pay, credit card or mobile web because it’s still all linked back to the bank transaction level,” Cushion added. “There are a lot of folks offering different payment options, but it all goes back to the bank. We don’t even think of ourselves as a card-linked player anymore.”