Category Archives: Big Data

Twitter Acquires CardSpring; Enters SMB Loyalty and Data Space

Twitter has made a bold move to go beyond advertising by adding performance marketing to its portfolio via the purchase of CardSpring, the San Francisco-based startup. The acquisition price has not been announced. CardSpring had raised $10 Million since its launch in 2011.

One of the big tech challenges in the payments space has been to remake the credit/debit card to a “digital receipt” product that can not only process sales, but also leverage specific SKU information, location and customer behavior to add coupons, loyalty points, events and other ewallet items. That’s the challenge that Netscape Vet Eckart Walther gave himself several years ago in launching CardSpring. The company has been positioned as a value add – some would say “middle man” — to both financial institutions and publishers providing marketing solutions for brands and SMBs.

CardSpring’s ambitious goal has been to enable merchants to write their own promotions; distribute them over CardSpring’s publisher network; and redeem and analyze the deal on their Point of Sales. The service’s “near” real-time analytics can show merchants where their redeemed promotions are coming from and what they bought.

CardSpring first got on the map via a 2012 partnership with payments leader First Data to provide check-in promotions at certain venues. More recently, it has also begun integrating with VeriFone’s POS network to enable developers to build their own card-linked services.

The launch of CardSpring Connect in September, 2013 – described as “Google Analytics for the retail world” was a milestone for the company. Foursquare and MOGL are among the most significant publishers providing CardSpring Connect to at least some of their merchant advertisers. Others include Thanx, Roximity, Moblico and OnStripe.

Twitter’s acquisition of CardSpring makes sense to us as Twitter positions itself as a real time marketing channel, and also a “common carrier” that can work widely across the board with key players in the space. This is consistent with CardSpring’s general positioning. The sale of CardSpring itself also suggests that it has been a difficult effort for an independent company to enlist partners to a middle man solution. It has also been difficult to differentiate itself among several other players providing similar features.

BIA/Kelsey looks deep at the SMB Loyalty and Data Space at Leading in Local: SMB Digital Marketing Sept. 22-24 in New Orleans, with such featured speakers as Groupon’s Dan Roarty, Perka’s Rob Bethge and Mercury Payment’s Randy Clark. You can register here.

Analytics Take Center Stage: Where2GetIt Acquires Brandify

Analytics are moving center stage for many “platform” companies previously anchored in features such as maps, search, deals, store location, directions, listing updates and enhancements.

The trend – a real one — was reinforced today by Where2GetIt’s announcement that it has acquired Brandify, the Washington D.C. area based provider of analytics for 26,000 local businesses.

Brandify provides feedback on digital marketing efforts based on 200 + variables, including reputation, local SEO performance, social engagement, competitor benchmarking, reviews and comments, business listing analysis, and locator traffic. Where 2 Get It envisions Brandify “bridging the gap between its online and offline features” with “real time local insights.”

Where2GetIt CEO Manish Patel, in a discussion with BIA/Kelsey, said that many of the company’s multi location customers — ranging from Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Shops to Hunter Douglas shades — have been asking for a more comprehensive solution.

“They are faced with knitting together a patchwork of point products and services to protect their brand, improve visibility, local listing management, and local monitoring,” said Patel. Brandify “scores” their effectiveness in key areas, and makes it easier for them to determine how effective they’ve been.

While Brandify will continue to be developed as a standalone service for small and medium businesses, it will also be integrated into Where2GetIt’s platform for national brands and multi-location services, Patel added.

Where2GetIt CEO Manish Patel is presenting a DEMO today at BIA/Kelsey’s Leading in Local: The National Impact in Atlanta

Microsoft’s Jorgensen: ‘We Are Building Our Muscles’ in Card Linked Space

Card Linked Offers (CLOs) represent a potentially rich opportunity for online and mobile promotions and loyalty. But a lot of work needs to be done before the segment gets seriously underway.

Speaking at the inaugural conference of the CardlinX Association April 7 in Las Vegas, Microsoft GM of Local Advertising Erik Jorgensen noted there are significant opportunities to connect the online world with the offline world, closing the loop for online advertising and loyalty.

There is “broad experimentation with integrated consumer and merchant experiences,” said Jorgensen. “The CPA based ad model highly reasonates with merchants.”

During the past 12 months, Microsoft has launched CLO betas of its Bing Offers in Seattle, Boston and Phoenix. The trials take off on Microsoft’s initial deals efforts, but don’t require pre-payment.

Most of Microsoft’s efforts in the space are focused on the Bing portals – both on the Web and on mobile. Card linked efforts are also included in Bing Local, Bing’s Listings Page and the Bing Search Engine Results Page.

There is also a strong “mobile first” component to the effort. Windows Phone, Skype and Windows 8 are all included in the efforts, which are seen as a marketplace differentiator. “There are five or six places on the phone where we surface offers,“ said Jorgensen.

The company is also sending out targeted emails. “ We are building up our muscles to understand how we target offers,” noted Jorgensen. “The next phase is not just a pull but a push” via intelligent notification.

This post is an excerpt from a full Briefing on The Cardlinx meeting, which is available to BIA/Kelsey clients.

‘The Impact of Big Data on SMB Marketing’: Briefing Excerpt

The “Big Data” revolution has hit every strata of the economy, providing insights into users and customers for everything from B2B materials to entertainment and travel.

But what’s the impact of Big Data on marketing to small businesses? The use of Big Data is very important, and highly applicable to SMBs, suggests Radius VP of Marketing Darren Waddell. If properly applied, it lends itself to market segmentation and more focused leads – something that is critical for sales and marketing organizations as they contend with an unwieldy list of leads.

It is part of a move towards automation, which since the Industrial Revolution, “has been the only way that companies survive,” says Waddell, whose company is working with SMB solution leaders such as Amex, The Home Depot and Gannett. Without such segmentation, economic realities force companies to engage in untargeted “spammy” outbound marketing.

“From a lead generation point of view, this is a massive shift,” adds Waddell. “As an industry, we need to get away from lead gen data providers from the likes of Dun & Bradstreet – which are leads without intelligence — and move towards a thoughtful, differentiated approach to SMB marketing.”

Excerpted from a new Brief for BIA/Kelsey clients: “Building a Better SMB Marketing Machine: Inside the Development of Radius.” Waddell is a featured Big Data speaker at Leading in Local: The National Impact, along with VSplash advisor Neal Polachek and Dstillery VP Lauren Moores.

Street Fight’s Local Data Summit: The Impact of Data on Local

The impact of data on local marketing was Topic #1 during Street Fight’s Local Data Summit today in Denver. Speakers addressed the wide range of data issues that have begun to enhance local marketing and shift local marketing – and even diminish the spending and influence of marketing.

Mobile is the real driver of the new environment. The new era of big data is largely spurred by the technology in the phone, especially radios, said Qualcomm’s Aidoo Osei. In the near future, it will be further driven by sensors in stores , such as Apple’s iBeacon. The combination of in phone tech and in store sensors will create a “continuous user experience,” added Intel’s Greg Turetsky.

Turetsky said the data environment will be greatly impacted by the growing role of indoor intelligence, such as the sensors, which can react to consumers as they walk by with personalized promotions. Just last week, indoor got a huge boost when the FCC mandated that the e911 system should be upgraded to include indoor as well as outdoor. Commercial applications for indoor sensors should follow, he said.

But technologists can’t get too far ahead of themselves. Even at the Local Data Summit…not a single member of the audience said they had yet used iBeacon.

Other views focused on the nascent efforts to leverage location. Major progress has been made since some of the technology began rolling out in 2012, said Placed’s David Shim. It used to be entirely experimental, said Shim. But now brands are coming in with predefined problems. “They ask: can you solve the problem for me?”

Many data issues directly relate to mobile marketing – especially in terms of audience measurement. It used to be all about projecting audiences based on panels, said PlaceIQ’s Drew Breunig. But now—thanks to the influx of mobile users – “ we have populations. And we have the computing resources to deal with the data coming off the populations.” Breunig noted the new environment is enormously richer to today’s focus on geofencing, which tends to underdeliver.

ForwardLine: Taking a Big Data Approach to SMB Marketing (and Capital)


Small business marketing management and back office operations haven’t had much cross over. Perhaps Intuit has worked to marry them together; so have Microsoft and Web.com. Until recently, that was the extent of it.

Now we’re seeing a new batch of companies volunteering to work with SMBs as both marketing helpers and business managers. The rise of online scheduling has made such a marriage much more logical. So has the extension of web site presence management, and leads management.

ReachLocal and GoDaddy, for instance, have crossed the line – in different ways – to eliminate the silos separating marketing and back office ops. Another approach is being taken via ForwardLine. The ten-year old, 60-person company is primarily known for short-term SMB loans and payment processing – and has cleverly linked the two businesses for many customers. Roughly one quarter of ForwardLine’s customers are restaurants. Other large categories include salons, dentists and drycleaners.

CRO David Teichner tells us that ForwardLine is a natural partner because “capital is a key ingredient for SMB growth.” Furthermore, many SMBs renew their relationship with ForwardLine when they need money for new equipment; a new ad campaign; or other reasons. “More than eighty percent of our customers come back for additional funds when a new opportunity comes their way,” says Teichner.

Recently, ForwardLine began structuring strategic partnerships with companies offering services to SMBs. ForwardLine offers its partners data on credit card sales volume and other sales data to give insight into what makes SMB owners tick. This allows ForwardLine’s partners to offer up tailored services for SMBs and demonstrate the ROI.

Teichner, who came to ForwardLine in 2013 from Yowza, a mobile coupons company, adds that “small business owners want to grow their business. They need capital, which ForwardLine provides, but they also want effective marketing services that they can measure. We provide a convenient source of client-side visibility, so that SMB marketers and other service companies can demonstrate the value they are adding.”

IAB Leadership Meeting: CMOs Discuss Internal Impact of ‘Digital First’

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Digital change comes as much from inside the marketing organization as from end users, noted two leading CMOs, who were interviewed at the IAB’s Annual Leadership Meeting today in Palm Desert. The CMOs were Wells Fargo‘s Jamie Moldafsky and Adobe‘s Ann Lewnes.

Moldafsky said that the key to digitizing the staid Well Fargo culture and the company’s 370,000 employees is “to ground everyone in customer insight.” With six billion transactions a year, Wells Fargo has really had to focus on the most important aspect of the digital era: “how real time we need to be thinking,” says Moldafsky.”The hardest part for us is that notion of speed.” The emergence of digital –especially omnichannel – has enabled marketing to “take some risks in the spirit of learning,” she added.

Lewnes said that Adobe made the decision five or six years ago to move as much of our money as possible to digital. “We now spend seventy-four percent of our marketing on digital,” she noted. “Every marketing employee has a ‘digital first’ mentality with no excuses.”

The change over has coincided with the company’s move to an all digital, subscription-based business model. But “the biggest need was the amount of change needed inside the organization,” she said. The data constitutes “a think tank of Web analysis — and is “the “single point of truth” for the whole company. It has lead to making more changes in the last two yearas than the prior 50 years combined. “The only thing I can convince people is that the quantifiable side of marketing is what people want to see.”

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