Exclusive Q&A: How Cardlytics (and Big Data) is Changing Consumer Engagement

March 17, 2015         By: Kevin Xu

Cardlytics is partnering with banks and retailers to better engage consumers. They’re taking consumer data and turning that into a tool to drive greater sales and spending. We speak with Kasey Byrne, Chief Marketing Officer, and Marc Ginsberg, President US Advertising, about how big data and analytics are changing the way banks, businesses, and consumers operate.


Kevin Xu:  Let’s start off with a brief introduction to Cardlytics?

Kasey Byrne:  Cardlytics is a big data and technology company. We have true partnerships with more than four hundred banks, access to consumer transaction streams and spend data for up to about seventy percent. And that means seventy percent of U.S. households, which means that we can see transactions, past purchase histories, of millions and millions of consumers. We use that to help retailers and restaurants reach those consumers through their online mobile banking channels.

We use the data to target consumers and we use it on the far side to measure. So we have a really, really interesting virtual circle, which is what I like to say. The banks win because they have a way of accessing data that creates a product that increases their customer loyalty. Retailers like the product because they can target very precisely on past purchase streams and it turns out the past can be the best predictor of the future and as a result they can really message and provide offers to consumers that are very relevant and useable. And consumers win because the core product appears as a bank rewards program, so they, by using the product, can save money on everyday purchases. It’s a really great use of data to bring a winning advertising product to all three of those customers, all three of those players, rather.

Marc Ginsberg:  I think as it relates to kind of what we’ve talked about, about kind of an in-store attribution, I read your Discover article recently that you put out this whole game to not only be able to put ourselves in a position where we could impact things in a pretty significant way, but do it at scale, I think that’s what’s separating a lot of what we’re doing today in the field.

We see these million households where they’re spending offline, we’re able to understand the impact of digital advertising that will be serving people whether it be display ads or mobile ads or ads within their bank statement. And we don’t use any algorithms, we don’t use any mobility data to determine the likelihood that money was spent in store, we actually have the data to understand exactly when and how much money was spent in-store after someone saw one of our advertisements.


It seems like there’s pushback when it comes to gathering this data from consumers because obviously nobody likes being spied upon or having their purchasing history being used for marketing purposes. So, how do you guys take yourselves out of the equation and just become an invisible to the consumer for instance, like Google?

Kasey:  What Google found is that retailers do want these digital to in-store attributions and they launched a new product recently that uses for their advertisers if the store itself has their location information enabled and the consumer has location data enabled on their phone, that what they’re able to do is tie the consumer’s location and if they’re seeing an ad, their location is close to a store that participates in the program. And somewhat they’re inferring to an algorithm I believe that if the consumer’s there enough and stays long enough there that a purchase might have been made. We find this really interesting for a couple of reasons.

One is that they’re really piecing together a bunch of things that really banks already have, which is location and purchase information and banks protect that quite securely. But also, it’s entirely an opt-in model on both sides so it’s pretty hard to get to scale. I think that the attempt to do this is a preexisting indication of how important it is for their advertisers to get to that last mile, right, close that last little bit of a loop of how do you really understand if there’s been a purchase that has been made.

Our model is pretty different and it’s been built from the beginning with the idea of consumer privacy in mind. I mean like for the payments, there’s probably not any question of understanding how seriously privacy protection is taken by banks. And so our model is a distributed system with software installed behind our bank partner’s firewalls, specifically to make sure that the transaction stream is completely separate from any PII that’s first level of protection. And then, secondly, the advertising itself comes through and appears to the consumer within their mobile banking environment that’s completely branded and controlled and providing it to them from their bank, which is a pretty trusted partner in this. So, our model is really this design to provide that kind of protection to the consumer and also provide an environment that is safe and that they can look at directly themselves, if they’re online or on their mobile banking application.


Can you name some of your partner banks?

Kasey:  Sure. Our largest and probably best known is Bank of America. Bank of America is one of our bigger partners, and the BankAmeriDeals’ program is a white label version of what Cardlytics provides.

Mark:  Yeah, there are some big banks on the horizon we’re going to be working with. I can’t speak to that just yet, but the big ones are key in their regions, and Bank of America of course. And then over in the UK, we work with Lloyds Banking Group as well as Santander.


Can you speak to some of the trends we’re seeing, especially in the mobile front?

Kasey:  The interesting thing about all the mobile wallets that there are, what they are trying to do is pull together not only the payment stream, but a number of other things on the device. Our system works with most of them. Actually, I think I was the lead and last user of Square Wallet here in California. I loved it to death. And what I did with Square Wallet, I had my Bank of America, my BankAmeriDeals into this as well, but our product which is, especially with the bank and the bank issued cards, is hand in glove with most of the wallet systems. And so there are a lot of ways to kind of bring these things together. They don’t have to be either or.

At the risk of being a curmudgeon about this, I’m fond of saying this, the thing about the mobile wallet is that it fixes a non-problem. Yeah, if I happen to be out with just my phone, which happens once in a while when I forget my wallet, it was nice to have Square Wallet, which is why I used it. But it’s not materially easier for me to get my phone out and get it to work with the payment system at the point of sale with a clerk who is usually unfamiliar with how it works. It’s not easier to do that than it is to pull out my credit card, and I think that my observation is that all of these payment systems are not terribly intelligent in an industry where we still have that point of sale friction.


Okay. So it seems like you’re providing a lot of value to basically every stakeholder in not just payments, but consumer culture. I think that was very enlightening. Do you guys have anything else to add?

Kasey:  Yes. I would agree we have a really interesting product that wins all the way around the circle and again, ties digital advertisers to in-store sales, which is pretty unique. So thanks for the chance to update you on this.

Marc Ginsberg, President US Advertising
Marc Ginsberg is responsible for all Cardlytics advertising and insights relationships, including sales, account management and analytics, as well as advertiser product and network optimization. Marc has over 15 years experience in sales leadership, consulting and general management. Most recently, Marc led the Commercial division of DIRECTV in El Segundo, California where he was responsible for setting their place based media strategy. Prior to that, Marc served as Vice President of Business Development for Catalina Marketing Corporation, and he started his career at Procter & Gamble and later worked as a Manager at Deloitte Consulting where he led marketing and product development strategy projects in the retail and travel markets. Marc holds an MBA from The Anderson School at UCLA and a BS in Decision Information Sciences from the University of Florida.

Kasey Byrne, Chief Marketing Officer
Kasey Byrne is a seasoned strategy, marketing, and communications professional, with experience as both a consultant and executive in advertising and technology companies. At Cardlytics, Kasey leads all aspects of marketing, both to advertiser clients and financial institution partners. Prior to Cardlytics, Kasey worked as a strategy and brand consultant, focused on high tech and early stage growth businesses. Kasey was the Chief Communications Officer of Overture Services, Inc., the pay-for-performance search pioneer, where she oversaw all of the company’s communications, investor relations, and public relations. Earlier Kasey was with McKinsey & Company specializing in technology, financial services, and organizational performance. Kasey began her career as a software engineer working with both Hewlett-Packard and Digital Equipment Corporation, and holds an MS in Management from the Sloan School of Management at MIT and a BS in Engineering from Cornell University.