, 22 Jul 2014

Phone-based digital payments haven’t really taken off – in part, because they aren’t much easier to use than credit/debt cards. You’ve still got to take them out of your pocket.
The notable exception is the phenomenon of My Starbucks Rewards loyalty program, which now has 10 million Starbucks customers actively using the mobile app, twice the number of a year ago.

But if “wearables” take off – i.e. smart watches and to a lesser extent, glasses – there could be rapid growth. In fact, payments are the most practical smartwatch feature (aside from telling the time.)

LevelUp leader Seth Priebatsch told Marketwatch that has always been his vision. The company currently provides an Android app, which automatically asks users if they’d like to pay by using the App when they are near favorite merchants.

“What we really always dreamed of was being the largest smartwatch payment network,” said Priebatsch, noting that LevelUp already claims 1.5 million smart phone users, who can pay at 14,000 locations. With wearables, the sky is the limit (perhaps).

Seth Preibatsch talks with Mark Fratrik at a recent BIA/Kelsey conference

Comment »

, 18 Jul 2014

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 with several others. 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 for 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.

Comment »

, 17 Jul 2014

Facebook hasn’t really been a player in ecommerce –Facebook Credits, its games-oriented initiative, was shut down in 2012 after three years of experimentation with virtual currencies. But it continues to test the waters — which is not surprising, given its volume and huge edge in social media and native advertising.

Last year, Facebook began to allow consumers to add credit card information to profiles in order to enable ecommerce transactions. Now, Facebook says it is testing a “Buy Button” with “some” SMBs.

During the test, consumers are providing Facebook with credit/debit card info for PayPal-like purchases on a one-time-only basis. Neither the SMB or Facebook ever get to see the info – all payments are being handled by a third party processor. Consumers could then opt to allow Facebook to make the credit/debit card info part of their permanent profile, using the cards for convenience.

If Facebook expands the effort – which Reuters reports is currently free for merchants — the implications could be significant. For starters, Facebook’s enhancement of its anonymous consumer profile would put Facebook on a collision with Amazon and its one-click purchase system. By focusing on the under-served SMB market for ecommerce – and likely offering a blend of virtual and physical goods — Facebook would also be breaking new ground.

Facebook’s Joseph Devoy is discussing a wide range of SMB initiatives at Leading in Local: SMB Digital Marketing Sept. 22-24. You can register here.

Comment »

, 17 Jul 2014

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 5.21.43 PM

In all the excitement around mobile and location targeted ads, there’s rarely public discussion to actually define ad strategies and formulate tactics. The blogosphere and generalist tech media instead speak in tired jargon about how mobile is changing the world.

While riffing on this marketplace deficiency recently with xAd, we decided to do a webcast to start to establish a playbook for selling location targeted mobile ads. That will start with some level- setting definitions of what we mean by “location targeted mobile ads.”

The goal from there is to evolve the conversation to how location targeted ad campaigns should be sold. We’ve seen some hesitance on the buy side to adopt mobile, so we’ll discuss the messaging that best captures its value; including fusing it with existing media.

This will play out in a role playing exercise between xAd’s Therran Oliphant and myself.  He’ll try to sell me (and my car dealership) a mobile local ad campaign. I’ll put him through the ringer with challenging questions and rebuttals. We’ll have some fun with it.

This will will hopefully personify some of the challenges of selling location targeted mobile ads — and conversely, the messaging that best captures its value proposition.  The webcast is free and we hope to see you there. Register here or click on the image below.

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 5.01.28 PM

Comment »

, 16 Jul 2014

It seems as though almost everyone has been talking about “big data” and analytics lately, and how the use of it can improve efficiency across all sorts off business processes. Much of the conversation has been focused on the benefits for large corporations and enterprises – largely due to the high cost of implementing big data/analytics workflows across entire organizations. However, despite the high costs, SMB service providers have been able to find ways to harness the power of Big Data and analytics to provide similar efficiency benefits to smaller organizations.

In BIA/Kelsey’s Local Commerce Monitor (LCM) survey, “Small Business Plus Spenders” with annual marketing budgets of $75k or more – such as car dealers. medical centers and other larger local advertisers — are all over big data. Plus Spenders are found to be data hounds, showing a strong desire and use for information on media performance, analytics, and customer comments in social media.


SMB Plus Spenders rated analytics as their second highest (at 61 percent) future priority for marketing and advertising. Plus Spenders are keen on incorporating analytics into their marketing mix.

Our LCM data finds that 48 percent of SMB Plus Spenders use their own organic data to analyze the effectiveness of their ad campaigns versus 29 percent who use vendor or third party data. Furthermore, 82 percent of Plus Spenders track the sources of their business leads either frequently or occasionally. This high reading is consistent with the overall priority assigned to Analytics by Plus Spenders.



Our LCM 17 data indicates, plus spender SMBs are keen on monitoring their advertising performance through analytics. Many small companies want to improve their marketing by pinpointing the best sales prospects through social media and other media channels. SMBs can harness data to analyze what customers are saying online to engage in more impactful dialogues with prospective or existing customers because that big data allows them to understand their campaign’s effectiveness.


Comment »