Through Affinity Solutions, brands can now target the purchase histories of customers from 4000 banks

The launch of its Marketing Cloud makes these histories available for predictive marketing and sales attribution.

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Affinity Solutions has made its living for nearly two decades by providing loyalty programs to credit and debit card holders through banks.

This means it has the purchase histories of participants who have granted permission for the use of their records when they signed up.

Today, the New York City-based firm is making these purchase histories from customers at 4,000 US financial institutions available to outside brands through the launch of a Purchase-Driven Marketing Cloud.

The Cloud provides real-time data on purchase patterns, so that brands can identify and pitch the most appropriate potential customers. A brand’s own customers are identified, while others are anonymized.

The Cloud also makes it possible to track attribution to individuals, so that Starbucks, for instance, could know if Prospect 123 actually made a purchase after an ad or an email was delivered.

The new Marketing Cloud contains three products: Spend Insights, Buyer Graph and Closed Loop Measurement.

Spend Insights shows aggregates of where customers are shopping. Affinity Solutions President Amit Seth offered the use case of an airline that wanted to know how much air travel its customers do, so it provided a customer list. Affinity Solutions returned aggregates showing how much those customers spend at other airlines, so that airline can tailor its marketing.

Buyer Graph allows a brand to anonymously target individuals whose purchase histories, assessed by machine learning, show a propensity to buy a specific kind of product.

Akin to Cardlytics

The Marketing Cloud can then marry that info to cookie and mobile device IDs in a platform like Acxiom’s LiveRamp, using a connecting data point like an email address to sync up data, and then the brand can pitch them through ads or emails.

Seth pointed out that Affinity Solutions — which primarily offers purchase histories — works with other people-based (i.e., identifiable) profile data platforms like LiveRamp to connect to cookies or mobile device IDs.

The third product in the new Marketing Cloud, Closed Loop Measurements, offers an individual-level attribution service that can verify via purchase records if a specific customer — identified if the data is used as first-party, anonymized if not — made a specific buy after an ad or other marketing was delivered.

The new Cloud has been in beta testing for the last nine months. Affinity said that one beta participant, an unidentified “large home improvement national retailer,” was able to boost sales by nearly 87 percent because it could find and target customers planning home renovations within 30 days, based on machine learning-generated inferences about buying patterns.

Also announced today is a partnership with Shopcom, the addressable ad analytics division of customer data firm Kantar Worldpanel, to target individuals for purchases in 54 product categories via the new Marketing Cloud.

Affinity’s treasure trove of purchase histories is akin to Cardlytics, which last year launched Platform Solutions to offer anonymized purchase profiles to advertisers.

The difference, Seth told me, is that Cardlytics’ software runs inside financial institutions’ firewalls, and thus only offers profiles anonymously and in batches. By contrast, he said, Affinity Solutions manages the loyalty programs outside the banks and can provide real-time data, as well as personally-identified purchase histories when the individuals are customers of a brand.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Barry Levine
Barry Levine covers marketing technology for Third Door Media. Previously, he covered this space as a Senior Writer for VentureBeat, and he has written about these and other tech subjects for such publications as CMSWire and NewsFactor. He founded and led the web site/unit at PBS station Thirteen/WNET; worked as an online Senior Producer/writer for Viacom; created a successful interactive game, PLAY IT BY EAR: The First CD Game; founded and led an independent film showcase, CENTER SCREEN, based at Harvard and M.I.T.; and served over five years as a consultant to the M.I.T. Media Lab. You can find him at LinkedIn, and on Twitter at xBarryLevine.

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