Voucher codes in bank statements – a step too far? I don’t think so. In fact there’s good evidence to suggest that this is a far less intrusive form of consumer profiling than we are used to. That’s a bold statement, let me explain.

We have already gone too far…

Millions of pounds are spent every year by global advertisers wanting to profile their audiences. Without this profiling, display advertising would struggle to generate a positive ROI. Data providers like Experian, Axiom, CACI and hundreds of other strategic marketing companies, sell our data to advertisers to help them target us more effectively; these data providers composite everything from ISP and cookie data through to DVLA, Land Registry and electoral role records. 

There are data businesses in the UK that have at least 500 data points on us consumers. These data sets are bought and sold by expert statisticians who model them to create powerful consumer profiles to be used by advertisers.

In those we trust

Most of us would be concerned about how much of our personal data is traded behind our backs if we knew the full extent of the practice. Of course the large majority of these data businesses are highly reputable and manage our personal information with the upmost care, no, really they do. But I think they have gone too far already. Let me qualify what’s ‘too far’ in my opinion.

Too far, is compiling data from multiple sources that triangulate me precisely as a consumer – even if this information is never used to target me individually. This is data that was collected without me really knowing how it was going to be used. Did I give permission to the Land Registry or DVLA to use my data for marketing purposes? If I did, it wasn’t intentional. 

Enter Cardlytics and ‘Card Linked Marketing’. Cardlytics are part owned by Aimia which also owns Nectar UK. ‘Cardlytics uses individual financial card information, captured and secured behind the financial institutions own firewalls, to deliver personalised offers from its merchants to the banks customers via trusted electronic banking channels including mobile, email and online banking’.

Highly targeted

So what does Cardlytics offer advertisers that’s new? The ability to deliver more targeted advertising directly into consumers’ bank statements based on their transactional data. You can see how this could be highly appealing to manufacturers of high ticket products looking to qualify their audiences based on disposable income levels, for instance. You have to wonder if this could be a way into performance marketing for premium brands that have traditionally turned their back on incentivised sales which are deemed to cheapen their brands.

Much of the advertising seems to be of the more everyday variety however. Starbucks vouchers or game rental offers. Cardlytics maybe be exercising caution and attempting to avoid advertising that is intrusive or obviously targeted at consumers based on their individual information as they learn more about responses to this new channel.

With insight into the purchase history of 70% of US households, Cardlytics has a lot to offer advertisers in the US and they are likely to catch the eye of UK advertisers as they build their network over here.

You could still argue that this is the ultimate intrusion, advertisers gaining access to our bank accounts, but money is an emotive issue and if you look at this objectively you might come to the following conclusion;

‘My transactional data never leaves my bank. No one is trading it and it is contained within the firewall of an institution I trust with my money and financial wellbeing…er, well, sort of.’

This feels like a step in the right direction to me.

A new era

So will Card Linked Marketing usher in a new era of trust between consumer and advertiser?

Transactional data is the acid test of what we really buy, so should in theory require less enrichment from third party sources. No business knows more about what we buy than Quidco, whose analysts specialise in creating campaigns for clients based on their members’ actual consumption of targeted offers. Quidco’s new card link product allows members to register their credit and debit cards to receive rewards for purchases made in the high street.

Andy Andreou, Quidco’s commercial director, said he believes that serving highly relevant offers based on actual purchase behaviour is the key to creating trust among Quidco’s members.

Retailer Ellis Brigham, who works with Webgains, has recently increased the number of exclusive customers by 163% during the first three months of offering card-linked rewards through Quidco. Not only did their purchases rocket, so did their revenue by 305%. This is because Quidco has the capability to see what these shoppers want and offer them deals that ‘can’t be left on the shelf’.


The rich picture that transactional data paints of our actual spending behaviour has to be a good thing for advertisers and consumers alike, but the use of our transactional data brings with it a hefty responsibility on the part of the intermediaries and financial institutions involved. Consumers will simply not tolerate the misuse of their financial data in the way we have seen demographic and behavioural data permissions flouted.

In short, I don’t think this is a step too far, I think it could be a step toward more intelligent permission based marketing.