Proof meets pudding — perhaps? If Empyr’s new platform lives up to its promises, brands will soon be able to only pay for mobile ads that actually drive offline sales in their stores.
On Tuesday, Empyr revealed a new performance marketing platform that it claims can verify when campaigns send customers to brick-and-mortar locations to make purchases. The promise is that it would let marketers better focus their spending on ads that deliver verified foot traffic.
This has the potential to help marketers adopt business modes other than paying for clicks and impressions — but these are still early days.
The CPR (cost-per-revenue) platform from brings together customer rewards and card-linked tech to reveal when digital ads lead to real-world revenue. “One of the holy grails of Internet is whether you can track somebody from seeing an offer online to walking into an actual store and making a purchase,” says Empyr CEO and founder Jon Carder.
Location-based technology such as beacons already exist to indicate when consumers enter or pass by stores, but Empyr says its platform goes further by proving when purchases were made. This is done through the cooperation of debit and credit card companies Visa, MasterCard, and American Express to track the transactions, Carder says.
Merchants who opt into the program put out deals such as cash back or other offers for consumers. Empyr distributes these offers among online publishers such as Yelp. If a consumer sees the ad and wants to claim the benefits, they click on the link and then synch up the debit or credit card they plan to use to make the purchase. No additional coupon or code is needed after that. The consumer just goes to the store and buys the product. “They get the reward automatically,” Carder says.
Admittedly, card-link offers are not new, but he says Empyr’s platform takes the concept in new directions with the potential for lasting effects. Putting this service together, Carder says, required collaboration with credit card companies, who are the only entities outside of banks that have real-time purchase data.
It took some wheeling-and-dealing and careful vetting to gain access to such information. In prior years, it was necessary to run card-link programs through banks, Carder says. However, websites and apps could not run such programs because they did not have access to the data. That left tech companies who wanted to run their own card-link programs out of the loop, he says.
Eventually the credit card companies embraced the idea of sharing transaction data with third parties to run card-linked offers on their own apps and websites. That gave Empyr the opening it sought to build up its service. Along the way, Carder’s company has been through a bit of a transformation, turning loyalty campaigns into data play. Once Empyr gained access to real-time data from Visa, MasterCard, and American Express to run card-linked offers, Carder says his company went to work on a platform to let others, such as Coupon.com and Yelp, access the data.
This is all still just one element of the blurring of online and offline commerce. Despite the fact that many consumers make purchases online, Carder says most retail revenue continues to be generated offline. “The stats are around 93% of all commerce is still done in-person in physical stores,” he says.
Even in the era of Amazon’s e-tailing dominance, real world retail remains the bedrock of commerce. Empyr wants to link the digital and concrete worlds, but Carder says there is no silver bullet that totally eliminates the cost-per-click or cost-per-impression market. “We don’t solve all the issues of connecting online to offline,” he says. Merchants from major hardware chains to local restaurants could take advantage of the CPR platform, Carder says. He believes this innovation is only the beginning for connecting the ROI directly to in-store sales. “There will be a lot of cool technologies like this that will be able to track through the revenue,” he says. “This just happens to be one of the first.”
Joao-Pierre Ruth is a Street Fight contributor.