Mastercard has purchased customer data and loyalty platform SessionM. Terms weren’t disclosed but the startup raised almost $100 million over four rounds. 

SessionM is behind loyalty programs for a wide range of companies including Coke, L’Oreal and Chipotle. It uses customer data and numerous behavioral and intent signals to deliver personalized (primarily) mobile offers.

Loyalty 2.0. Mastercard said in its press materials, that “The addition of SessionM will enhance Mastercard’s ability to help brands around the world deliver personalized, real-time offers and comprehensive campaign measurement based on robust, data-driven insights . . . SessionM helps brands create and manage consumer engagement and loyalty programs with industry-leading technology that powers a complete loyalty solution — from data management to campaign execution to program measurement.”

Moving beyond the marketing jargon, why did Mastercard buy SessionM? The deal actually makes perfect sense, as Mastercard seeks to gain an edge against payment card rivals and offer value-added services to its B2B customers.

The acquisition’s rationale. It’s about bringing a lot more data, targeting sophistication and measurement to branded credit card loyalty programs. A SessionM blog post reveals the rationale behind the acquisition:

  • 74% of Americans possess a store credit card; Cardholders receive rewards, discounts and exclusive experiences, while merchants receive a free ad in the customer’s wallet, an additional stream of revenue through credit card fees, and in theory, more ‘sticky’ customers . . . Just having a card to use will increase store sales by some 28% to 30%.
  • Brands can enhance their retention strategy by combining branded credit card loyalty program [and] gain the ability to recognize, reward and improve communications with cardholders, improve customer experience for non-card members, and acquire more cardholders with personalized interactions.
  • Brands that combine a branded label credit cards with a loyalty/rewards program achieve greater results because a single program better reflects the simplicity that customers want and eliminates pain points, such as redemption limitations.

Why we should care. Mastercard has been working with digital marketing platforms for some time, using its transaction and POS data to enable targeting and attribution by third parties, including Google. Now the company will be able to offer a powerful data-driven loyalty program along with branded credit cards to its B2B customers.

That program will not only provide customer insights for personalized offers and targeting to retailers and brands, it will enable closed-loop measurement at the point of sale. SessionM will also drive additional revenue for Mastercard. It’s a pretty compelling proposition all the way around.

About The Author

Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes about the connections between digital and offline commerce. He previously held leadership roles at LSA, The Kelsey Group and TechTV. Follow him Twitter or find him on LinkedIn.