Marketing Payments In A Mobile Age

MasterCard CMO Raj Rajamannar has observed major changes in advertising as the practice has moved from digital into mobile. But what’s even more important than mobile, he says, is mobility. On the eve of speaking before the Mobile Media Summit @ Mobile World Congress, Rajamannar discussed the present and future of marketing in an ever-increasing mobile world, and how MasterCard, with its MasterPass and Priceless Surprises App, plans to contribute with leading-edge payment products.

As the CMO of MasterCard, Raja Rajamannar is responsible for the company’s advertising, sponsorships, promotions, research, insights, and digital and consumer marketing initiatives worldwide. His extensive background in payments and marketing led him to be a keynote speaker for the Mobile Media Summit at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on March 4.

Just prior to that appearance, Rajamannar went on the record to share some of his thoughts about the future of marketing and advertising.

As advertising has evolved, first into the digital space and now the realm of mobile, Rajamannar has observed three major changes in the practice.

The first one he points to is omnichannel interaction of consumers. Whereas at one time in history – “the distant past,” as Rajamannar says – consumers interacted with a single screen and only at certain times – television in prime time — today’s consumer interacts with multiple screens – television, computer, smartphone, tablet – at least one of which is always active. Rajamannar remarks that “the concept of prime time is no longer sensible. Marketers today have to think about a seamless brand experience across [multiple] screens in a way that is not repetitious but complementary in a contextually appropriate fashion.”

The second major change that Rajamannar highlights is the targeted fashion in which companies are presently able to reach consumers. While digital and social media platforms allow marketers to reach “zillions” of consumers in an economical and timely manner, Rajamannar cautions that it is “extremely difficult to leverage these new digital marketing capabilities to engage with them and build brand affinity. The difference between consumer reach and consumer engagement is a distinct and critical point for marketers to understand.”

Thirdly, Rajamannar sees data as the major component driving the evolution – or  “revolution,” he offers – of advertising. The “unbelievable amount” of data that is available, Rajamannar says, allows a respectful and insightful marketer to learn from his consumers and adjust campaigns in real time. He finds the capability to be “quite astounding.”

Looking to the future of marketing and advertising, the three points mentioned above are those which Rajamannar is most excited about. In particular, he calls the ability to leverage data-driven insights in real time “a marketer’s dream.”

“What’s available today is so precise,” he continues, “and if you know how to use it, you can deliver consumer experiences in the most compelling way. Thanks to the digital transformation, we now have the ability to immediately learn how effective or ineffective our programs are, and course correct in real time. This then has the potential to turn the over democratized consumer reach into more valuable consumer engagement.”

Rajamannar describes the potential of real-time data analysis as “an unbelievable canvas [on which] to paint. There are endless possibilities.”

While many brands are focused on becoming mobile first, Rajamannar somewhat disagrees with that priority.

“It’s actually not about mobile first,” he says, “it’s about digital first.”

Rajamannar calls back his earlier observation that “prime time no longer exists because it’s all the time” to illustrate the scope and breadth of how consumers’ interaction with media has been transformed.

“Whether on mobile, tablet, TV, viewing live stream or offline, pausing in-between or watching a full view, consumers choose the way they want to watch and interact with media,” he says. “Brands that design for mobile-first are missing the boat. Marketing strategies should be designed with consumer connectivity and mobility – not just mobile – in mind.”

Rajamannar adds that at MasterCard, “digital first is not only for marketers, but also product. The confluence and integration of product and marketing is pretty unique at MasterCard and something few companies have.”

MasterCard’s mobile payment technology, MasterPass, is gaining momentum as major merchants continue to integrate it. Speaking to how the consumer experience is affecting the marketing of mobile payment technology, Rajamannar calls it “a very exciting time.”

He describes the digital transformation toward mobile as “the biggest change in payments since the introduction of plastic.” Not only does mobile technology make payments simpler, more convenient and more secure, it offers to consumers the somewhat intangible but always appealing “cool factor.”

Rajamannar sees mobile technology as a fundamental asset in delivering value to consumers “before, during and after the payment transaction…in many unique ways.”

That opportunity applies not only to MasterPass but also, as Rajamannar points out, to MasterCard’s integration of Priceless Surprises during the launch of Apple Pay at last year’s MLB World Series.

Priceless Surprises – the company’s marketing platform that rewards customers with unexpected gifts, upgrades and experiences – celebrated its one-year anniversary on March 4.

MasterCard is presently working with the mobile advertising network Kiip to turn the successful campaign into its own standalone app. Expected to be released in the coming weeks, the Priceless Surprises App will communicate with MasterCard cardholders about events and opportunities via push notifications as well as offer relevant in-app activities.

“Marketers have always strived for ways to surprise and delight consumers,” says Rajamannar, “however, not until Priceless Surprises was launched, has a global brand cracked the code in making it the essence of an entire marketing platform –  we’ve taken the concept and truly made it a year-round phenomenon.”

“Through one surprise at a time,” he continues, “we aim to deliver Priceless Surprises at scale in a contextually relevant and real-time manner. We’ve pushed a lot of boundaries to date, but it’s the insights and mobile technologies available today that will get us closer to our goal of enabling delightful experiences for MasterCard cardholders.”

Click the below interactive image to view some of MasterCard’s top Priceless Surprises: