Leveraging Lucrative Loyalty Insights

Paula Thomas, Chief Content Officer, Liquid Barcodes


Many of us have heard the idea that “data is the new oil” – a comment first made in 2006 by Clive Humby OBE, the globally renowned data scientist, mathematician and entrepreneur who famously helped design and build the Tesco Clubcard programme in 1995, the first mass customisation loyalty programme in the world.

And that value has always been apparent to loyalty programme operators who leverage their data to identify better ways to satisfy their customers and drive more lucrative behaviours.

But 2020 has driven online behaviour and demand in such unexpected ways that the advertising industry itself has had to evolve, and one dramatic development that helps brands attract the attention of customers is leveraging the power, permission and personalisation of loyalty programs and customer data.

Amazon Advertising is an impressive example, earning in excess of $14 billion in 2020 with its range of media products as shown below, so it’s no surprise that other retailers are jumping on the media bandwagon, with CVS, Target, Home Depot launching their own media divisions. This week, Walgreens has become the latest to join the industry, described as the “retailer as agency” model.

Amazon is now the third-leading digital ad seller in the US according to eMarketer

Even before the covid pandemic drove consumers online in increasing numbers, Ad Age wrote an article discussing Forrester’s annual predictions report which claimed that “2020 will result in the growth of marketers becoming media players… any retailer with more than 500 million unique monthly site visitors will explore its own media business.”

And so this week it was no surprise to see the launch of Walgreens Advertising Group (WAG), which is a platform of digital solutions that allows brands to access first party data in a way that promises to be simple, legal and hopefully effective.

So here are the key selling points highlighted by WAG:

  • Over 100 million loyalty program members that the brand has a range of contact details for and permission to contact.
  • Over 1 billion daily touch points with customers.
  • 9,000 physical stores throughout the country.
  • Access to SKU level real-time optimization of campaigns based on daily transactions.
  • A range of channels such as digital display on, video, social, streaming audio and email, as well as prominent positioning in various formats in Walgreens stores.
  • WAG is offering third party advertisers a self-serve model, learning from the approach taken by leading digital industry leaders Google and Facebook.
  • Walgreens highlights its use of advanced technology platforms that can help access and unlock the power of their first-party data boasting advanced analytics and modeling capabilities.

Lessons for Loyalty Owners

While loyalty program operators have long practiced the art of “permission marketing“, the concept of the attention available from loyalty program members as a media asset accessible to third party advertisers is still quite new in most industries. A recent podcast interview I conducted recently entitled “The Value of Loyalty Members as a Media Asset” highlighted that sectors such as grocery retailers are more advanced as media owners than perhaps others, with my guest who specialises in this industry sharing an incredible insight that a single solus email campaign by a brand to its members can be valued at up to $250,000!

Key considerations:

  • Privacy laws vary around the world, so loyalty programs considering new revenue streams from partner advertising need to first ensure they have sufficient permissions from members for their data to be used even anonymously. Breaking data protection laws is extremely expensive.
  • Just because a loyalty program CAN earn revenue by leveraging the attention of its members does not mean it’s the right strategy for every program.
  • Campaigns from third party advertisers must be relevant, respectful and a good brand fit, otherwise your unsubscribes will simply burn the media business model out over time.
  • Once these key principles are in place, media revenue does offer the potential for high margin, incremental revenue for any loyalty program.

The Attention War

As marketers, we are only too aware of the challenge of capturing and keeping consumer attention, and as media consumption habits have changed, we have been increasingly relying on social media and search giants to connect us with our target audience.

Now it seems the time has come for retailers to realise the true value of the attention of their members, leveraging the years of investment and relationships they have nurtured to drive new, innovative and potentially profitable revenue growth.

About Us:

Liquid Barcodes is a leading global loyalty and digital marketing technology company specialising in the convenience store and foodservice industries. Our proprietary cloud-based technology platform allow retailers to create and manage their digital marketing campaigns with a proprietary process we call the “customer connection cycle’ to engage, promote and reward customers activities in real-time across digital and media channels.

How we do it:

We have developed the most advanced loyalty and digital marketing technology platform specifically for convenience store and foodservice retailers globally.

Retailers use our self-service dashboard to create and manage loyalty driven marketing campaigns that increase purchases with their existing customers, as well as effectively target and acquire new customers through partners or paid media channels.

One core component of live loyalty is gamification. We have gamified branding, loyalty and promotions. We believe this approach is essential in order to get customers’ attention and ultimately truly engage them with repeatable actions thereby winning their loyalty.

Check out some of our exciting/proven results here:

About Me:

Paula Thomas

Chief Content Officer, Liquid Barcodes and Loyalty Podcaster

With over twenty-five years marketing experience, I specialise in loyalty marketing articles and podcasts. In addition to working with Liquid Barcodes, my clients have included Telefonica O2 Priority, Three Mobile, Electric Ireland, Allied Irish Bank and The Entertainer Group (UAE), as well as Avios – the global points currency for some of the world’s top airlines. I am also a former judge for the Loyalty Magazine Awards and proud host of the “Let’s Talk Loyalty” podcast – the industry’s first podcast for loyalty marketing professionals.



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