VP-GM Amex Advance, American Express
Last month, American Express launched Amex Advance Personalization Services which leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques to deliver personalization services. These services will enable marketers to customize their target audiences, personalize customer experience and measure marketing campaign performance. To understand more about how machine learning capabilities drive Amex’s Advance Personalization and how the data-driven business leverages DMPs for customer data and intent insights, we chatted with Marc Ginsberg, VP & General Manager, Amex Advance, American Express.
MTS: Tell us about your role at Amex Advance and the team you handle.
Marc Ginsberg: Expanding our ability to help businesses using our data insights and data capabilities in responsible ways is very important to American Express. For years, the company has used our unique data insights and data capabilities to personalize internal, merchant and third-party marketing programs for millions of Card Members around the world.
Amex Advance is a new business division that extends these capabilities beyond American Express Card Members and Merchants to enable all businesses to connect more intelligently with the right customer, at the right time. I manage a team of data scientists and marketing professionals that partner with companies across the advertising, travel, and service industries to help them increase the personalization, relevance, and ROI of their marketing efforts.
Marketers are increasingly looking for solutions that will help them focus their advertising on not just the right audience, but the right people at the right time. The mission of Amex Advance is to be that solution and deliver value across the marketing ecosystem for all consumers and businesses.
MTS: What are the core tenets of Amex Advance Personalization?
Marc: Amex Advance delivers personalization services that are optimized for each brand’s customers. We have four key benefits that are the foundation of all our services:
- Precise Data Insights – American Express is in a unique position in the marketplace — we issue cards to customers, we sign up merchants to accept our cards, and we process all the transactions across our network globally. We call this our ‘closed-loop’ network and this visibility across the payments chain allows us to create deep insights and an understanding of buying trends. This is rare to do at our scale. Amex Advance’s insights are based on the vast majority of the $1 trillion in transactions occurring on the American Express closed-loop network annually.
- Connected Platform – While our insights are unique, the true power lies in our secure platform, which allows for the secure analysis of our data alongside partner data resulting in greater performance. I believe the future of personalization and marketing lies in companies’ ability to safely and securely connect various data sources to tell a complete story.
- Machine Learning Capabilities – We have invested in this area for decades. This data science expertise allows us to use advanced machine learning algorithms to produce predictive consumer spending insights that deliver unparalleled marketing customization.
- Privacy and Security – This is part of our brand and our commitment to our customers. Amex Advance services respect consumers’ privacy and keeps their information safe.
MTS: How do you see the evolution of Data Management Platforms around customer data and intent insights impacting business decisions?
Marc: American Express has always been about better serving our customer’s needs. DMPs, CRM solutions, and Big Data capabilities are enabling us to increasingly deliver on that promise and meet our customer’s growing expectations.
Frankly, consumers are demanding better, more relevant, personalized messages faster than most marketers can deliver. Think about all of the emails you received this holiday season, that you didn’t even read, filling up your inbox — we need to increase relevance and add value to people’s lives. Less is more!
MTS: Is customer engagement the new ‘digital business currency’? How do you meet customer expectations when it comes to sharing data?
Marc: I think we need to be extremely careful and not swing the pendulum too far. Yes, I agree that generally, customer engagement is good, but the new business currency is “currency.”
Ultimately, we need to stay focused on driving positive business outcomes. Engagement is a means by which that happens, for sure, but engagement without results is not a long-term business strategy.
American Express takes its obligation to protect customer data very seriously. As such, all American Express data used within this marketing solution is anonymized and aggregated, and never shared with our distribution partners or their clients. We also do not share any personal information of our Card Members with our partners, including whether or not a consumer is an American Express Card Member.
We recognize people’s attitudes towards targeted advertising continue to shift, since the advertising industry itself is evolving rapidly as a result of digital technology. We want to be transparent with our Card Members about how we’re looking to bring the power of the closed-loop network to consumers outside of American Express, and offer them the flexibility to re-evaluate their attitudes and update their privacy choices with us accordingly whenever they want.
MTS: What would the sales and marketing teams look like in 2020 as modern companies shift to dynamic customer experience management and hyper-personalization?
Marc: Companies need to move exclusively to a customer-centric focus. Today, most companies are organized by channel (Digital, TV, offline, etc.) or by product.
I believe that the marketing teams of the future will be organized by customer segments. Instead of owning a product or a channel, managers may own “Urban Woman 18-25, with children” or “quick service restaurants.”
Now, you are no longer thinking through the lens of a product or channel but through the lens of the consumer’s needs and the brand’s desired action. Once you’re able to diagnose the goals, problems, and needs, you can use all of the different products and channels to build and communicate the right advertising.
Now that we are moving closer to omni-channel communications, we need to evolve the lens with which we think about marketing.
MTS: How critical is it for modern businesses to leverage AI and machine learning capabilities for better data and analytic management?
Marc: Based on the benefits Amex Advance is seeing in our business…I don’t know how you can compete long term without these capabilities. It would be like playing basketball with one hand tied behind your back. It’s that critical.
Amex Advance’s machine learning algorithms told us that when people tip less on their restaurant bills, their chance of switching their cell phone carrier increases. These types of predictive insights are only possible because of the computing power and data science that we have today. And it will only get better. It’s quite an exciting time for buyers, sellers and companies that are embracing these data capabilities.
MTS: Thanks for chatting with us, Marc.
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