UnionPay's data arm collaborates with a global advertising network to combine card transaction and consumer behavior data

Written by Denis Suslov || February 17 2016

In January 2015, UnionPay Smart, a China UnionPay company specialized in business intelligence, customer profiling and online marketing, announced an agreement with Isobar China, a part of global Top-5 advertising conglomerate Dentsu Aegis. Together with Isobar China, UnionPay Smart will build a data management platform (DMP) targeting online advertising.

The platform will combine UnionPay Smart's consumer profiles with browsing and search data shared by Isobar's advertising publishing clients. The new service will allow advertisers to co-leverage consumer insights and buying processes, optimizing audience targeting for publishers to improve returns on advertising spending.

The deal is remarkable in a number of ways. First, it is one of the first China-based collaborations between a financial data player and the media that combines consumer data from multiple sources to improve advertising efficiency. The two sectors had data that described consumer behavior from different perspectives and how it would work more effectively if combined, but it had never happened before. Though it is unclear how much access UnionPay Smart actually has to overall transaction data from its parent UnionPay, in theory, China UnionPay could leverage a wealth of information on buying behavior. If that is combined with observations that Isobar has on pre-payment behavior, advertisers will now have a complete picture of buying patterns starting from the first marketing message and ending with an actual purchase.

Second, the global nature of Isobar and international expansion ambitions of China UnionPay may make the partnership "a perfect marriage" if Isobar helps the Chinese card network to grow abroad. Though, it is unclear whether the operations will be focused in purely domestic market or will include global expansion as well. Focus on China is more likely as the majority of data owned by the CUP is based on domestic transactions. In any case, the deal shows how new opportunities for Sino-foreign business ventures emerge as China's economy transforms.

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