SINGAPORE: MasterCard, the financial services provider, has built a "digital and ecommerce engine" to help drive business but its success rests on an emotional engagement with consumers a leading executive has said.

"We have a saying internally that we're putting the 'e' back into ecommerce," Sam Ahmed, svp/head of marketing at MasterCard Asia-Pacific, told Campaign Asia-Pacific. "And that 'e' is emotion.

"Ecommerce, if you look at it from a marketing perspective, is still very dry," he explained. "It's 10% off, [it's] buy one, get one free; it's just very numbers driven."

An early example of the approach MasterCard is developing came last year when, around Mother's Day, it found through its social listening tools that people in Hong Kong were discussing how much they appreciated their parents.

Rather than bludgeon consumers with a campaign offering discounts if they bought a gift for their mother, it instead created an emotional video with no mention of any such deals, but at the end viewers were directed to a Hong Kong gifting site carrying all of its relevant offers.

The company reported that there were 618,000 video views which drove more than 300,000 people to purchase online.

Ahmed also emphasised the need for timeliness, and was critical of existing practices that annoy consumers by targeting them with ads for products and services they have already bought.

"Typically what's happening is you're going away on holiday to Bali and a week later you're getting an offer for Bali."

He outlined how MasterCard was using data, analytics and social listening to identify real-time opportunities to present to partners.

That might mean, for instance, that if it knew three million people in India were interested in travelling to Singapore, it could call up a hotel partner there to see if it wanted to link up.

But if it did, it would need to commit within hours "because the next day those three million eyeballs have gone", said Ahmed.

"That's the speed that I'm talking about. In ecommerce, it's critical."

Data sourced from Campaign Asia-Pacific; additional content by Warc staff