SAN FRANCISCO: Visa has increased the proportion of its marketing budget that is spent on digital from 10% to "36 to 40%" in the last two-and-a-half years.

Addressing the 10th annual ad:tech San Francisco conference, Antonio J. Lucio, the payments firm's global cmo, said the decision to prioritise online has had tangible business results.

"We've had to move digital from the periphery to the centre of our program," he said. "[And] we've been able to meet all our brand-equity and financial goals."

But prioritising digital marketing has not come easily for the firm.

Visa's digital team, Lucio explained, was formerly little more than "a laboratory with a budget".

He added: "We were winning all sorts of digital awards, but we were not moving the needle on the brand, we were not integrating it into the total [marketing] process. We had to dismantle the digital team."

Visa's leap into the interactive ecosystem, Lucio continued, was largely driven by the needs of the brand's top three core groups: affluent consumers, e-commerce practitioners, and cross-border travellers.

"We had to build a directional case for the digital business," Lucio said.

"But we didn't have enough facts to provide the right [goal]."

From an operational perspective, Lucio said that the initiative needed to recognize Visa's need to change the nature of consumer engagement from purely transactions to "comprehensive social experiences."

Visa works with an international network of 16,000 financial institutions and 30m merchants who process $5.1tn in transactions every year.

"Our [marketing] objective is to drive actions into transactions by providing the rational and emotional benefits that our brand provides," Lucio added.

"That's what we do."

Data sourced from Warc