As I was wiring money at my local Bank of America branch today, I have noticed that the most aggressive advertising that is currently being done inside the branch is one for Add It UpTM program. It appeared to be a cashback program where “you can earn up to 20% cash back on top of retailers’ discounts and your credit or debit card rewards”. More at www.bankofamerica.com/deals:
You have to be a user of Bank of America’s Online Banking to enroll. The two key selling points are: (i) enrollment is free, and (ii) it gives you instant access to cash back “at over 300 online retailers”.
Needless to say that this got me extremely interested, and as soon as I got home, I enrolled in the program and did some testing. Guess what? My intuition hasn’t failed me. The whole Add It UpTM program functions as an incentive/cashback program with an affiliate marketing base. I wrote about the different types of affiliate websites the other day. This one is a classic example of a “rebates- or cashback-oriented affiliate website”. Here are just two quick examples to illustrate things visually:
If Bank of America customers want to shop at Dell.com, they go to the “Computers” section (see the above-quoted image), and then click the Dell logo, which leads them to this page:
The “Shop Now” (classic affiliate call-to-action) sends them to Dell.com, and in the address bar of their browser they will see a URL that will be similar to the one I saw:
The highlighted part shows that Bank of America is running the Dell’s add through their Commission Junction (CJ) affiliate program.
Now, let’s try Overstock.com now. Again, we locate it in the appropriate category on the right-hand sidebar, click the Overstock’s logo, and land on:
Upon clicking that “Shop Now” button, we go directly to Overstock.com’s homepage, and the address bar displays the following URL:
Again, obviously an affiliate link (through Overstock.com’s LinkShare-based affiliate program). The afsrc=1 parameter is also in place here.
So, banks are now turning into incentive affiliates, appealing to their customers* by offering them a convenient way to earn cashback on online purchases.