Surge Spending For Seasonal Advertising

Merchants selling their products online face some of the same challenges associated with every other seasonal business—and then some. A seasonal surge in advertising spend can mean spending as much in a single weekend as might be spent in a normal month. It’s not uncommon for a credit card provider, or your bank, to flag that spending as something unusual and turn off the card.

“Surge spending” might not be a common phrase, but it perfectly describes the needs of eCommerce brands during their peak seasons.

You Shouldn’t Need Multiple Credit Cards To Keep Ads Running During Your Busy Season

Banks and traditional credit card providers don’t understand the needs of their customers who are spending advertising dollars on Google, Facebook, or one of the other digital ad networks. Because of this, they make it difficult for brands spending a lot of money promoting their products. Many advertisers need to get creative, just to keep their advertising working.

“It took four cards, at $250,000 each (Bank of America’s highest spending limit), to reach the million dollar credit line I needed to keep campaigns active through the month,” said Steward Wagner, CMO at LiftFoil. “I would use a card up to $250K and then that particular card would become dead to me until the payment cycle was completed. I’d go through each card like that until the end of the month. It worked pretty well until last year when even that wasn’t enough.”

This is a huge issue for successful marketers trying to scale their advertising. Sean Frank at Ridge Wallet describes his business as a cash flow positive company, doing nine figures a year, and complains that the bank is very hard to deal with and doesn’t understand or really care about their credit card needs. “Chase is very hard to deal with, like most banks,” he says. “Even if you’re doing $20 million or $50 million a year, they really don’t care about your account.

“We bank with Chase and had a normal Chase credit card with a $100,000 spending limit. We would sometimes spend more than $100,000 a day in online marketing,” said Frank. “To keep our ads running, we were paying off the balance every day and had to switch to a debit card over the weekend so the card wouldn’t get declined. Chase doesn’t process credit card payments on the weekend, so this was the only way we could ensure our ads kept running; because we were spending so much.”

Surge Spending Isn’t A New Challenge For Card Providers, They Just Don’t Know How To Address It

Every day for six years Jim Crimella, media buyer and Director of Internal Brands at ShineOn, started his day with the same 30-minute (sometimes longer) phone call. First, he would call his credit card provider, CapitalOne, and then he would conference in his bank, Bank of America. His $100,000 spending limit was the highest limit CapitalOne offered, but it wasn’t enough to keep his ads running, so every morning he called to pay down the card so his business could keep advertising.

“The way most credit cards work just doesn’t meet the needs of digital advertisers,” he said. “If I paid my balance on Monday it would take until Wednesday for my payment to post. In other words, I didn’t have the ability to spend on that card until Thursday morning so I went two days before I could use that card again, even though I was paying off my balance every single day.”

Crimella was juggling four credit cards and a PayPal account to keep ad networks happy and paid. “And my business was doing well,” he says. “I had cash flow and a healthy, growing business.”

“I tried for six years to convince the bank and CapitalOne to do something to fix this for me,” said Crimella. “I was spending between $4 million and $11 million every year and Bank of America didn’t care about me. I’d sometimes spend 20 minutes on hold with them and still made no headway over the years. It never got any better, and … their on-hold music didn’t change during that entire time.”

Traditional Credit Cards Just Don’t Fit The Modern Economy By Accommodating Surge Spending

For advertisers, the modern economy means dealing with Facebook, Google, or other algorithm-based digital ad platforms. The algorithms are weighted for the most recent data, so if a payment fails in the middle of a campaign because the card provider misinterprets surge spending and shuts off the card, the algorithm stops. Even if you’re able to turn it back on and rejoin the auction, it won’t continue the same way it did before you got booted from the auction.

It can also cost you extra to get back into the auction. In fact, there’s a 70% chance it won’t work the same way it was before. This can get very frustrating, and expensive, for eCommerce brands. The worst part is, it’s likely not the advertiser’s fault.

The card providers don’t really understand what you need and still look at an advertiser’s needs the same way they look at every other business’ needs—although they are very different. What’s more, I think it’s safe to say the ad platforms have become almost too big to fail, despite how kludgy their internal systems can sometimes be. For example, if Facebook shuts down your ad account and you have only one payment method with other ad accounts, it can shut everything down. All of this makes it difficult for advertisers. 

Advertisers need to spend when and where they’ll find profit, which isn’t always predictable. Sometimes, because of the inherent problems in the ad networks and their credit cards, it’s easier to walk away from an opportunity to increase ad spend (and profits) than run the risk of a card failure that could shut a campaign down altogether. I don’t think there is anyone who would consider this a viable growth strategy.

A Different Approach For The Modern Economy

Advertisers need an easy-to-use solution that keeps ads running without hitting arbitrary-feeling spending limits that handicap their ability to scale ad spend; and profits.

Most business or corporate credit card companies want to force businesses into a calendar month reconciliation, which works fine for some businesses, but doesn’t work for advertisers with high daily spending limit requirements that need a more flexible approach. A monthly reconciliation or a one-size-fits-all approach just doesn’t fit.

Because scaling an eCommerce business often means scaling ad spend, advertisers need a card that allows them to meet their growth objectives.

“CapitalOne didn’t really care about helping my business grow,” said Matt Mcallister, CEO of Flavored PB Co, “Partnering with feels like we’re working with someone who wants to see us succeed. The others want our credit card payment. They just don’t have our back, but does. If you don’t believe me, try it out. You might need to experience it to really understand.”

Visit to schedule a demo and learn more.

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