Forget the merger of Amazon and Google into Googlezon.

Here’s a combo that has more immediate potential for harm.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Using Credit Cards to Target Web Ads

The two largest credit-card networks, Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc., are pushing into a new business: using what they know about people’s credit-card purchases for targeting them with ads online.

Their plans, if implemented, would represent not only a technological feat—tying people’s Internet lives with shopping activities—but also an erosion of the idea of anonymity on the Web. It’s an effort by the two companies to profit by selling access to the insights they gather about people with every credit-card transaction.

The Journal also provides this helpful graphic:


MasterCard says the pitch it made to advertising agencies earlier this year was just “exploratory conversations,” and that it “now is pursuing a plan to sell marketers an analysis of anonymous, aggregated data sorted into marketing “segments,” such as people with a high propensity to be interested in international travel.”

Regardless, MediaPost reports that the alarms have sounded on Capitol Hill, where Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) has contacted both Visa and MasterCard to ask about their intentions.

Both, of course, say they’re honorable.

John R. Carroll is media analyst for NPR's Here & Now and senior news analyst for WBUR in Boston. He also writes at Campaign Outsider and It's Good to Live in a Two-Daily Town.
John R. Carroll has 305 post(s) on Sneak Adtack