The two biggest names in credit card processing, Visa and MasterCard, are both planning on merging the online and offline data profiles of their customers. The companies are researching methods for using their card holders shopping habits to create targeted online advertising, according to a recent report by The Wall Street Journal.
This blending of online and offline behavior would break new ground for the credit card industry. The companies intend to use card holders usage data to create profiles, which would then be used to target ads specifically designed to appeal to each individual customer based on his prior online behaviors and habits.
The data used to create a profile could come from several places. There are databanks that collect this type of information as do search engines and credit bureaus. However, there are restrictions on how this data can be used. MasterCard has its proposal on hold due in part to such restrictions. A negative consumer reaction also has the company rethinking its plans in this area.
The plans for targeted advertising at both MasterCard and Visa are in the earliest planning stages. The technology needed to create, deliver and track this information is still being developed. Both companies are emphatic is stating that they are in no way attempting to match specific purchasing behavior to particular customers or to invade privacy in any way.