Mastercard, Visa to Use Purchases in Ad Targeting?

Companies also hope to mine your DNA
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Oct 25, 2011 4:20 PM CDT
MasterCard and Visa are considering ways to link your offline and online lives.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – What you buy in the real world could eventually determine the ads you see online. Visa and MasterCard are studying ways of tracking consumer purchases in order to target online advertising—a plan that could take a heavy toll on online anonymity, the Wall Street Journal reports. One example offered by the Journal: Following a fast-food purchase, a consumer might see weight-loss ads. Firms would then track whether the consumer bought the advertised product.

Another idea seems more sci-fi: Visa has submitted a patent application to use DNA information to help create consumer profiles. MasterCard says it has “extensive experience” tying “anonymized purchased attributes to consumer names and addresses” with other companies’ help. A proposal to use that data for online ads would mean “taking it a level deeper” with a “much more precise targeting mechanism,” says a rep for MasterCard. Click through for the Journal’s detailed overview of MasterCard and Visa plans.

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