Targeted Web Ads Tied to Your Credit Card Buys

Pay for a fast food lunch with your credit card then see weight loss ads next time you're online. That kind of outcome is likely under moves Visa and Mastercard are studying.

What's the Latest Development?


Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc. are investigating using what they know about people's credit-card purchases to target online ads for them. One holy grail would be, for example, to show a weight-loss ad to a person who just swiped their card at a fast-food chain—then track whether they bought the advertised products. So instead of your Web ads generally being based on your online activity, they'd also be linked to your bricks-and-mortar world.

What's the Big Idea?

The plan, if implemented, would not only be a technological feat—tying people's Internet lives with shopping activities—but erode Web privacy. "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," writes Emily Steel. After all, 'You are what you buy,' aren't you?

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