By James R. Hood
So, are you one of those consumers who gets upset about being tracked around the Internet and being asked for your ZIP code at the check-out counter of a bricks-and-mortar store? If so, get a load of this: MasterCard and American Express are stepping up their efforts to sell data on retail transactions to marketers.
Advertising Age recently revealed that the card issuers have been approaching advertising and marketing firms in an attempt to enlarge their client list.
It's a pretty appealing product they're offering: MasterCard alone has data representing 80 billion consumer purchases. AmEx is slicing and dicing its data, making it easier for marketers to reach consumers who are big spenders in specific retail segments such as automotive, fashion and travel.
Both companies insist that the data is aggregated and made anonymous so that individual consumers' names are not revealed.
"We have strict policies in place to protect cardmembersí privacy," Amelia T. Woltering, American Express Director of Corporate Affairs and Communication, told ConsumerAffairs. "American Express does not provide any personally identifiable information or individual transaction information about its cardmembers or a list of its cardmembers to advertisers or business partners."