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Credit cards make online offers based on customers’ surfing habits

[Friday, April 1st, 2011]

Card companies are now using many high-tech marketing tools, which let them make online offers to customers depending on their surfing habits. This would mean that two people with the same card would see different offers being made by the card company from the same site and at the same time. This might seem a bit odd, but issuers say that it is part of a strategy where the deals offered will suit each individual respectively.

The discrepancies may sometimes be a result of random marketing test, but at other times these offers will vary as the websites would be tailoring the information on the basis of what they assume they know about you.

Just in the way other companies do business, card companies are also trying to strike a balance where they will personalize their sites as well as protect the users’ privacy.  Card companies want to make offers that are interesting to their clients.  They wish to offer frequent travelers the travel rewards cards and at the same time they want to take care not to freak people out by making the choices seem too personal, although the technological advances will help them make a few guesses with regard to your income as well as interest based on the surfing habits.

There are some tech companies that are compiling databases based on the individual’s Internet search histories. These are then cross-referred against other data and then predictions are made about the sort of products that people might buy etc. The moment someone visits a certain webpage, the data can be exchanged quickly and personalized offers could be made from the host site.

Ten of the major US card companies were found to have employed technologies where they could access detailed information about the visitors who come to that website. This happens with the aid of the ‘Cookies’ that will store bits of information on the website and the computer will remember you during future visits.

At least 9 out of 10 credit card companies had exchanged information with websites outside and all of them had placed cookies on the computers of these visitors.

What you can do?

  • Avoid targeted ad networks, which link the ads to your browsing pattern.
  • Always delete the Internet search history as well as the cookies through the browser.

Taking a few steps will help safeguard your privacy and help in making better choices.

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