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Dollars in the Data

In 2007, Apple introduced the smartphone, Facebook reached 30 million users, and companies in online advertising started targeting ads to Internet users based on data about their individual preferences and interests. Ten years later, a vast landscape of data companies has emerged that consists of thousands of other businesses including Facebook and Google that share and trade data with each other. Linking data from smartphones with the customer data and offline information makes targeting very precise

Analyzing people

Scientific studies show that many aspects of someone’s personality can be inferred from data on web searches, browsing histories, video viewing behaviors, social media activities, or purchases. Analysis of social network profiles can also predict personality traits which are essential in personlization of your message.

There's more to data than Google and Facebook

At its core, online advertising consists of an ecosystem of thousands of companies focused on constantly tracking and profiling billions of people. Every time an ad is displayed on a website or mobile app, a user’s digital profile has just been sold to the highest bidder. In contrast to these new practices, credit reporting agencies and consumer data brokers have spent decades in the business of personal data. In recent years, they started combining the extensive information they have about people’s offline lives with the user databases operated by large platforms and online advertising companies.

Online and offline lives

In addition data directly gathered from individuals about the types of neighborhoods and buildings people are living in to characterize, sort, and categorize people. Overlay offline profiles based on data about the types of websites they surf, the videos they watch, the apps they use, and the geographic locations they visit and you begin to see the strength of data microtargeting.

Digital tracking and profiling

The reason that tracking and profiling has become so pervasive lies in the fact that nearly all websites, app providers, and many device vendors actively share behavioral data. A few years ago most websites began embedding tracking services that transmit user data to third parties into their websites. When a website shows, for example, a Facebook like button or an embedded YouTube video, user data is transmitted to Facebook or Google.


Smartphones are perhaps the biggest contributors to today’s data collection. The information recorded by mobile phones provides detailed insights into a user’s personality and everyday life. Since consumers generally need to have a Google, Apple, or Microsoft account to use them, much of the information is already linked to a major platform’s identifier.

For MasterCard, selling products and services created from information products, including sales of data already represent a considerable and growing share of its revenue. Google recently stated that it captures approximately 70% of credit and debit card transactions in the United States through “third-party partnerships” in order to track purchases.

Connecting online and offline identities

We connect online and offline data to precisely target your most profitable customer without waste. Think of it as digital direct mail.

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