MasterCard Sells Customer Data for the Holidays

Social networks like Facebook and search engines like Google are already exploiting data collected from users to target advertising, and now it looks like credit card companies have begun getting into the act. Whatever privacy advocates may say about data collection and use, it is vital for most businesses to gather information in one form or another. How your business collects and manages data determines, to a great extent, your success in the marketplace; so here are some ideas to consider.

Plastic Possibilities

Let’s ask the audience. MasterCard recently confirmed a program called MasterCard Audiences, attempting to segment customers based on their transactions, and sell that information to advertisers for the Holiday season. The company didn’t specify how offline purchases could be helpful in targeting online ads toward certain consumers, saying the process is proprietary. The company says only transactional data will be used, without revealing personal information. Wired

Give me some credit. Small businesses can use credit cards, too, if not for data collection along the lines of what big ad networks and data exchanges are attempting with MasterCard’s program, then for make various payment options available to customers. In this guest post, Ben Dwyer, founder and CEO of, a company offering small businesses the ability to compare credit card processing rates, gives some advice on keeping rates low. Small Biz Diamonds

Information Please

Market maneuvering. Customer data isn’t the only information entrepreneurs are searching for online these days. Information on effective marketing abounds on the Internet, but collecting the most relevant and organizing it for your company’s use can be overwhelming, says marketing blogger Dave Hubbard. Instead, focus on collecting a set of best practices that will guide your business and help you change direction when necessary to avoid mistakes. Marketing Outfield

On the right track. When using online advertising, you must collect another kind of data to be sure you don’t pour too much money into campaigns that simply aren’t delivering results. The key to success, explains blogger Sherryl Perry, is to carefully track conversions for your online advertising campaigns. Google AdWords, for example, provides tools that allow you to see which advertising campaigns are worth the expense. Keep Up with the Web

Head in the Clouds

Data, data everywhere. With huge quantities of data collected by even smaller businesses these days, there’s a growing need to manage this valuable resource. Fortunately, Web hosts and cloud solutions allow even startup entrepreneurs and relatively small companies to retain and leverage huge reservoirs of data, just like the big guys. Be aware of the tools available to your organization. Cloud Business Review

Losing it all. Unfortunately, cloud computing, while allowing companies of all sizes to store massive amounts of data on multiple servers, does not guarantee that data is absolutely secure. Mark Pillans points out some of the dangers all businesses, large and small, face when storing data in the cloud. Luckily, he also has some common sense solutions that will help you use this resource with greater safety. Mimir Communications

The big guns. If you’re wondering how all this data can be used, well, just as in the case of MasterCard, marketing is one of the biggest ways. No, big data is not just for big business anymore, Sherry Lamoreaux explains. In fact, even small businesses today can use big data to their advantage when marketing to customers and building their revenues. Marketing Action Blog

Joshua Sophy Joshua Sophy is the Editor for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 16 years. A professional journalist with 20 years of experience in traditional media and online media, he attended Waynesburg University and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. He has held roles of reporter, editor and publisher, having founded his own local newspaper, the Pottsville Free Press.