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Behavioral Ads Appearing On Online Banking Statements

Feb 14, 20114 mins
Data and Information SecurityData CenterEnterprise Applications

Targeted advertising finds its way into bank statements.

Banks are increasingly raiding your private financial info to send you targeted ads, but did you give it permission to look at your finances and sell that info to advertisers?

So you login to online banking and there on your statement are targeted behavioral ads based upon your purchases. It’s the new reward program some banks are offering; if you click on the link, it automatically activates, and then the advertiser will automatically recognize your debit or credit card next time you visit that merchant and use the same card. Ads can show up in three different places on your online statement, on a rewards-summary page, alongside transactions, or in a column on the transaction page.

Would you like to see targeted ads on your online banking statements? Despite the academic study that discovered people find targeted ads more creepy than effective, Cardlytics is betting on it. So are McDonald’s, Macy’s and Staples who all signed up to serve consumers ads via Cardlytics and online banking statements.Cardlytics claims it “allows you [advertisers] to create relevant offers for each consumer, present them in the trusted environment of an online bank statement and measure ROI to the penny.” The company’s whitepaper states, “Targeted offers are not just based on past consumer purchasing data. Cardlytics goes a step further, with even greater precision, by allowing advertisers to target based on a consumer’s purchases at a competitor’s store.” Behavioral targeting can be accomplished, “By zip code, store name, store category, frequency or purchase amount through a trusted channel – the consumer’s bank.”reported AdAge. However, Cardlytics “is privy to transaction data: the name of the merchant, date of the purchase, how much was spent and the customer’s ZIP code. But it does not have access to personally identifiable data like customer names, account numbers or home addresses, which are managed by participating banks.”reported AmericanBanker.Cardlytics advertises its services as:reported Payment Frontier. Google, Skype, YouTube and eBay were a few of the previous Global Awards Winners.Cardlytics

Because the emphasis continues to be how much consumers trust their bank, where Cardlytics can place ads, I asked, What would you say to people who feel that targeted behavioral advertising within the secure environment of their bank account online is a violation of their privacy?

Cardlytics did not answer my question, but its Chief Revenue officer Hans Theisen previously went on record as saying Cardlytics is “less infringing upon a customer’s privacy” than most behavioral targeting because the company does not use cookies to track consumers around the web,

According to Aaron McPherson, a security analyst at IDC Financial Insights, “Banks have always had the ability to target consumers based on the transactions they’re making, they just haven’t done it.”

It’s not only Cardlytics, since Cartera and Clovr Media also offer technology to place targeted ads into consumer’s online banking statements. But even though consumers can choose to opt-out, Cardlytics claims most don’t. In fact, the company is added a “mobile feature to its existing merchant-funded statement rewards programs, which enable participants to receive cash back on specific merchant-promoted offers,”

1.       Cardlytics is the first platform to enable advertising offers inside online bank accounts.

2.       Retailers can run offers in consumers’ transaction statements targeted against actual debit/credit card purchases.  

3.       Customers see offers in their online bank accounts and click to ‘activate them’ or ‘turn them on.’

4.       Rewards are applied automatically when customers shop using the debit, credit or prepaid card associated with the account.

5.       Cardlytics tracks and reports all redemptions – whether online OR in-store.

The business and innovation magazine Red Herring was impressed enough to name Cardlytics as one of the 2010 Global Awards Winners,

It may be convenient, no clipping of coupons, but I’m not too enthused about targeted behavioral ads showing up in my online banking statement. For me, it’ll be an opt-out or change banks. I wonder if advertisements via online banking will become a part of “Do Not Track?”


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ms smith

Ms. Smith (not her real name) is a freelance writer and programmer with a special and somewhat personal interest in IT privacy and security issues. She focuses on the unique challenges of maintaining privacy and security, both for individuals and enterprises. She has worked as a journalist and has also penned many technical papers and guides covering various technologies. Smith is herself a self-described privacy and security freak.