Google has been secretly tracking your offline purchases with help from Mastercard

Google has been secretly tracking your offline purchases with help from Mastercard

Google has been secretly tracking your offline purchases with help from Mastercard

A Mastercard spokesperson also declined to comment on the Google partnership directly but pointed out that Mastercard often shares transaction history with merchants and service providers. The result is powerful: Google knows that people clicked on ads and can now tell advertisers this activity led to actual store sales.

Though Google didn't name its partners, the 70 percent figure would suggest Mastercard isn't the only credit card company it is now partnered with.

It is important to note that this feature works only if a customer is logged into a Google account and has not switched off the Google Ad Tracking.

Neither Google nor Mastercard have publically announced the partnership, and so far neither company has let customers know that offline purchases made in stores using Mastercard are being tracked and correlated with online ad interactions.

Google in pitching the solution to advertisers said there is no costly integrations or time-consuming setup on their end and that they don't need to share any customer information. This allows Google to measure the impact of online advertising on real world purchasing behavior.

Google has reportedly approached many other companies about the platform, but there's no information on what or how many deals have been signed.

It's shady stuff and neither Google nor Mastercard publicly disclosed the arrangement.

Before we launched this beta product past year, we built a new, double-blind encryption technology that prevents both Google and our partners from viewing our respective users' personally identifiable information.We do not have access to any personal information from our partners' credit and debit cards, nor do we share any personal information with our partners. Depending on your interpretation of Google's admission that it captures approximately 70 percent of credit and debit card transactions in the U.S., it could very well have deals in place with other providers as well.

Last year, when Google announced the service, called Store Sales Measurement, it said only that it had access to "approximately 70 per cent" of United States credit and debit cards through partners, without naming them.

If the same person goes to a physical shop and uses their Mastercard to purchase red lipstick, Google gets alerted to the transaction.

The Holy Grail of advertising data is offline sales.

"No individual transaction or personal data is provided", he said in a statement.

Mastercard says it can only see a retailer's name and the transaction amount, not the products purchased, when a consumer buys something online or offline.

Related news