Economy

Google Bought Mastercard Data To Track Your Offline Purchases For Ad-Targeting

Google Bought Mastercard Data To Track Your Offline Purchases For Ad-Targeting”

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

Google will record whether you have clicked an online ad and then purchased the same item within 30 days of clicking on the ad. Google apparently attempted to change this by striking a deal with Mastercard, leveraging the buying power of the company's close to two billion cardholders. A part of the solution matches clicks with purchases in offline stores, made with debit or credit cards. The result is powerful: Google knows that people clicked on ads and can now tell advertisers this activity led to actual store sales.

The report stated that chief of Google's advertising division, Sridhar Ramaswamy, first introduced the product in a blog post but made no mention of its deal with Mastercard in it.

For Google, this is just another step in bridging the gap between online ads and offline sales. Google is paying Mastercard, and conceivably other card systems, to get to this data.

While the contract itself isn't that surprising, the fact that both Google and Mastercard kept the agreement a secret from the public is a little concerning.

Both Google and Mastercard had kept quiet on their partnership however, keeping customers in the dark about their relationship and the extent of their tracking until Bloomberg lifted the lid, although both say that aggregated data identifying individuals has been anonymised.

According to anonymous tipsters speaking with Bloomberg, Google has had discussions with other credit card companies about partnerships, and ad agencies have approached Google about tracking even more offline information about customers, such as the time of the transactions and how much was spent.

Mastercard released its own statement that also reassured the anonymity of the data. No individual transactions or personal data is provided. But he said MasterCard shares transaction data with merchants and their service providers to help them measure "the effectiveness of their advertising campaigns". It's not 100 percent clear if the company is only working with Mastercard, but when it announced the tool in 2017, it said it had access to "approximately 70 percent" of credit and debit cards in the USA through partners. That delivers on the expectation of privacy from both consumers and merchants around the world. "In processing a transaction, we see the retailer's name and the total amount of the consumer's purchase, but not specific items", the statement read.



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