Google bought Mastercard data to link ads with in-store purchases

Google and Mastercard reportedly teamed up to track offline sales

Google & Mastercard have secret deal to track offline shopping to online ad clicks – report

"Before we launched this beta product a year ago, we built a new, double-blind encryption technology that prevents both Google and our partners from viewing our respective users" personally identifiable information, ' a Google spokesperson told MailOnline.

The process starts with a user who's logged into their Google account and clicks on a Google ad.

The spokesperson added that users can opt out of ad tracking through the Web and App Activity section in their Google account.

The partnership is apparently one way Google can measure retail spending and boost its business as Amazon and other online companies continue to grow, according to the report. What this allowed Google to do was link up offline spending habits with online advertising views and clicks for the past 12 months. A new Bloomberg report describes a partnership with Mastercard in which the tech giant gets access to offline sales data.

Instead, a "small group" of test advertisers see aggregate sales figures and estimates of how many are down to Google ads.

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Last year, Google announced the Store Sales Measurement service, through which Google said it collected approximately 70 per cent of USA credit and debit card transactions through third-party partnerships, without saying who those partnerships were with. For Mastercard, that means the bulk of its two billion customers have no knowledge of the behind-the-scenes tracking.

"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", Google said responding to the report. The opt out tool Google mentions makes no mention of tracking offline purchases. This tool, however, didn't track sales made within the stores.

Both Google and Bloomberg say the data is anonymised, meaning purchase histories can not be linked back and used to personally identifiable information, including your billing address, name, age, or other details held by the two companies. The only reason we know about is is because four people "with knowledge of the deal" chose to speak publicly about it with Bloomberg. The two companies also discussed sharing profits from ad revenue related to the data, although Google denied this was the case. This type of data is incredibly valuable for advertising agencies, and the tool has already been a boon for Google, leading to increased ad sales. However the deal, uncovered by this week by Bloomberg, was not disclosed to the public by either Google or Mastercard. The way our network operates, we do not know the individual items that a consumer purchases in any shopping card - physical or digital.

No individual transaction or personal data is provided. But Christine Bannan of the Electronic Privacy Information Centre told Bloomberg that this burden shouldn't rest on unwitting consumers.

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