Google and Mastercard in credit card data deal

Google has a secretive deal with Mastercard that lets it track whether the online adverts it shows to people lead to purchases in high street shops. The agreement allows the search giant to link the purchase histories of Mastercard customers to their ema

Last year, when Google first announced the Store Sales Measurement service, the company claimed to have access to "approximately 70 percent" of United States credit and debit cards.

This only happens if you were logged into a Google account when you clicked the ad and only if you purchase the product offline within 30 days of clicking the ad, Bloomberg says.

The deal on its own is bad enough, but nobody outside of the two companies apparently knew about it. Customers were not informed their offline spending habits were being shared with Google. With the tool, Google can match existing user profiles with purchases in stores providing advertisers with powerful data on which ads people clicked on and how it impacted their purchasing decisions.

The company said people can opt out of ad tracking using Google's "Web and App Activity" online console.

Mr Seth Eisen, a Mastercard spokesman, declined to comment specifically on Google.

The revelation has raised questions about how much data Google is quietly harvesting without user knowledge.

And the reason why online ads have become so popular is that it's much easier to track the effectiveness of your ad campaign.

The report notes that many of Mastercard's two billion card holders are unaware of the arrangement between Google and the credit card company.

It is possible - even probable - that Mastercard is not the only company Google has such a deal with. It makes sense that Google wants this information-it gives them the ability to prove to customers that Google's ad service drives sales. The business partnership reportedly took about four years of negotiations, but Google never announced it publicly.

Mastercard denied suggestions that its data could be used to identify exact purchases.

The report also quoted a Google spokesperson saying the tool is now being used by a select number of advertisers in the United States.

A Google spokesperson didn't comment on the deal with Mastercard specifically but said that before launching the beta product past year, they developed a double-blind encryption technology to prevent both Google and its partners from viewing their respective users' personally identifiable information.

Mastercard has similarly stressed that no individual transaction or personal data changes hands, providing only the name of the retailer and total value of the purchase. The firms help advertisers and merchants predict consumer spending behavior using cardholder data.

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