Google, Mastercard In Credit Card Data Deal

Andrew Cummings
September 3, 2018

Last year, Google announced the Store Sales Measurement service, through which Google said it collected approximately 70 per cent of US credit and debit card transactions through third-party partnerships, without saying who those partnerships were with. If you spend money on Google or Facebook ads, you can directly track the number of customers who end up on your online store because of your campaign.

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 advertiser, however, did not know if the shopper made a purchase. The feature can find a connection between clicks on digital ads and purchases in bricks-and-mortar stores.

It added that people can opt out of the program using Google's "Web and App Activity" controls. Every marketer wants to know if an ad for something online led to someone going into a physical store and buying it. Google is paying Mastercard, and conceivably other card systems, to get to this data. The only reason we know about is is because four people "with knowledge of the deal" chose to speak publicly about it with Bloomberg.

Mastercard has also denied that it provided personal information to any third parties, saying it only offers merchants and service providers "trends based on aggregated and anonymized data".

Mastercard and Google have reportedly reached a secret deal that will enable Google to track Mastercard user buying habits both online and offline, and use the data for ad targeting and attribution. The search engine giant launched a service called "Store Sales Measurement" previous year, stating it has access to "around 70 percent" of all credit and debit card transactions in the USA, so this new revelation comes as little surprise.

A Mastercard spokesperson said purchased items are never linked to personally identifiable information, including billing addresses, or account numbers. "No individual transaction or personal data is provided", he said.

Reportedly, for the previous year, Google has been tracking the offline buying habits of Mastercard holders with the intent to correlate them to interactions with ads online.

'That delivers on the expectation of privacy from both consumers and merchants around the world.

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.

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