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

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

Google and Mastercard struck a secret deal that used card transaction data to let some US merchants see when online ads led to sales at physical stores, according to Bloomberg.

Following years of negotiations, Google paid millions of dollars for the Mastercard data, according to Bloomberg, citing numerous sources involved in the deal.

Since last year, select retailers have had access to a tool called Store Sales Measurement, which lets them track the link between online ads and in-store sales.

The arrangement, which customers were not made aware of, gives Google a valuable insight into how merchant advertising is linked to customer spending that is not online.

Google and Mastercard declined to comment on their specific partnership.

However, a Google statement to Bloomberg on the advertising tool says: "Before we launched this beta product last 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."

Mastercard says that no individual transaction or personal data is handed over, adding that the way that it's network operates means that it does not know the the individual items that a consumer purchases in any shopping cart – physical or digital.

Instead, a "small group" of test advertisers see aggregate sales figures and estimates of how many are down to Google ads. The data only applies to people who are logged into a Google account and have not opted out of ad tracking.

Sources told Bloomberg that Google talked to other payment companies about similar deals, but it is not known whether any agreements were reached.

Comments: (4)

Ray Caradine
Ray Caradine - ACI - Amsterdam 31 August, 2018, 14:47Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Is this supposed to be surprising ? The link between online and physical purchases and the ability to link and support increased sales is something analytics companies have been telling Merchants to do for the last few years either with their own data or from their acquirers as value added servicing.  I guess the "secretive" nature is supposed to be the surprising aspect, but is anyone really that surprised ?

Hoss Atri
Hoss Atri - Fairbanking Foundation - London, Uk 31 August, 2018, 15:121 like 1 like

As long as the data is truely anonymised in all of its aspects there should be no objections.

Estefaina Vazquez
Estefaina Vazquez - RED HAT - Madrid 31 August, 2018, 15:13Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

This news should not surprise anyone but we should be outraged by the evolution in the management of everything we do on the internet and act accordingly. Secretive is what really scares!

There will be no privacy anymore. It is that simple. where will the limit be?

Roberto Garavaglia
Roberto Garavaglia - Innovative Payments & blockchain Strategic Advisor - Milan 31 August, 2018, 19:54Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

The anonymisation of data is the real issue since nobody can truly guarantee the trustworthiness (and accountability) ... unless the sytem has built on blockchain (better on a public/hybrid ledger).
Anonymisation is a process that could be improved thanks a sound implemetation of smart contracts on a distributed computing platform (Ethereum like) with a decentralized governance.

Please, bear in mind that I'm speaking about the anonymisation process per se and the improvments it can be obtained by using the blockchain; of course I'm not speaking about the possibility to use a blockchain for cryptocurrency payments.