Although an exact amount wasn't disclosed, it's alleged that Google paid Mastercard millions of dollars for the customer data. Meanwhile, users can opt out of online tracking by toggling off the "Web and App Activity" - which remains on by default. This allows Google to measure the impact of online advertising on real world purchasing behavior.
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.
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. A part of the solution matches clicks with purchases in offline stores, made with debit or credit cards. Samsung and Google do not know any info about who made the purchase, how much was spent, or when, just that the same user who clicked an ad went out to buy a product.
These include payment processors - businesses hired by merchants to handle transactions from debit and credit cards.
When asked to comment on the previously unknown deal, Google and Mastercard have neither denied nor confirmed its existence.
"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".
She claimed that Google does not have access to any personal info of the credit card holders and they do not share any of it with their ad partners.
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This tracking begins with users who click on Google ads while being logged into their Google account.
The setting is enabled by default, and controls whether Google can link your browsing history to your Global Positioning System location.
The company constantly tracks what you click on if you have a Google account - which includes anyone with a YouTube or Gmail account.
Both Google and Mastercard declined to give statements specifically related to this previously-unknown contract.
Google also has deals with several third-party companies that process card transaction data.
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. Both companies, however, insisted that they do not study the activity of individual consumers and provide their customers with aggregated depersonalized data. But Christine Bannan of the Electronic Privacy Information Centre told Bloomberg that this burden shouldn't rest on unwitting consumers. Next, the user browses a certain item and doesn't purchase it.