The report noted that Mastercard has also improved its data and analytics capabilities through its consulting arm, Mastercard Advisors. It's not 100 percent clear if the company is only working with Mastercard, but when it announced the tool in 2017, it said it had access to "approximately 70 percent" of credit and debit cards in the United States through partners. Since at least 2014, the company has used Google Maps to notify advertisers about users who viewed their ads and then visited brick-and-mortar establishments.
According to Bloomberg, the deal is a culmination of talks over the course of four years and provides Google with a way to measure the results of ad spending on its platforms.
The purported multi-million dollar agreement allows the Californian search company to link the purchases of Mastercard customers to their email addresses. 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. Meanwhile, users can opt out of online tracking by toggling off the "Web and App Activity" - which remains on by default.
"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.
"People don't expect what they buy physically in a store to be linked to what they are buying online", Christine Bannan, an attorney with the advocacy group Electronic Privacy Information Center, told Bloomberg.
Google is an advertising company first and foremost.
"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", the firm said in a statement. 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.
The information provided is the sales volumes and average size of the purchase, and is only shared with the permission of the merchants. Both companies, however, insisted that they do not study the activity of individual consumers and provide their customers with aggregated depersonalized data. The firms help advertisers and merchants predict consumer spending behavior using cardholder data. "In processing a transaction, we see the retailer's name and the total amount of the consumer's purchase, but not specific items", the statement read.