Google’s thirst for building an advertising platform which stays up to date with nearly every aspect of your life has unfolded yet another controversial revelation. The search engine leader, which accounts for more than a quarter of the total digital ad spend, may have a struck a deal with MasterCard for acquiring its retail data. That would essentially mean select Google advertisers now have access to your credit card spends.
Offline transactions have remained an uncharted territory for digital ad platforms since there’s no direct way to track them apart from, of course, orders made through apps like Google Pay. However, by entering a partnership with the biggest credit card company for an undisclosed amount, Google is offering a whole new dimension of insights to the businesses advertising through it. By monitoring credit card purchases of the two billion Mastercard holders, these organizations will be supposedly able to check whether a particular marketing campaign has led to an offline buying decision and alter their content accordingly.
Sources tell Bloomberg the deal was a result of four-year of negotiations and “the alliance gave Google an unprecedented asset for measuring retail spending, part of the search giant’s strategy to fortify its primary business against onslaughts from Amazon.com Inc. and others.”
Last year, Google had announced plans for accessing “approximately 70 percent” of the U.S. credit as well as debit cards through several partners. In addition to MasterCard, therefore, Google might already have other companies roped in without public disclosure. The only way out of this, for now, it seems is disabling ad-tracking from your Google settings or switching to a different search platform altogether.
However, the deal also shines a broader light on the growing concerns surrounding how Google products, services, and how they function. The company has been twice found accumulating Android users’ geographic data even when they had the setting disabled either through legal policy trickery or simply an “oversight”.