According a report by Bloomberg, the tool has been made available to select advertisers on Google and is created with the backing of credit card data from Mastercard. The move is now raising privacy concerns about exactly how much information data technology companies like Google can tap into.
Google reportedly paid millions of dollars to acquire the data provided by Mastercard, and the companies have discussed sharing a portion of the ad revenues facilitated by the deal, although there is now no such revenue sharing agreement now in place.
LAWYER CHRISTINE BANNAN at the advocacy group Electronic Privacy Information Centre.
You can rest assured that when Google shows you an ad, it knows if you make an online purchase related to that ad.
One of the most recent examples of Google going to arguably questionable lengths to acquire data is its deal with MasterCard.More news: Pentagon moves to scrap US$300 million in aid to Pakistan
The way Google's ad-tracking tool works is like this: If you are online and click on an ad for, say, a backpack, but don't purchase it, but then later walk into a shop and buy that same backpack, Google will know.
"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.
The company also said consumers can opt out of ad tracking by using Google's Web and App Activity online console.
"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".
It's shady stuff and neither Google nor Mastercard publicly disclosed the arrangement.More news: Samsung unveils 8K TV hailed as the `future of television´
Google is an advertising company first and foremost.
"We only provide merchants and their designated service providers trends based on aggregated and anonymised data, such as the merchant's average ticket size and sales volumes", said a spokesman.
Last year, Google announced the Store Sales Measurement service, through which Google said it collected approximately 70 per cent of USA credit and debit card transactions through third-party partnerships, without saying who those partnerships were with.
Earlier this year, Google made it easier to control the settings for your Google account, and this is your best defense against offline spending tracking.
The data Google collected as part of the partnership allowed it to design a tool for advertisers that broke down whether people who clicked on an advert online later went on to purchase the advertised product inside a brick-and-mortar store. "We do not provide insights that track, serve up ads to, or even measure ad effectiveness relating to, individual consumers".More news: Adrian Peterson flashes old form in preseason debut