According to Bloomberg, Google and Mastercard made a deal through which Google advertisers can track when their online ads score a brick and mortar sale; in return, Google paid Mastercard for a “stockpile” of transactions.
The new relationship, called “Store Sales Measurement,” “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,” Bloomberg says. This is how it works:
- A customer uses Google to search for an item, such as red lipstick. She searches the web for the lipstick, but doesn’t buy anything.
- At a separate time, that person goes into a brick and mortar store and purchases red lipstick with her Mastercard.
- The advertiser who ran the ad is sent a report from Google, which lists the sale along with other transactions in a column called “Offline Revenue.” This is only if that customer is logged into a Google account online and made the purchase within 30 days of clicking the ad.
- Later, those advertisers are given a larger report with the percentage of shoppers who clicked or viewed an ad, then made a relevant purchase.
“It’s the most powerful tool Google, the world’s largest ad seller, has offered for shopping in the real world,” Bloomberg says. Both companies no longer have to sift through mountains of data to garner how to best attract customers, and the new setup enables them to cut back on costly integrations.
Takeaway for decision makers – Good for Google and Mastercard, bad for buyers:
While both companies seem to view this new relationship as a homerun, the topic of privacy violations comes to the foreground. For example, most of the two billion Mastercard holders who are affected by this new deal don’t know about the “behind-the-scenes” tracking. “That’s because the companies never told the public about the arrangement,” Bloomberg says.
This might prove problematic for customers. Christine Bannan, a counsel with Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), said that customers don’t usually expect their in-store purchases to be connected with their internet purchases. “There’s just far too much burden that companies place on consumers and not enough responsibility being taken by companies to inform users what they’re doing and what rights they have,” she told Bloomberg. In fact, EPIC filed a complaint about this sales tactic with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission just last year.
While quiet data sharing between companies is common, it can often lead to trouble, and feelings of distrust. This can be detrimental to a relationship between customers and companies; consider the recent Facebook-Cambridge Analytica blowout. As a result, decision makers might want to evaluate their data-sharing strategies and view past mistakes and successes before imitating the relationship between Google and Mastercard.