Loving free products like Google, Gmail, Google Maps, or Android means you have to give away a part of yourself to Google. Your data is what pays for these free products, and there’s no way around it. If you’re worried about your online privacy, you won’t like the type of personal data Google plans to track next.

Google wants to track billions of credit and debit card sales to compare online ad clicks with money spent offline, BBC reports.

If this sounds like the kind of fake Google product the company invents for April Fool’s, you should know it’s a real thing. Google already announced the new initiative on its AdWords blog.

Google explains that it’s already able to capture some 70% of credit and debit card transactions in the USA alone, which is quite impressive. This happens through third-party partnerships, but Google doesn’t say what companies provide the financial data.

But, in the future, advertisers will be able to use the data to measure the effectiveness of their online ads.

Google, of course, tracks plenty of other data that will come in handy when it comes to helping companies understand whether the ads you see on your devices will convince you to buy a product.

Such data includes store visits, and Google says that in less than three years, advertisers measured more than five billion store visits using Google’s AdWards.

Stores looking to get in on the credit card tracking action should know that there will be two ways of using it. One involves using email information collected at the point of sale for loyalty programs, and the other one relies on data from those unmentioned third parties.

“Both solutions match transactions back to Google ads in a secure and privacy-safe way, and only report on aggregated and anonymized store sales to protect your customer data,” Google says, adding that advertisers won’t have to share any customer data with Google.

Furthermore, Google won’t know what you buy, only the value of all purchases over a period of time.

“While we developed the concept for this product years ago, it required years of effort to develop a solution that could meet our stringent user privacy requirements,” a spokesman told BBC.

“To accomplish this, we developed a new, custom encryption technology that ensures users’ data remains private, secure, and anonymous.”

Before you ask, yes, you can opt out of the new feature. Just head over to your Google account, and look for a box that says “Also use Google Account activity and information to personalize ads on these websites and apps and store that data in your Google Account” inside the ads settings page.

View Comments