The new tool will track the money people spend in brick-and-mortar stores of merchants after clicking on their digital ads.

Googles new tool can track an item you bought in a store after clicking on an online ad
Atom Google Thursday, May 25, 2017 - 10:57

We already know that every time we check a product or buy it on an ecommerce website, Google starts pushing those products as ads. But Google now wants to go one step forward and keep an eye on physical stores to try and sell more digital advertising, according to a report by Associated Press.

Google said that a new tool will track the money people spend in brick-and-mortar stores of merchants after clicking on their digital ads.

The combined ad clicks of people logged into Google services will be matched with their collective purchases on credit and debit cards and then analysed. However, the specific items purchased or the exact amount spent cannot be examined, says Google.

It currently has access to roughly 70 % of US credit and debit card sales through partnerships with other companies that track that data. And by matching this data with ad clicks, it can automatically tell merchants when their digital ads translate into sales at a physical store.

If the program works, it could help persuade merchants to boost their digital marketing budgets, reports AP.

Sridhar Ramaswamy, Google’s senior vice president of ads and commerce told AP that the new tracking system was created in consultation with ‘incredibly smart people’ to ensure it’s not invasive and said that the program is secure and privacy safe.

However, experts say that the kinds of data Google is collecting could become an inviting target for hackers. Google needs to tread carefully as privacy implications are massive.

With every search you make and video you watch, Google knows your likes and interests. This data is used to target ads towards you. And with the new program, it can tell when you click on an ad and then make a purchase based on that ad.

Log-in information such as email addresses are used to identify who’s clicking on ads and this data is matched with other identifying information compiled by merchants and the issuers of credit and debit cards to figure out if clicking on a digital ad translated into an offline purchase.

It’s all done in a “double-blind” way, Ramaswamy told AP. This means that the personal information that Google has can’t be seen by merchants or its credit and debit card partners. In the same way, Google is blocked from seeing personal information held by its partners.

When it first described the tracking program to The Associated Press, Google provided an example of how it would be able to identify a specific purchase made in a physical store by a consumer who had clicked on a digital ad run by the merchant. On Tuesday, though, Google executives stressed that it won’t be able to peer that deeply into what people are buying.

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