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Online and Offline Shopping Tracking Gets Closer as Google Links Ads to Store Sales

It is every marketeer's dream, to be able to track the impact of what they do on bottom-line sales. We can do it on many things nowadays, but not on everything - and it is and always has been, hard to track the impact of your advertising and other efforts, on whether a customer goes into a store to buy. 


Google has just announced that in the US, they are starting to link the impact of your online google advertising to information they have on credit card expenditure through a 3rd party, to be able to link advertising to actual in-store purchases. They say they can't do it to a specific product level, so we'd assume on Google product listings, but that there will be a way to show the general impact of adverts. Of course the benefit to Google, if they can produce this information, is that it should encourage companies to spend more on advertising with them. Another technology Google has been deploying is its Beacon Platform. According to their website, "The Google Beacon platform enables you to manage your beacons remotely, integrate with Google services and help users' devices to discover content and functionality across Android, native apps and the web."

The big concern for consumers is likely to be privacy. It could be somewhat concerning to know that because you are signed into some sort of Google account, that your activity online can be linked to both your location (through GPS) and purchasing behaviour. That should concern most of us. If consumers are aware of what is happening, might it actually have a backlash on them clicking on google adverts - and encourage them to go more for other shopping options such as Amazon and eBay?

The concern for retailers or brands will likely be, how correct is this information? If you are making key strategic decisions around the statistics that you get, how could you be sure these are correct? Google would need to convince audiences on that front, before they rush in and modify campaigns and activity around the information. 

I, the writer of this blog today, went open water swimming on Sunday. I am logged into Google Fit on my phone, so I retrospectively added my half hour swim earlier in the day - important to add those hard-earned calories... What surprised me was that it self-populated my location for swimming, even though I hadn't added it. I have the GPS location switched on and my assumption was that Google knew where I was at 1pm on Sunday afternoon. It can do that, so even without knowledge of my expenditure, it can already track where I am. I log in using the same email on my laptop as the one for my Google Fit on the phone. I click on one, am tracked on the other... one to ponder for the future..

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