Sunday, May 28, 2017

Google Developing a Tool to Match Brick and Mortar Purchases to Digital Marketing Campaigns

At Google’s May 23, 2017, annual advertiser conference, the company revealed a new tool currently in development which will track how much money customers spend at a given brick and mortar store after clicking on that company’s digital ad.

This tool will be revolutionary, since, currently, if a customer clicks on an online advertisement and does not make an online purchase, there is no way to track if that digital ad led to a subsequent brick and mortar transaction. This tool changes that.

More specifically, Google will be able to match the collective number of ad clicks (for a given ad) by customers logged into a Google account with the collective purchases on credit and debit cards made at that company’s physical store. (Google won’t be able to see the specific items purchased or how much one individual spent. Well, not yet at least). Therefore, Google will be able to provide companies with data connecting their digital ads to in-store purchasing behavior.

Google currently has access to approximately 70% of US credit and debit card data sales (through partnerships they have with other companies). The tool won’t be entirely precise, since it cannot account for cash transactions, credit and debit card transactions made on the 30% of cards whose data Google cannot access, and users not logged into a Google account.

This tool is critically important since the data it provides could lead companies to increase their digital marketing spends, and to do so with Google (further differentiating itself from Facebook and other social media companies with rapidly growing digital advertising revenues).

And, if this tool is successful, I think it could be modified in the future to track mobile advertising with brick and mortar stores, too, which could lead to increased spends in mobile as well.

Digital marketers need to beware, however, since giving Google too much power to link customers’ online and in-person behavior can walk a scarily close line to privacy invasion. And having so much personal data aggregated in one place puts a solid target on Google’s back for hacking. How much do digital marketers want to be a part of that?

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