Will Google change the game by linking clicks to in-store purchases?
Google last week introduced new tools to better measure the effectiveness of digital ads including linking ads to in-store purchases.
At its annual Google Marketing Next advertiser conference, officials introduced Google Attribution, which uses machine learning to provide data-driven insights about each step in the consumer journey. The free tool integrates with AdWords, Google Analytics and DoubleClick Search to determine how much credit to assign to each step in the consumer journey.
“It analyzes your account’s unique conversion patterns, comparing the paths of customers who convert to those who don’t, so you get results that accurately represent your business,” wrote Sridhar Ramaswamy, SVP of ads & commerce, in a blog post.
Mr. Ramaswamy said many marketers have been “stuck using last-click attribution” because of challenges in tracking journeys across devices and integrating tools.
Gaining more attention in the press was Google’s plans to roll out tools that link in-store purchases to digital ads.
The primary way the links will be accomplished is by tapping POS payment information. Credit and debit card companies will send Google encrypted information about store purchases that can be matched to collective online profiles of users who clicked on corresponding ads. Google has partnered with third parties, such as payment processors, to track about 70 percent of debit and credit card transactions in the U.S.
A second way ties in loyalty program data that are often shared with third parties. Mr. Ramaswamy wrote, “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.”
Connecting clicks to in-store purchases is seen as the “holy grail” to proving digital’s effectiveness. Amit Jain, chief executive of Bridg, told the Washington Post, “Google — and also Facebook — believe that in order to get digital dollars from advertisers who are still primarily spending on TV, they need to prove that digital works.”
Goggle said “double-blind encryption” will keep the person’s identity anonymous but the lack of details on exactly how its tracking works is expected to stoke privacy concerns.
- Powering ads and analytics innovations with machine learning – Google
- Google starts tracking offline shopping — what you buy at stores in person – Los Angeles Times
- Google now knows when its users go to the store and buy stuff – The Washington Post
- Google will track your shopping trips to prove its ads work – Engadget
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Could connecting clicks to in-store purchases be a game changer for retail? What do you think of machine learning’s potential to better understand the shopper journey? What questions or concerns would you have about both tools?