Google to Start Tracking Your Offline Purchases

Google has announced its intention to track the purchases you make with your credit and debit cards for marketing purposes.

By tracking offline purchasing, Google can compare your online ad clicks with the money you spend in traditional bricks and mortar stores. So whether you pop in at Wal-Mart for groceries or Toys R Us to buy a last minute birthday party gift, Google will know.

But how does Google accomplish this level of tracking? Using deep learning technology to recover data from its many services, including Google Maps, combined with credit-card transaction records. Google, at its Marketing Next conference this week, said it is able to access roughly 70 percent of credit and debit card transactions in the United States.

Google will then use the collected data to show marketers their online ads are leading to in-store as well as online purchases. For example, Google can tell Target how many people saw its ad for sheets and then went to a store to buy a set.

O2O Stats Graphic cropped

“You need insights into how your online ads drive sales for your business. You need to know: are my online ads ringing my cash register?” Google said in a blog post. “In the coming months, we’ll be rolling out store sales measurement at the device and campaign levels. This will allow you to measure in-store revenue in addition to the store visits delivered by your Search and Shopping ads.”

Google has said it will not provide shoppers’ names or credit card numbers to marketers, just the purchasing data. The tech titan’s deep learning abilities will be a boon not just to marketers, but to Google itself which will no doubt rake in even more advertising dollars as a result.

Privacy advocates are less than happy with Google’s plans, however.

The Washington Post spoke with a number of privacy advocates, including Privacy Rights Clearinghouse’s Paul Stephens. Stephens said Google’s plan may not be enough to protect consumers’ privacy.

“What we have learned is that it’s extremely difficult to anonymize data,” Stephens told the Post.”If you care about your privacy, you definitely need to be concerned.”

Via Business Insider

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  • Isn’t there some law against this or will it be another among many lawsuits against them already? And what will be the responsibility of the credit card companies allowing this intrusive tracking? This is beyond the pale of what should be considered illegal and unconstitutional privacy intrusion. It is none of Google’s business what people purchase and they have no right to track citizens. I smell a class action lawsuit and some sewer rats. Yes, I am very concerned! Everyone should be outraged and do everything in our legal power to put a stop to it.