Google has never been shy about implementing new systems that allow it to track people's online habits, whether its online searches or frequented websites. Its newest feature, though, will be able to see how offline spending relates to online ad campaigns.
First reported by CNN, the new feature Google is implementing will be able to track offline credit or debit card purchases to see if online ads that were clicked on in Google led to the in-store purchase. The new system is meant to help advertisers see if ad campaigns are working. This is big for Google, who has been working to win back advertisers after several pulled support for Youtube ads due to "extreme and offensive" content that ads were allowed to run in front of.
The way the new system works is through Google's partnerships with credit and debit card companies. The two will scan purchases on cards to see how they line up with online activity. The card companies Google partners with account to over 70 percent of all card purchases done in the states. Basically, the card company will supply Google with recent purchases, which Google then compares to someone's online activity on the website. This information would then get passed to advertisers to see what is working and what isn't, allowing it to adjust and "personalize" more to the person.
This wasn't the only new system Google announced, as Youtube will also get an update to work, somewhat, in tandem with the new system. To get more people to brick-and-mortar stores, Youtube ads will begin to feature the directions and hours to local stores that fit one's online profile and location history.
Any Privacy Left?
This new system does have to raise questions about how little privacy is left in the company. Google has worked to implement systems that can track and form a profile for anyone using the site — tracking searches and ad activity to "personalize" the experience to said person. However, it does start to get a bit alarming when Google says it will use its card partnerships to help ad companies and campaigns.
Now, it isn't completely bad for people concerned with their purchase histories being open season. The system will be able to see where someone made a card purchase, but won't be able to see said person's name or what was purchased. And aside from using cash, people can also sign out of their Google accounts before doing any searches or turn off/clear search history so the site can't save that information. Still, this is still a bit alarming and continues to raise questions about personal privacy, especially with major corporate entities.