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Google Aims To Connect Online Ads to Real-World Sales

Google already monitors your online shopping — but now it’s also keeping an eye on what you’re buying in physical stores to try to sell more digital advertising.

Google’s computers will be trying to connect the dots between what people look at after clicking on an online ad and what they purchase with their credit and debit cards at one of the advertiser’s brick-and-mortar stores.

For instance, if someone searching for a pair of running shoes online clicked on an ad from a sporting goods store but didn’t buy anything, an advertiser might initially conclude that the ad was a waste of money. With the new tool, Google says it will now be able to tell if the same person bought the shoes a few days later at a physical store.


Mining Credit Card Data

Google says it has access to roughly 70 percent of U.S. credit and debit card transactions through partnerships with other companies that track that data. By scanning this data, Google says it can automatically inform merchants when their digital ads translate into sales at a brick-and-mortar store.

If the program works, it could help persuade merchants to boost their digital marketing budgets.

But it could also deepen worries among privacy watchdogs, who are already concerned about the digital dossiers that Google has compiled on users of its search engine and other services, including Gmail, YouTube and Android.


Google’s Opportunity

The Mountain View, California, company already runs the world’s biggest online ad network, one that raked in $79 billion in revenue last year. That puts it in the best position to capture any additional marketing dollars spent on computers and mobile devices.

Google unveiled the store-sales measurement tool Tuesday in San Francisco at an annual conference it hosts for its advertisers.

This meeting is an opportunity not only for Google to flaunt its new tools, but…

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