In a previous post, we looked at Google’s Fred update and how it impacts Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for small business. Now we’ll take a look at Google’s announcement of Google Attribution.
As advertisers we obsess over the click that leads to a purchase. We want more conversions! We focus in on the point of purchase and optimize for maximum return. Often we forget there’s much more to the funnel than the last click. For most successful brands, there are other ads and messages that lead up to that ultimate purchase. These can be email campaigns, TV ads, YouTube ads, store visits, etc.
Look at podcasting for example, most podcasts have unique codes so they can track how many listeners go to a particular brand to purchase a product. How often do you think podcasts don’t get credit for purchases because a listener Googled that product and forgot to add the unique code. Who gets credit? Google!
Now think about the car companies like Ford. Ford has invested a lot of resources into Google ads: Adwords, Display and YouTube. How often does someone click an ad and buys a car? Never. It doesn’t happen. Most people see multiple ads for cars while they are researching before they actually go to the lot and make a purchase. Wouldn’t it be great for Ford if they were able to track the entire sales process?
Well Google announced at Google I/O that is taking more action to show how online ads work with offline purchases. Google plans to track offline credit card transactions to give a bigger picture on online ads, calling it Google Attribution.
The goal is to help advertisers make sense of a messy buyer’s journey. For example, if a customer’s last action before buying something was a Google Search, it’s possible that an earlier email campaign should also get credit for that purchase. Ad Age referred to this as Google killing the ‘last click.’
How Google Will Track Offline Purchases For Advertisers
Google says they will help advertisers by tracking offline credit card purchases to show online ads work using machine learning. Google will double anonymizing to ensure personal information is not compromised. That leaves speculation for the average consumer because what does double anonymizing really mean? However, Google is arguably the leading experts when it comes to data mining.
According to ZDNet, Google promises that matching transactions with Google ad interactions will be done in a "secure and privacy-safe way, and only report on aggregated and anonymized store sales to protect your customer data".
All Google is doing here is telling advertisers person "x" saw these ads and bought a product. They aren’t saying who the person is or what they bought.
Google says it already knows advertisers have billions of store visits through AdWords in the past few years. Deep learning is helping Google predict these store visits. Think about it, Google gets more data than Amazon, Facebook, etc., because it owns the phone platform and desktop platform. Google has Android Pay and sales receipts are being emailed to consumers, which is becoming more common.
Given Google’s relationships with firms, it says it can track about 70% of all credit- and debit-card transactions in the US. That means they track the ads you see, your location through your phone and the purchases you make.
Basically, Google is mastering context. In the past, you always had to check a Captcha box to prove you weren’t a robot. You’ll probably notice, unless you’re in incognito mode, that doesn’t happen as often as it used to. That’s because Google knows who you are. They’ve been collecting data on users for long enough that it’s context is becoming superior compared to other companies. Companies like Facebook, Amazon and even media outlets should be worried because they can’t provide that kind of data insight or context at this point. Google has a huge advantage with these new features rolling out.
Consumers may have concern, but it's the holy grail for advertisers. Google is moving us to a cost-per-sale. We’ll see what effect it has on the traditional cost-per-click. Google wants accountability and this is a huge step in that direction.
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