Friday, May 26, 2017

Google Aims to use Targeted Advertisements to Boost Both In-Store and Online Shopping

Most people who use the internet, especially for online shopping, have noticed at some point that the advertisements that appear on web pages they visit tend to relate to items they have been looking to buy. It is one of the ways that Google makes revenue, by selling advertising space and targeting the advertisements at those consumers most likely to be swayed by them. By correlating the number of clicks on an advertisement to the actual items purchased online by consumers, Google is able to show online retailers that their advertisements are the right choice.

Similarly, Google seems to be looking to move into the non-digital marketplace. According to an article by the Associated Press of the L.A. Times, Google is looking into a new service that will track how much consumers spend in brick and mortar stores after clicking on advertisements related to those purchases. However, it will only be able to correlate the information to stores, not to specific items purchased at the stores, which may not be enough information for some advertisers.

By determining how ad clicks are connected with actual purchases, Google can help advertisers to determine whether their ads are a waste of money or actually useful. If the data is convincing enough, it could be beneficial to both Google and the advertisers it is contracted by. If advertisers see how well their ads work, they are more likely to increase their advertising budget, thus generating more revenue for the retailer and more income for Google. The main problem, however, seems to be the loss of privacy inherent in this kind of data tracking.

Already, Google has digital dossiers on everyone who uses their online services. They know what people search for, what people shop for, and even the types of videos people watch on social media. Using that information, they can create targeted ads that are directed at the proper demographics. This new system just seems to be an expansion of that concept. There are precautions in place, fortunately. The system is expected to run in a "double-blind" manner, which means Google receives personal information that credit card companies and merchants don't, while the credit card company receives information that Google doesn't. Additionally, it won't be able to gather information on cash transactions and about 30% of credit card transactions. Advertisements have the ability to help all involved parties in that they can point customers toward products they want and provided added demand on products for retailers. The main question: is the loss of privacy worth the added benefits of the ads?

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