Google Tracks What You Click On and Then Buy At A Brick and Mortar Store

Google Reveals It Can Now Track What You Buy At Local Stores, Sparking Privacy Woes

Google not only has the technology to track your spending in brick and mortar stores, but they are all set to start using it. The search engine giant has been tracking online spending for a while now, but recently they’ve acquired the technology to be able to see what you are purchasing at the stores through a partnership with credit card and debit card data tracking companies.

Fox & Friends did a segment on Thursday morning about Google’s methods for tracking your shopping habits both online and in physical stores. The reason that Google wants this information is to entice more advertisers. Have you noticed that when you do a Google search, the advertising that pops up happens to be that dress, that lawnmower, or that bed ensemble you have recently clicked on while searching online? That is the result of Google tracking your shopping habits, and in this case, it is your window-shopping habits.

Google uses your searches online to entice you to buy something by reminding you with an ad for a product that you recently searched. They place this ad in a future search you are doing on Google. This new tracking system goes beyond that. It tracks your brick and mortar store purchases after you’ve clicked on a product or item online. This is one way for Google to entice advertisers their way. Selling that advertising space on the Google pages is easier when Google can show their prospective clients what you are buying in the stores, as well as online.

According to the AP News, Google announced on Tuesday that they’d developed a new tool. This tool “will track how much money people spend in merchants’ brick-and-mortar stores after clicking on their digital ads.” The AP writes, “The analysis will be done by matching the combined ad clicks of people who are logged into Google services with their collective purchases on credit and debit cards.”

The search engine giant claims to have “access to roughly 70 percent of U.S. credit and debit card sales through partnerships with other companies that track that data.”

In a nutshell: Google will now be able to show their advertisers that it is money well spent or not well spent when advertising on their pages.

How does this work? This new tool will allow Google to show their advertisers that you, as a consumer, clicked on one of their online ads and then went to a brick and mortar store to purchase that item. They already had the technology to tell the consumer that you purchased that item online, but now the advertisers will know if you actually got in your car and went to a downtown store or to a mall to purchase that item.

Google does not have access to your personal name or accounts, and they can only match clicks to your purchases via your credit or debit cards.

Before this tool was created, advertisers would only have the online purchasing data of the consumer when it comes to their product. So if someone did click on an ad, but they didn’t purchase the item, this might look like a waste of advertising to the advertiser. They had no way of knowing if a consumer that clicked on their ad went to a store to buy the product, but now they do. This tool will give Google the ability to show that advertiser that you, as a generic consumer, did click on the ad, and while you didn’t order it online, you did go to a store and purchase the item or product.

This is actually more selling power in Google’s corner when it comes to enticing advertisers to take out ads on Googles online pages. Google is hoping that this program will entice merchants to “boost their digital marketing budgets.”

Google says, “It won’t be able to examine the specific items purchased or how much a specific individual spent,” according to the AP News. Your personal data is not available to Google. With this new tool, your online searching habits are basically matched with your purchasing habits. Is this amazing or is it somewhat scary when you think about it?

Larry Ponemon, who is the chairman of the Ponemon Institute privacy research firm, reports that “even aggregated data can sometimes be converted back to data that can identify individuals.” Ponemon also said that while Google has good intentions with this new technology, “companies and governments in the future might not.”

Micro Copic, who is a marketing professor at San Diego University, warns that the type of data Google is collecting could become a target for hackers. Copic said, “The privacy implications of this are pretty massive, so Google needs to tread very carefully.”

[Featured Image by Matt Rourke/AP Images]

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