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Google Is Developing the 'Holy Grail' of Advertising Programs

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Michaels will be one of the first brands to try Google's new advertising program. Image <a href="">via.</a>
Michaels will be one of the first brands to try Google's new advertising program. Image via.

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We've all come to know and love/hate Google's AdWords program (the links next to search results), but that might be only the beginning of an advertising long game that would connect online clicks to brick-and-mortar purchases. According to a report by WSJ, Google is testing out a new program called In-Store Attribution Transaction Reporting in AdWords, which is a lot of words that basically mean the company will be able to track your purchasing habits in the real world based on the ads you've been exposed to online.

"If Google can demonstrate that people did not just click on an ad but that they actually bought something, that is the Holy Grail," Benny Arbel, CEO of an advertising-technology company that works with Google, told WSJ. According to a Google advertising exec, the lack of data for measuring in-store sales based on online ads is one of the reasons big brands are more apt to spend money on traditional media advertising rather than digital ads.

Here's how the new program works: When users click on one of the brand's ads online, an anonymous "Click ID" is sent to the advertiser. More likely than not, the advertiser will have a cookie on the user's computer which they can then match up with the "Click ID." Now, the user has become trackable. Weeks later, when the user walks into the brand's store and makes a purchase, the brand will be able to link that purchase to the online ad though some sort of cookie and voliá—in-store purchases based on digital ads have been measured.

Google wants you to rest easy knowing that this is not an invasion of your privacy. "The Google spokesman said the company designed the test so that Google never knows the identity of the user," WSJ reported. Google is currently working with six different advertisers on the pilot program, although only the arts and craft chain Michaels Stores, Inc., could be identified.
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