Google Attribution Aims To Link Offline Purchases to Online Ads

Machine learning can help marketers better track the success of their ads, whether customers ultimately end up buying online or off, thanks to a new tool unveiled by Google yesterday. However, consumer and privacy advocates are expressing concern about the potential implications of Google's ever-expanding ability to understand user behavior from first search to final purchase.

Google Attribution, whose launch in beta was announced yesterday during the company's Marketing Next conference in San Francisco, is a new offering that lets marketers better assess the effectiveness of their advertising, according to senior vice president of ads & commerce Sridhar Ramaswamy. In a blog post about the tool's launch, Ramaswamy said Google Attribution uses machine learning to provide data-driven insights about each step in the consumer journey.

Tracking Across Devices and Channels

"For the first time, Google Attribution makes it possible for every marketer to measure the impact of their marketing across devices and across channels -- all in one place, and at no additional cost," Ramaswamy said. Rather than just relying on last-click attribution, which misses the impact of most marketing touchpoints, Google's new tool makes use of data from a range of applications like AdWords, Google Analytics, and DoubleClick Search to let marketers better understand consumer actions across devices and channels, he said.

Over the coming months, Google also plans to roll out new capabilities enabling marketers to understand the in-store sales impact of their ads at the device and campaign levels, Ramaswamy said.

For example, large retailers who take email information at the point of sale from shoppers enrolled in their loyalty programs will be able to import data about such transactions into AdWords to better analyze campaign-related purchases by individual stores.

"And even if your business doesn't have a large loyalty program, you can still measure store sales by taking advantage...

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