Google is reportedly testing a tool that uses smartphone location data to monitor when consumers visit stores, providing a vital link between online and offline purchase behaviour.
Technology blog Digiday quotes ‘agency executives briefed on the program by Google employees’ in its report.
The publication goes on to report that Google will use the data to correlate store visits with smartphone searches, to demonstrate that its mobile advertisements are effective.
For example, if a person searches for ‘chopping board’ on their smartphone and is delivered an ad for a local kitchenware shop, Google can then match up the location data on that phone with its database of store listings to see if the person who saw the ad subsequently visited the shop.
Digiday reports that Google’s ability to make this connection is predicated on users opting in to location services on their smartphones. However, some users may not realise they have opted in to constant location tracking when they opt in to location services.
The technology could work for both article iPhone or Android users, but Digiday reports that it’s easier for Google to track buying habits on Android since location tracking is part of the OS.
Apple iOS users with Google apps such as Maps, Chrome or Gmail, that have opted in to location services could also be tracked, the report said.
The programme was hinted at in an AdWords blog post from 1 October, which detailed Google’s new “estimated total conversions” initiative. A “conversion” in this sense is a purchase, and Google is developing ways to track users across desktops, tablets, and smartphones.
“Over time, we’ll be adding other conversion types like phone calls and store visits as well as conversions from ads on our search and display network,” wrote Sridhar Ramaswamy, SVP of Ads and Commerce at Google.
A recent report commissioned by Google and conducted by analyst firm Nielsen revealed that consumers spend over 15 hours per week researching on mobile sites and apps. 55 per cent of consumers want to purchase within an hour and 69 per cent of consumers expect a business to be within 5 miles of where they’re located.