Sunday, January 21, 2018
Business

Google tracking real-world sales as well as online ads

SAN FRANCISCO — Google already monitors your online shopping — but now it's also keeping an eye on what you're buying in real-world stores as part of its latest effort to sell more digital advertising.

The offline tracking scans most credit and debit card transactions to help Google automatically inform merchants when their digital ads translate into sales at a brick-and-mortar store.

Google believes the data will show a cause-and-effect relationship between online ads and offline sales. If it works, that could help persuade merchants to boost their digital marketing budgets.

GOOGLE WINDFALL

The Mountain View, California, company already runs the world's biggest online ad network, one that raked in $79 billion in revenue last year. That puts it in the best position to capture any additional marketing dollars spent on computers and mobile devices.

Google plans to unveil the store-sales measurement tool Tuesday in San Francisco at an annual conference it hosts for its advertisers.

The gathering gives Google a prime opportunity to woo advertisers — one that it surely welcomes, given that it's still trying to overcome a marketing boycott of its YouTube video site . The boycott began two months ago over concerns that Google hadn't prevented major brand advertising from appearing alongside extremist video clips promoting hate and violence.

Google is also introducing several other features designed to help merchants drive more traffic to their physical stores and to gain a better understanding on how digital ads appearing across a variety of devices are affecting their sales.

SMARTER AD TRACKING

Most of the new analytics twists draw upon Google's inroads in "machine learning" — a way of "training" computers to behave more like humans — to interpret the data. Google's search engine and Chrome web browser are a rich source of data about people's interests and online activities that it can feed into machine-learning systems.

In the case of the store sales measure tool, Google's computers are connecting the dots between what people look at after clicking on an online ad and then what they purchase with their credit and debit cards.

For instance, if someone searching for a pair of running shoes online clicked on an ad from a sporting goods store but didn't buy anything, an advertiser might initially conclude that the ad was a waste of money. But Google says its new tool will now be able to tell if the same person bought the shoes a few days later at one of the advertiser's brick-and-mortar stores.

DIGITAL DOSSIERS

Google says it has access to roughly 70 percent of U.S. credit and debit card transactions through partnerships with other companies that track that data. That means Google still won't be able to document every purchase made using plastic — and it still has no way of knowing when people buy something with cash.

The digital dossiers that Google has compiled on the more than one billion people who use its search engine and other services, including Gmail, YouTube and Android, worry privacy watchdogs. Google gives its users the option to limit the company's tracking and control what types of ads they are shown.

Google says its computers can collect identifying data triggered by online clicks and match it with other identifying information compiled by merchants and the issuers of credit and debit cards to figure out when a digital ad contributes to an offline purchase.

Shoppers remain anonymous, meaning they aren't identified by their names, according to Google. And the company says it doesn't share any of its anonymized information with its advertisers; instead, it targets ads at individuals who fit demographic profiles sought by advertisers.

Comments
Free clinics respond as more people head to the ER with dental problems

Free clinics respond as more people head to the ER with dental problems

Charles Lee had been dealing with an excruciating toothache for days. The pain made it hard to eat or sleep or focus on work. But Lee, 54, didn’t have dental insurance. His job as a delivery truck driver offered only a supplemental policy that was to...
Published: 01/22/18
Tampa Bay jobs chief Ed Peachey making top dollar

Tampa Bay jobs chief Ed Peachey making top dollar

For years, Edward Peachey has bragged about the number of jobless people he has helped find work.As president and CEO of CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay, he’s in charge of the two main government agencies that provide training to the...
Published: 01/20/18
Sunday Conversation: Lightning VP Keith Harris strikes a chord for the Boys & Girls Clubs

Sunday Conversation: Lightning VP Keith Harris strikes a chord for the Boys & Girls Clubs

Keith Harris fondly looks back on some memorable days from his Tampa upbringing when he worked as a lifeguard at a pool next to a Boys & Girls Club. ¶Whenever it rained, he watched as the kids retreated to the safe haven of the club. They entered int...
Published: 01/19/18
Updated: 01/21/18
Inspector General launches investigation into Tampa Bay’s local career centers

Inspector General launches investigation into Tampa Bay’s local career centers

The state has opened an investigation into CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay, days after the Tampa Bay Times asked about whether the two regional job centers were inflating the number of people they had helped get hired. The agencies, ...
Published: 01/19/18
Tech firm TranferWise moves to Ybor City, illustrating a new chapter in Tampa’s business history

Tech firm TranferWise moves to Ybor City, illustrating a new chapter in Tampa’s business history

TAMPA — You could sketch an economic history of the city of Tampa — and maybe get a glimpse of its future — just by looking at the old J. Seidenberg & Co./Havana-American Cigar Factory.It opened in 1894, making it Ybor City’s second-oldest brick ciga...
Published: 01/19/18

Want to buy into an exchanged-traded bitcoin fund? You might have a long wait

NEW YORK — It may be a while, if ever, before investors can buy an exchange-traded fund made up of bitcoin and other digital currencies. Federal regulators have a long list of questions they want answered before they’ll approve a digital currency fun...
Published: 01/19/18
Child psychologist weighs in on mom who charges 5-year-old ‘rent’

Child psychologist weighs in on mom who charges 5-year-old ‘rent’

A Georgia mother has gone viral for charging her 5-year-old "rent." Yup — the kid pays up for food, water, cable and electric, too.Essense Evans described in a Facebook post how she handles her daughter’s allowance. The post, written on Saturday, was...
Published: 01/19/18

Addicted to your smartphone? Now there’s an app for that

Did you text? Sorry, I can’t see messages right now. Arianna Huffington locked my phone.The media tycoon turned wellness entrepreneur wants to keep you out of your phone, too, with a new app called Thrive. Its goal is to make it cool for a generation...
Published: 01/19/18
Proposed monument near St. Pete pier would honor Tony Jannus history-making flight

Proposed monument near St. Pete pier would honor Tony Jannus history-making flight

ST. PETERSBURG — Tony Jannus’s history-making flight in an early seaplane — simultaneously as ungainly and graceful as a pelican on the wing — is what Mayor Rick Kriseman calls an "under-told and under-appreciated" story, but a team of local history ...
Published: 01/19/18
Learn how bus rapid transit (and rail) could work in Tampa Bay

Learn how bus rapid transit (and rail) could work in Tampa Bay

ST. PETERSBURG — The newest hope for transportation in the Tampa Bay area is a bus rapid transit system projected to cover the 41-miles separating St. Petersburg from Wesley Chapel and attract 4,500 new riders at a fraction of the cost of light rail....
Published: 01/19/18