Google has recently announced their plans to track online and offline purchases to measure the success of their online campaigns. According to the giant company, the new service captures around 70% of all credit and debit card transactions in the Unites States, seeking to find out the connection between online ad clicks and money spent in stores. The new Google’s capability allows identifying transactions made using physical debit and credit cards and connecting such information with data that Google already knows about the user. The company owns Youtube, Google Maps, Google Play and Gmail, which all provide information about users, including their search and browsing history as well as geographic locations. Such information is associated with real identities of people when they log into Google’s services. Let’s not forget Google’s capability to track user’s location via smartphone apps, find out whether the user has seen a particular ad, clicked on it, or looked up the advertised product online. The new plan could allow connecting such information with in-store purchases. The company, however, does not seek to find out how much individuals spend, but it seeks to know the total of all purchases per particular time period, for instance, a year.
Such news might sound fascinating to advertisers, but certainly not for consumers. Not surprisingly, many have expressed concerns about their privacy, including the executive director of Electronic Privacy Information Center, whose name is Marc Rotenberg. “What’s really fascinating to me is that as the companies become increasingly intrusive regarding their data collection, they also become more secretive,” Marc commented. He also suggested that government regulators and Congress should require answers from Google as well as other technology companies on how they collect and use user data.
Of course, Google has something to say for a comeback. The company claims to be using trustworthy measures to protect user data – Google’s spokesman told BBC that the concept for the product was developed years ago, but it took years to develop a solution that could meet their stringent user privacy requirements. He also commented that the giant company now uses new and customized data encryption algorithm to keep user data securely. What is more, the company allows users to limit the tracking by opting out targeted Google’s ads.