Google is beta-testing a program that tracks users’ purchasing habits by registering brick-and-mortar store visits via smartphones, according to a report from Digiday.
Google can access user data via Android apps or their Apple iOS apps, like Google search, Gmail, Chrome, or Google Maps.
If a customer is using these apps while he shops or has them still running in the background, Google’s new program pinpoints the origin of the user data and determines if the customer is in a place of business.
Google gets permission to do this kind of tracking when Android users opt in to the “location services” option in their smartphone’s options menu and when iOS users agree to allow “location services” for Google apps like Gmail and Google Maps.
The program was hinted at in an AdWords blog post from Oct. 1 regarding 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. Google also mentioned that tracking conversions via phone calls is in the works, but has yet to release details.
Business Insider has reported on how Google is using cross-device conversion measurements in its war with Facebook for advertising supremacy. When advertisers are allowed to know as much as possible about users’ purchasing habits, they can target their ads more efficiently and reap the benefits. Measuring conversions is also important because it assures advertisers that their purchases are resulting in increased product sales.
Mobile users who search for products on their phones buy quickly after researching them, according to a Google/Nielsen report released on Tuesday. Consumers spend 15+ hours every week researching products, and more than half make their purchase within an hour after looking it up.