NEVER MIND: Google Has NOT Figured Out How To Track You Even When You’re Offline

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Google announced a new advertising product this morning, called “Conversions API,” with a statement on the DoubleClick blog that gave the strong impression the company was now able to let advertisers use their offline sales data — from phone calls and credit card transactions, for instance — to target search ad campaigns.But hold the phone. That’s not what’s happening.  We misinterpreted a statement Google made about the new product.

The statement appeared to say Google was able to allow advertisers to track your offline behaviour, in a store for instance, and then target search ads at you later.

Google even said it wanted to “bring offline into your online world.”

That would have been a revolutionary step — and a huge competitive threat to Facebook, whose Custom Audiences product does much the same thing. We asked Google for further comment, but the company declined to say anything on the record.

The original statement, however, was misleading. Staff at DoubleClick later made an addendum to it, to make it more clear.

Here’s what it said:

“To capture these lost conversions and bring offline into your online world, we’re announcing the open beta of our Conversions API for uploading offline conversion automatically. Upload new conversions to account for in-store transactions, call-tracking, or other offline activities, or edit existing conversions to account for discounts, returns, credit, or fraud through integrated API access.”

All the keywords are there: “offline,” “call-tracking,” “credit,” and so on.

But in fact, all that’s happening is that Google is allowing advertisers to use the data they already collect to track the results of their campaigns, and compare them against campaigns with slightly different data. For instance, if a company is trying to figure out which of its ads are most successful by using one phone number in one ad and a different phone number in another, then Conversions API will allow them to do that.

Google will not be adding “phone-tracking” data to search ads, in other words, despite what DoubleClick’s blog actually says. Here’s the original announcement:

Google Doubleclick

[credit provider=”DoubleClick”]

Note to readers: The original version of this story was incorrect because it was based on the DoubleClick statement. We apologise for the error.

Disclosure: The author owns Google stock.