At­tri­bu­tion plat­form threat­ens to in­trude pri­vacy

New Straits Times - - Business -


GOOGLE is test­ing a way to tie on­line ads to brick-and-mor­tar store pur­chases, a move whet­ting mar­ket­ing ap­petites while fu­elling pri­vacy wor­ries.

A prod­uct called “Google At­tri­bu­tion” was un­veiled at a mar­ket­ing con­fer­ence this month here by the In­ter­net gi­ant. Google has long been able to de­ter­mine when users click on ads and make pur­chases, but link­ing on­line and off­line habits takes its an­a­lyt­ics a step fur­ther.

Google senior vice-pres­i­dent Srid­har Ra­maswamy, who an­nounced that At­tri­bu­tion was in test mode with a lim­ited num­ber of part­ners and would be rolled out to more ad­ver­tis­ers in the com­ing weeks, touted the tool as be­ing able to an­swer the ques­tion of whether mar­ket­ing cam­paigns were work­ing.

“Google At­tri­bu­tion makes it pos­si­ble for ev­ery mar­keter to mea­sure the im­pact of their mar­ket­ing across de­vices and across chan­nels,” said Ra­maswamy.

Real-world cus­tomer email ad­dresses or loy­alty plan in­for­ma­tion can be wo­ven with Google data from ser­vices such as AdWords, Google An­a­lyt­ics and Dou­bleClick Search to pro­vide “a com­plete view” of mar­ket­ing per­for­mance, ac­cord­ing to the com­pany.

Us­ing ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, or ma­chine learn­ing, to bet­ter an­a­lyse and un­der­stand con­sumer be­hav­iour to tar­get ads and pro­mote sales was a ma­jor theme of the con­fer­ence.

For sev­eral years now, AdWords has en­abled ad­ver­tis­ers to mea­sure vis­its to real-world stores stem­ming from on­line cam­paigns, said Ra­maswamy.

“Still, mea­sur­ing store vis­its is just one part of the equa­tion,” Ra­maswamy said.

“You also need in­sights into how your on­line ads drive sales for your busi­ness.”

Ty­ing on­line ac­tiv­ity to off­line shop­ping de­ci­sions has been a “holy grail” for ad­ver­tis­ers for quite some time, and comes with wor­ri­some pri­vacy im­pli­ca­tions, ac­cord­ing to Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union senior pol­icy an­a­lyst Jay Stan­ley.

At­tri­bu­tion threat­ens to in­trude on a core ten­ant of pri­vacy, that peo­ple can have deal­ings with one party not spill over into af­fairs with other par­ties they in­ter­act with, Stan­ley con­tended.

“This is an evo­lu­tion, not a rev­o­lu­tion; an­other step to­wards in­creased mon­i­tor­ing of in­di­vid­u­als,” Stan­ley said.

“Each step raises the ques­tion: Where does this all stop?” AFP

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