Demonstrating how online advertising plays a role in driving in-store sales has always been one of the more complicated measurement challenges. So Google’s latest development, connecting people’s in-store purchases to their online browsing, is high on our radar. 

For retailers, this change could potentially improve the effectiveness of their marketing investment as it’s built on existing functionality within Google’s platform, capitalising on users who remain signed in across multiple devices.

Tom Cull

With several large advertisers recently calling into question the effectiveness of their digital advertising, anything we can collectively do to evidence performance and improve the quality and relevancy of the messages consumers receive should be perceived as good news.

There is a big caveat, though. As advertising platforms develop ever more sophisticated ways to collect, match and use consumer data to fuel more targeted communications, they are by definition interfacing with higher volumes of personal data. Google will point out that data used for this type of functionality is hashed and encrypted, but if Google is truly confident of its encryption and protection methods, it should be open to having them scrutinised publically by experts who can vouch for their effectiveness and robustness.

From the perspective of consumers, the promise of a better user experience with more relevant advertising is a good thing. However, as consumers live more of their lives digitally, leaving greater data signals as they move across platforms, they deserve guarantees their data will be used appropriately, with correct permissions, and that they will have the rights to review, manage and control what is being collected and how it’s being used.

Incoming regulations such as GDPR go some way to build on current rules. But the industry shouldn’t rely on regulations and rules to determine best practice - we must work collectively and proactively to robustly defend consumer privacy as we take advantage of more sophisticated technologies and strive to make marketing communications more relevant and engaging.

Tom Cull is chief operating officer at iProspect