Google Attribution dashboard

At the annual Google Marketing Next conference, the Mountain View search and advertising giant announced a new service that will let advertisers track and tie offline credit card payments with ongoing marketing campaigns.

Google says this new system is driven by machine learning and combines data from Google's regular advertising campaigns with "third-party partnerships, which capture approximately 70% of credit and debit card transactions in the United States."

Google says this new system, announced yesterday and named Google Attribution, will answer the age-old question that every advertiser has posed: "How many product sales did my ads generate?"

Google is in a unique position to do this

Google can do this because of the amount of data it has on almost all Internet users. For example, Google Attribution will aggregate details from services such as AdWords, Google Analytics, and DoubleClick Search, which unify details about the ads displayed on your phone, the sites (and time) you visited, and what you've searched in Google.

Furthermore, Google has been collecting and using geolocation and WiFi network information from your phone to power its ads business since 2014.

Putting all this info together allows Google to tell when you've seen an ad, if you searched for the advertised product, and if you've gone to the mall or walked into a store that sells that product.

With the integration of payment data from "third-party partnerships," Google will know if you've bought that product and will report this in the advertiser's AdWords dashboard.

Google shifts focus from ad clicks to product sales

Google pointed out that all info on payment card transactions is reported back to "Google ads in a secure and privacy-safe way," the company only receiving aggregated and anonymized store sales, enough to identify a payment, but not the person who made it.

What Google is offering through the new Attribution service is what other advertisers have strived and failed to provide for decades, since the birth of the modern advertising industry. This is the ability to track actual sales across different devices and into the real world.

In Google's own words, Attribution will shift the focus from the last click on an ad to actual sales, just as ad space buyers have always wanted.

Below is a video of yesterday's Google Marketing Next conference keynote. The presentation on Google Attribution starts at 32:20.