Is a New Google Targeted Ads Option on the Horizon?

targeted adsThe web is buzzing with speculation on a new possible Google targeted ads option – one that uses customer email addresses to better customize ads for consumers who are searching in order to make a purchase.

The rumor was first leaked by the Wall Street Journal. Although Google is not commenting with specifics at this time, sources say this new form of targeted ads could go into effect later this year or sometime next year.

In order to place these targeted ads, businesses would share customer emails with Google – email addresses obtained when a customer made a previous purchase on your website, for example.

Google would then match the email address on its end, perhaps by using Gmail addresses and primary and secondary email addresses they obtain from services such as YouTube and Google Maps.

The Wall Street Journal offered speculation on how these targeted ads would work. For example, an office supply business may provide email addresses of customers who recently purchased printers. The website owner could then bid on search terms – for example, in order for their ads to be placed when that same customer is Googling for printer ink later on.

To elaborate with other possibilities, if a clothing retailer sold winter clothing to a customer they could show targeted ads when the same customer is searching for summer clothing. Or an electronics retailer who sold an iPhone to a particular customer could use targeted ads to try to reclaim the customer as they are searching for iPhone accessories.

It is further speculated that this move would be a way to counter Facebook’s “custom audiences” targeted ads that use a similar method of linking businesses with their past customers. Advertising services such as “custom audiences” helped Facebook’s ad revenue grow 65% in 2014 while Google’s ad revenue only grew by 17%.

If it goes forward, this new Google targeted ads option would have additional possibilities too. For example, according to sources this option would only be available for search ads, but it could eventually spread to banner ads. Capabilities could also expand to include lookalike ads where a business can target searchers who have similar profiles to their past customers.

This possible Google targeted ads venture demonstrates the increasing sophistication of advertising, where businesses can target not only the type of customer but instead the exact customer they are looking for. Since the data (email address) comes directly from the business, it also may raise concerns about data privacy, making some customers question what exactly happens when they give out their personal information.

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Jennifer Peaslee

Jennifer has a Masters in Sociology from the University of Notre Dame. She is currently working as a freelance writer, editor, blogger and researcher.

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