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Google Offline Conversion API a Blessing and a Curse

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sales-keyboard-buttonMaking the connection between offline conversions and online traffic data has always been a difficult issue. If a visitor comes to your site, but then completes a transaction in-person, it is difficult to track that back to the web, let alone any paid search ads you may have used.

Along the way, there have been telephone tracking plug-ins that use unique phone numbers to track a specific visitor to a phone call. However, these methods can be costly and tricky to implement.

Just before Christmas, Google's DoubleClick division announced the Conversions API to help retailers quickly and automatically track off-line conversions originating from paid ad campaigns.

The API is available as a limited beta to only a few DoubleClick customers. However, those customers have a REST state API that will automatically send purchase information back into DoubleClick and associate them with the appropriate campaigns.

The API has three functions:

  • Insert is used to upload a new batch of conversions.
  • Update will modify data for a previously uploaded batch of conversions.
  • Get acts as a search function that returns data about transactions that match your search criteria.

What About Privacy?

According to the DoubleClick announcement, "Advertisers are prohibited from sending personally identifiable information using this feature, as outlined by the Terms of Service for the API."

However, privacy advocates are concerned with Google's new offline reach. DoubleClick's first statement was misleading to some who originally thought Google could track you offline only to later serve ads to you. Clearly, however, if Google has sales information tracked back to its ad information, you're still likely to see more ads for whatever you just purchased.

Advertisers and retailers clearly need better ways of tracking offline conversions – but at what cost? Remember that Google is still a trusted online identity provider.

Are you for or against offline conversion data being uploaded?


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