The other day, I had stopped into the mall and was checking out a new fall cologne at the fragrance counter. (In case you’re wondering, I sadly didn’t find one that was worthy of the upcoming cool weather.)
Several hours later, when I was at home and jumped online, I noticed display advertising from that same retailer advertising the same cologne I tried on. The brand itself was pretty obscure and I hadn’t searched for it online previously. This couldn’t be coincidence!
It turns out that it probably wasn’t. I may have inadvertently beta tested the next generation of retargeting courtesy of Google. An article on Digiday.com discusses a new program Google is testing that links smartphone location data (tracking store visits, for example) to online search behavior. So for example, would my search for a screwdriver on my mobile phone ultimately sync up with a visit to my local hardware store. This would be valuable data for Google to prove to advertisers that their search can drive offline revenue for their customers, in addition to immediate online sales.
But what happened to me was in reverse. It’s possible that Google can now retarget my real world behavior with online follow-ups. I use the Google search app on my iPhone and location services are enabled. Does the retailer have a way of micro-targeting different sections of their store and linking that to a Google user to retarget them afterward during their online behavior? Do they know I was at the counter for a specific brand and can they use that information to remind me about it later when I’m home?
Considering the huge trend of showrooming – people visiting stores to see a product in person only to return home and purchase the item online – it’s possible that this is part of this new beta test. Sadly, Google didn’t comment for the article, so we’ll probably have to wait to find out. But it does create plenty of possibilities for the future as multi-channel, coordinated marketing gets smarter and smarter.