This morning in about an hour we’re going to hear about Google’s mobile wallet/NFC-based payments launch. But I suspect there will be some interesting wrinkles beyond what’s already been leaked.
I suspect that Google will attempt to connect offers/deals/check-ins and payments in store. In other words, we’ll see some form of end-to-end targeting and tracking: online ad/offer –> in store redemption –> data factored back in to retailers, Google and other third parties. If we don’t see that sort of thing immediately, it’s on the roadmap.
Putting the dramatic privacy concerns aside for the moment, we’re on the threshold of the “closed loop.” Tracking online ads to offline activity at the point of sale has always been very difficult and, as a consequence, the inability to do so has obscurbed the online-offline buying patterns of consumers.
Mobile has helped partly close the loop (see e.g., ScoutMob) and shined a bright light on consumer behavior around the internet’s influence on offline buying.
But with mobile payments, GPS and the range of mobile ads now coming into use we’re about to enter a totally new era of targeting, tracking and optimization. Again there are some major privacy hurdles for advertisers and platform providers. But whole new sets of data and levels of sophistication will come into play.
While it’s uncertain how many people will be able to use Google Wallet after launch the fact of the trial and related publicity marks a kind of watershed moment — not just for mobile payments in the US but for digital advertising in a less obvious but potentially profound way.