Apple Pay, the Answer to In Store Attribution

apple pay

While everyone was buzzing about the new Apple Watch, which, let’s face it, everyone is accidentally calling the iWatch, Marc Poirier, Acquisio co-founder and EVP, was more concerned with the other announcements at Apple’s release, notably the new Apple Pay system.

Mobile payment systems are nothing new, Google released a similar feature for Android phones and was unsuccessful, but because Apple released this feature (and because of the fanatical audience of Apple adorers) Apple Pay is poised to succeed.

If Apple Pay does take off, this is great news for digital marketers. Here’s Why.

More Effective Means of Tracking Success

“Today to track success in online advertising we measure transactions and conversions that happen online,” explains Marc. “Someone sees an ad on their mobile or desktop device, they click the ad, they arrive at a merchant landing page, and they convert by putting in their credit card details and making a purchase online.”

For this ecommerce transaction, the loop is closed and it is easy to track where customers came from. Proper attribution helps advertisers improve ad and effectively bid and budget, without it, it is much harder, if not impossible, to effectively optimize ads that direct users to make offline purchases.

For SMBs and retailers who don’t offer eCommerce, or for multichannel businesses that are unable to attribute in store purchases to online advertising, Apple Pay is a game changer.  Right now, when you send a customer to a physical store, you lose track of where they came from. You can know when someone clicks on your ad but there’s no way of telling for sure if that person bought something at your store.

The closest way of capturing this information so far is with beacons.

“Some merchants use beacons like a virtual geo fence, which very accurately tracks and detects when a person who once clicked a mobile ad enters the store with their same mobile device,” described Marc. “Using beacons, these stores are able to track clients that enter the store after clicking an ad.”

This attribution method exists, but it is not widely adopted, and the problem is there is still no way to tell how much that customer spent in the store, if anything.

“What’s much more exciting for advertisers is to know that someone clicked an ad, went into a store and bought something. And that is exactly what payment systems like Apple Pay enable,” said Marc.

Aaron Levy, PPC expert and Consultant, shared his two cents, saying that, “One thing to remember is that Google tried mobile payments with Google Wallet and failed miserably. Another prominent payment platform, LevelUp, was also ineffective for businesses since shops had to pay a fee on top of credit card processing fees to use the system.”

There are still so many questions about Apple Pay’s adoption details, and those details are what will make or break this offering.

Adoption, Adoption, Adoption

“It’s all about merchant adoption,” agrees Marc. “No one accepted Google Wallet so it was unsuccessful.”

The idea with Apple Pay is that you can store info and use near field communication to tap and pay, like PayPass, and instead of a signature or a pin number you verify your credit card details with fingerprint recognition.

The appeal is there, but will it be accepted at most stores?

If Apple creates a closed system, where only people with Apple devices that use iAd are addressed, then it will not be widely adopted. If Apple Pay is an open system advertisers should be excited by its promise.

In theory, an open system would mean anyone with an ad system could connect a customer’s mobile payments back to an ad click or a call tracking phone call. Then, once it is hooked up to an API, that info can be brought into AdWords to track sales.

Imagine, finally tracking in store payments just as you would online purchases. Companies with payment systems will enable Google, Yahoo, Facebook and Microsoft to connect into their system to capture that information.

“It’s about closing the loop from online to offline,” said Marc. “That is what’s exciting for advertisers, especially in the local space.”

If Apple Pay is not adopted by most stores, then it will go the way of most mobile payment options and be forgotten. AdWords will not waste time and money building support for something that is used by only a small percent of retailers, so marketers will see no change if this mobile payment system is not widely adopted.

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Jillian Zacchia

Jillian Zacchia

Jill is a professional writer, editor and social media procrastinator. With a degree in Literature and Communications from McGill, she started her journalism career writing about lifestyle and entertainment for teen magazines, and after dabbling with wedding and travel writing she began the transition towards content creation for start ups, marketing and tech companies.

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