Hot on the heels of Facebook’s introduction of ‘Custom Audiences’, Google is looking for a new way to target ads more directly.

Custom Audiences is Facebook’s way of doing this, and the feature allows advertisers to upload a list of email addresses of customers or website users, and then target ads to those users, based on their email addresses, directly into their newsfeeds.

And now it looks like Google is gearing up to do something similar. Here’s how it may work: if you own a store that sells sporting goods, and a customer buys a cricket bat from you, you’ll be able to use their email address (which they gave to you when they made a payment) to target specific ads to that person.

So if you know somebody bought a cricket bat, you’ll definitely want to start advertising directly to them to buy cricket balls, shin pads, wickets, and everything else they may need to play cricket with.

But What About My Privacy?

Your initial thought may be something along the lines of “But I didn’t give that advertiser permission to use my email address in that way.” But the fact of the matter is that advertisers have already been doing this for years with your postal address through the snail mail network. And Google already collects a huge amount of data about you so using your email for ads should hardly come as a surprise.

It isn’t yet clear how Google will be able to link an email address and a person. One possible way of doing this is to use only Gmail addresses as this is something that Google stores more data on. They may also be able to link your email and your person by using the secondary email addresses that Google often requests when signing up for one of its many services such as Youtube, Google Maps, and the Google Play Store.

A Better Way To Target Ads

Even if you do have concerns about Google using your email address for advertising, what’s the worst case scenario? You end up buying something you may actually want or need?

These targeted ads will make the job of advertising to a specific audience that much easier. If Google and Google advertisers know exactly what type of things you’re interested in buying, they can then target ads based on that information so that you can find the perfect Blu-Ray player to go with that flat screen TV you just bought. Or allow advertisers to tell you there’s a special on the new Lady Gaga album because you bought the last one two years ago.

Google may also introduce the possibility of advertising to ‘lookalikes’ – a feature already available on Facebook advertising – which allows an advertiser to target an audience which Google believes are similar and have similar interests.

In their recent announcements, Google hasn’t given a date when this will be made available, or even if they’ve made a solid decision to go ahead with this method of advertising. But if they do, you can probably expect it to be launched by the end of the year.