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Google wants your email address to serve you ads

April 15, 2015, 2:35 PM UTC
Photograph by Philip Toscano — PA Wire/AP

In the never-ending quest for eyeballs and dollars, Google is said to be asking advertisers for customer data like email addresses to serve up more highly-targeted ads, the Wall Street Journal reports.

In the proposed idea, an advertiser — like an online retailer, for instance — would give Google more data about their customers, like their email addresses. Google would then use that data to let that retailer buy ads targeting those existing customers when they search for products the retailer sells.

Such a move mirrors a similar service Facebook launched in 2012. Called “custom audiences,” Facebook’s ad offering has helped the social media company grow its advertising revenue by 65% to $11.5 billion, the Journal notes, cutting into Google’s ad share.

Still, Google’s proposal could attract negative attention from consumer privacy groups. Via the Journal:

The proposed ads highlight the increasingly sophisticated ways that Internet companies track users’ online and offline activities for marketing purposes. Such tactics might raise questions about how well customers understand what businesses do with personal information they volunteer to a website or through a store loyalty program.

The Journal reports Google wants to roll out the new ad service sometime this year or early 2016. In an e-mail, Google told Fortune that the company is “always discussing potential product ideas with our clients, but have nothing new to share at this time.”

In its most recent earnings report, Google posted quarterly revenue of $18.1 billion, up from $16.86 billion year-over-year.