Bridging the gap: Measuring in-store visits from online ads

Bridging the gap: Measuring in-store visits from online ads
Johor, Malaysia - Dec 9, 2013: Photo of Google website on a monitor screen. Google Inc. is an American multinational corporation specializing in Internet-related services and products, Dec 9, 2013 in Johor, Malaysia.

Back in 2014, Google launched what is set to become a significant step to connecting on and offline marketing activities for bricks and mortar businesses. Roughly 90% of retail sales take place in physical stores, and online activities are influencing these transactions more than ever.

This has always posed a problem: We can accurately tracking online purchases but understanding the impact on offline sales has never been an exact science: This is now set to change.
Google has been trialling this with select companies within the US and the UK for some time (Google claims more than 1 billion store visits have been measured thus far). This year, in-store conversions will become more widely available to more types of businesses.


How are in-store conversions measured?

It’s very simple; Google simply looks at the consumers phone location history to see whether the person who searched and clicked on your adverts, then went on to visit your store.

Pretty cool eh?


What about privacy and data security?

I’ve mentioned this upcoming feature at a number of events over the last couple of years, and some have been alarmed at the prospect of their data being used in this way. However, according to Google you don’t have to worry:

“This feature has been carefully designed to keep data private and secure.  We never provide anyone’s actual location to advertisers. Instead, store visits are estimates based on aggregated, anonymized data from a sample set of users that have turned on Location History. This data is then extrapolated to represent the broader population.”

(More about location history here)

Put simply, it’s likely you already have apps on your phone which use this same location history data – particularly if you use your phone for navigation, or traffic alerts for example.


How will this impact Google AdWords campaigns?

It should be significant in many ways: As an example, Nissan UK discovered that 6% of people who clicked ads went to a dealership resulting in 25x ROI.

This extra layer of data will not only help you understand the ROI of your online ad campaigns when it comes to offline visits but will help you optimise around them to improve performance.


In Summary

We don’t yet know which business ‘types’ Google will make this available too. We hope it will cover a range of retail outlets, restaurants and public attractions but time will tell!

Either way, it’s coming: The void between on and offline sales is becoming smaller and smaller. If you’re not running a digital marketing campaign, you should seriously start planning too – and soon.