As more business owners begin to understand how important internet ads are for local stores, there is a growing desire for more accurate metrics to show this value. Most internet advertising networks excel at tracking actions online, but are less useful in noticing when the action takes place offline. Google has introduced new metrics for AdWords that will measure in-store visits.
“If visits to your physical locations—like hotels, auto dealerships, restaurants, and retail stores—are important to your business, you can use conversion tracking to help you see how your ad clicks influence store visits,” Google wrote in a help section article on the new feature.
There are two ways that marketers can get data about in-store conversions, though one is far more accurate than the other. In the first method, no additional setup is required, but the data they give from this method is “Estimated In-Store Conversions”. The estimate is derived from anonymous data from mobile users who have their location data turned on. This means Google can estimate what percentage of ad clicks lead to trips to the store.
According to Econsultancy, PetSmart used the Estimate In-Store Conversions to learn that 10-18 percent of clicks on their search ads lead to a store visit. In response to this data, PetSmart has increased use of location extensions in its ads to show maps and directions to help people find nearby stores when they are searching for related products.
Similarly, Office Depot used the data to learn what products were driving the most in-store visits. They used these insights to help decide which products to include in its local inventory ads. These ads show whether or not a product is available in a nearby store and where the nearest store is located.
The other way tracks actual in-store conversions that started from online ads. The way this work is clever, but requires more action from the end user than is usually required when tracking data. But since these metrics specifically involve offline data, the extra work is unavoidable.
They way it works, AdWords provides gives the advertiser a unique ID, called a “GCLID,” for every click that comes to a website from an AdWords ad. To track offline conversions, the merchant saves that ID along with the usual lead information they would collect from someone who clicked the ad.
Later, when that person “converts” in the offline world, the merchant give that GCLID back to AdWords along with a few details about the type of conversion it was and when it happened. This allows AdWords to records the offline conversion along with all the other conversion tracking data.
The benefits of having this kind of in-store conversion data (estimated or actual) should be clear to business owners. Business owners can see which campaigns and devices drive the most store visits to your business. And it also makes it easier to understand the business’s return on investment (ROI) and make more informed decisions about future ad spending.
Anything that makes it easier for business owner and marketers to better evaluate and manage their campaigns is something to be taken advantage of. There are a few requirements, but it’s worth the effort for such useful data.
For more news about Google, read this article about Google’s plan to identify mobile friendly sites from the search results on mobile devices.