You Can Now See if Your Google Ads Drive In-Store Visits – Learn How

open store sign


In our increasingly digital landscape, the discovery phase of online marketing is key to introducing a novel customer to your brand for the very first time. But, in a landscape filled with all sorts of distractions and digital disruptions – how can we plausibly determine that our online efforts of discovery and introducing a brand leads to an offline visit to your location. It’s a cause for concern – and the caveat of online marketing is the inability to track the customer journey from online interaction to in-store visit.

Google was aware of this pitfall – and has worked to amass deep-learning technologies and algorithms to accurately determine how online advertising drives in-person visits to brick and mortar locations.

Using anonymized location-based data, Google has taken on this task of merging the online and the offline by detailing and matching coordinates and boundaries of physical locations using services like Google Earth and Google Maps Street View to GPS on personal devices.

But what does this mean for advertisers and business owners?

For you, this means Google can estimate with 99% accuracy the actual number of foot traffic that enters your location after an ad click. And that’s pretty crazy.


How it works

Store visit data is based on anonymous, aggregated statistics.

“Recent mapping improvements include a refresh of Google Earth and Google Street View images to get up-to-date views of where buildings begin and end, as well as a global effort to scan WiFi strength in more buildings to determine business boundaries.

Google surveys some users to verify the locations they’ve visited and then reconciles that feedback against its predictions to continue training the models. In addition, Google says it now has teams that conduct in-person audits and site visits.” – Search Engine Land,

Using deep machine learning algorithms , along with access to anonymized data, individuals’ location histories, and precision-based extrapolations, Google Ads creates modeled numbers by using current and past data on the number of people who click or view your ads and later visit your location.

“We do this with machine learning at the core,” said Jerry Dischler, VP of product management for AdWords in an interview. “We couldn’t measure store visits without ML.”


What technology is used:

  • Google Earth and Google Maps Street View data.
  • Mapping of the coordinates and borders of hundreds of millions of stores globally.
  • Wi-Fi signal strength in stores.
  • GPS location signals.
  • Google query data.
  • Visit behavior.
  • Panel of over 1 million opted-in users provides their on-ground location history validate data accuracy and inform the modeling.       

What the data says about online ads influencing offline success

In just three years, Google says it has measured four billion store visits.

88% of people who conduct a local search on their smartphone visit a related store within a week.

google store visits stat


According to a Google study titled “Google/Purchased Digital Diary: How Consumers Solve Their Needs In the Moment”

  • 7 in 10 smartphone owners who make an in-store purchase take a relevant action on their phone prior to purchase
  • People who click on an advertiser’s Google search ad before visiting a store are over 25% more likely to buy something there
  • They also spend over 10% more on average


google store visit statistics

Nissan has referred to in-store visits as a “holy grail” of online marketing – with most buyers in the automotive industry wanting to visit a showroom before a purchase.

Marc Palmer, Nissan UK Marketing Manager said, “Now we are able to find out that someone searched for us and then they went and bought a car – that’s kind of getting close to the Holy Grail.”

And who are we to argue with Nissan, we think they know a thing or two about success.


Who Can Use Google In-Store Visits?

According to Google Ads, these are the requirements to be eligible for this Google Ads tool:

  • Have multiple physical store locations in eligible countries. Ask your account representative if store visit conversions are available in your location.
  • Receive thousands of ad clicks and viewable impressions.
  • Have a Google My Business account linked to your Google Ads account.
  • Create each of your store locations in your Google My Business account.
  • Have at least 90% of your linked locations verified in Google My Business.
  • Ensure location extensions are active in your account.
  • Have sufficient store visits data on the backend to attribute to ad click or viewable impressions traffic and pass our user privacy thresholds.


Big Picture

If you haven’t already incorporated Google in-store visits into your analytics, you can potentially be missing out on insightful data that can shed light on your Ad’s effectiveness. See if you’re eligible and start gathering the “holy grail” data.

Visit our SEM service page if you need help setting up your store visit tracking.


Are You Taking Advantage of the New Extended and Responsive Google Ads?

google ads trend update

New Extended and Responsive Ads

Google recently introduced further extending text ads by adding a third, 30-character headline, attached to the first two headlines, along with a second, 90-character description. This comes at the heels of Google announcing their “360 Suite” where we saw Google Adwords get a rebrand. This allows us, as the advertiser, to more prominently feature exciting benefits to the consumer with added messaging that enhances overall quality. Advertisers now have the flexibility to communicate added messaging like the brand name in the first headline, official site or similar in the second headline, and a third benefit, like free shipping or an offer for discounted orders online.

Google also announced the launch of responsive text ads, which combine an ad in real-time from a list of up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions…we’ll discuss this in more detail below.

google ads 3rd headline example

Benefits of Increased Ad Size and Additional Messaging

Expanded text ads, along with ad extensions, like site links and call extensions, work in synergy to increase overall ad size and perceived value in the SERP. Google’s case studies are evidence for increased performance – praising expanded text ads for helping to increase user engagement through higher click-through rates and increases in other key performance metrics. With a further increase in ad size and messaging, Google’s expansion to additional messaging in ads creates more weight to paid ads displaying prominently. It’s a bullseye for brands looking to literally be front and center at the top of the SERPs.

Smart Performance With Responsive Machine Learning

Google’s exciting announcement is the launch of new responsive text ads. Responsive text ads answer the machine learning puzzle that has become more integrated with Google’s automated algorithms throughout the years.

With responsive ads, the advertiser now has the flexibility to add up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions for a single ad. Google suggests, “for a responsive search ad, provide as many headlines and descriptions as makes sense for your business. If you’re having trouble getting started, we recommend focusing on creating at least five headlines.”

Machine learning is designed to predict which ad combination in real-time will result in higher performance for a matched search query.
The recommendation from Google is for every ad group to have at least 3 ads, including a responsive search ad to accommodate and increase the likelihood that you’ll have a winning combination between all variant ads, headlines, and descriptions.

Responsive ads are a win-win for the advertiser and searcher. They provide freshness through instantaneous Ad combinations to the eyes of return visitors familiar with the brand and new visitors alike that are “window shopping” at leisure in the SERP.

Best practices from Google

google search ads best practices(Source: Google Blog)

Tips for entering your headlines

• Keep in mind that headlines and descriptions may appear in any order.
• Try writing the first 3 headlines as if they’ll appear together in your ad.
• Be sure to include at least one of your keywords in your headlines, and create headlines that are relevant to the keywords you’re targeting.
• Try creating headlines of different lengths; don’t try to maximize the character count in every headline.
• Focus on providing as many distinct headlines as you can. More headlines give Google Ads more options for assembling your messages into relevant ads, which may increase performance.
• Try highlighting additional product or service benefits, a problem you’re solving, or highlight shipping and returns information. Learn more about creating responsive search ads
• If you can provide even more headlines, try creating variations of the headlines you’ve already entered. For example, try a different call to action.

With more Google Ad options your PPC Ads can become more sophisticated and targeted to your consumers. What do you think about these new changes?

If you want to read about more Google Updates, check out our 2018 SEO Google Trends post.