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.
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
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.
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.
Matthew Capala is a seasoned digital marketing executive, founder/CEO of Alphametic, a Miami-based digital marketing agency, author of “The Psychology of a Website,” dynamic speaker, and entrepreneur.