If you have an Adwords campaign to drive traffic to your online store, seeing how many sales it generated is easy—just look at the metrics. But what if you have a campaign to drive foot traffic to your brick and mortar stores? Now how many sales did the online ads generate? Suddenly it’s not so easy.
Google is hoping to change that. In a first not only for Google but for online marketing writ large, the company now tracks how many store visits an online AdWords campaign generates. That’s how many visitors physically walked through your door thanks to online ads.
And that’s pretty darn impressive.
How Do You Estimate Store Visits?
The data, which will appear as “Store Visits,” is an estimate. In fact, all conversions tracked by AdWords metrics are estimated, but Store Visits is more guess-based than most. That’s because there’s obviously no way to track exactly how many people see an ad and then go out to the nearest physical store; that data simply doesn’t exist.
But Google does have access to a large amount of location data. Specifically, users who enable Location History on their Apple or Android Google Maps app have already given Google permission to peek at their location data. Google never passes that information directly to advertisers—it never says Mr. So-and-So came into your store at 3:20 p.m.—but it can anonymize and aggregate the data to see trends. And that’s where Store Visits come from.
To estimate store visits, Google looks at how many total users went to the location of a store within 30 days of clicking an AdWords ad. The click could have been on any of a user’s devices, even their home desktop, although the location information obviously comes from mobile alone.
Google then extrapolates from this data (conservatively, it says) to estimate how many total shoppers went to your store after viewing the online ad.
Google is rolling out this new feature slowly, and it won’t be available to all types of advertisers. In order to be remotely accurate, Store Visits can only be applied to advertisers with a large sample base—in other words, big chain stores. If you have few locations or low foot traffic you probably can’t enable this metric.
Still, the Store Visits metric provides a huge leap forward. Connecting online advertising to offline sales is not just a longstanding puzzle, it’s one that marketers have been clamoring to solve. The fact that Google’s solution uses existing data is elegant and simple. Will it be accurate? That’s going to take a few months to find out.
Meanwhile, online or offline, there’s no doubt that mobile ads drive sales. EverSpark can help you design and launch a mobile advertising campaign that gets real results. Contact us today for a free consultation.
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