Paid Search

Store Visits - Measuring The Impact That Online Ads Have On Offline Activities

Buying a car is more than just a purchase it’s a commitment. As it’s such a high value item there is still much hesitation to buying one online without a test-drive first or at least seeing it in the showroom. Therefore for automotive clients, we tend to track onsite actions such as ‘dealer locator’ or ‘test drive’. However, this type of tracking means that we often have little insight into what the consumer then goes on to do after completing an action on the website.

Not having access to the full picture of the consumer’s journey means that we are potentially missing out on pushing specific keywords that are driving visits to dealers. Likewise, it would also mean we’re pulling back on keywords that we think might not drive an onsite action but could be driving visits to dealers instead, all because we don’t have access to this level of insight.

Last year in the US, Google released a ‘store visits’ metrics in AdWords. This update allows users to measure the impact of search ads on in store traffic. Google does this by matching up a user’s proximity to an advertiser’s location on Google Maps as revealed in the location history activated on their smartphone.

The metric draws on search ad clicks across all devices and all campaign types with estimates based on store visits within the last 30 days of an ad click. As the data collected is only for logged in users, Google then takes this aggregated user data and extrapolates it to the broader population. It therefore isn’t a definite number but is a very good estimate.

Currently in the US, to be able to access this type of data you must have a Google My Business account linked to AdWords, set up location extensions in your Google My Business account and have a certain threshold of traffic. Reporting is at campaign level and therefore we recommended breaking out your campaigns by region or store location to show store visit estimates at that level of detail.

It is worth remembering that the metrics only estimate store visits rather than purchases specifically. However, there are rumours that Google is running a separate test to measure in-store transactions using retailers purchase data, which could be very valuable data, especially for those in the Automotive sector where driving a consumer to a dealer is a high value event.

In April 2015 Google posted a blog saying that store visits insights are gaining momentum and although they are keeping tight lipped on dates we are excited for its release in the UK. Having access to this type of data will help us join up the dots of a consumer’s purchase journey allowing us to be smarter with our optimisations and increase conversions for our clients.  

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