Although in-store sales remains very important for many organisations (up to 95% of sales in the US are made in-store), consumers are constantly connected and are demanding more and more touchpoints from businesses.

When someone sees an ad online, it doesn’t necessarily mean they will take action there and then, and multi-channel connectivity has made it increasingly difficult to measure the full impact of marketing online. As a result, attribution marketing is becoming increasingly key to business success.

How do online ads impact in-store sales

With an increase in call and location extensions, 32% of consumers stated location-based ads have encouraged them to visit a store, whilst 70% stated the ability to view location information on an ad as important (making them more likely to visit a store). As such, with a better insight into these new and complex purchase patterns, businesses can better understand customers, design better experiences and allocate budget more effectively.

Estimated Total Conversions

Back in 2013, Google launched estimated cross-device conversions in AdWords and this was the first step in providing advertisers with conversion insights that reflect the real-life impact of their campaigns. With the main focus on understanding where conversions come from, Google announced the initial US roll-out of the ‘Store Visits’ metric in Estimated Total Conversions on the 18th of December 2014. Don’t panic our fellow Brits, it will be arriving here soon!

Store Visit Metric

When new metrics are announced they are rarely discussed in great detail, however we think the ‘store visit metric’ could bring great value to our readers, so here we go. With this new metric, Google pulls location history data and by using a customer’s location Google can connect the clicks on AdWords ads with a store visit. Not only does this new metric allow businesses to identify which campaigns and devices drive the most visits to a store, it allows Google to help validate the role and importance of online activity in real-world sales.

How do I get the Store Visit Metric

It’s simple - to qualify for the Store Visit Metric, you must have a Google My Business account (formerly Google Places) and this must be linked to the AdWords account in which your ads run from. To find out more about linking your Google My Business and AdWords accounts, see here. Following this, there is no direct set up required, if you are eligible, the store visits column will appear in your Campaign and Conversion reports - hey presto!

Will this affect privacy of customers?

Following the launch of this new metric, many customers asked the prevalent question - “will my exact location be provided to Google?” - the answer is no. Instead, store visits are estimates based on aggregated anonymous data from a sample set of users that have turned on Location History.

Store Visits metric in action

On average, it has been estimated that 10-18% of clicks on search ads lead to a store visit and, as such, PetSmart has invested greater budget to reach out to customers across screens. Increasing the use of location extensions has paid off for PetSmart and it is now displaying maps and directions enabling customers to find nearby stores that stock the products they have included in their search query.

Believed to be highly beneficial to businesses with physical locations, the store visits metric enables businesses to identify top performing campaigns, products which encourage store visits and allows the business to be better informed over ad budget allocation. If you have ever wondered where you in-store customers have come from, the store visits metric is a dream come true.