Google is striving to prove to advertisers that online ads are directly contributing to in-store traffic by introducing a new tool to give insight into which ads motivate consumers to enter a store.

The tool, ‘store visits’, uses an algorithm to estimate the amount of people who went to a brick-and-mortar store within 30 days of viewing an ad.

Google has promised the data, which is gathered from smartphone users who opt to switch on their location history, will not pinpoint specific users.

‘Store visits’ will only be available in the US and participating advertisers will first need to verify their location with Google by setting up location extensions in AdWords.

Offline retail to increase

Google hopes the feature will improve in-store retail sales, which appear to be faring well under pressure from e-commerce. Although technology and market research company Forrester has predicted that e-commerce sales will grow by $150 billion by 2018, it also found that offline retail is set to expand by $300 billion.

Google director of product management Surojit Chatterjee believes online activities are influencing offline transactions more than before, and emphasises the importance of using this knowledge effectively.

“Thirty-two percent of consumers say that location-based search ads have led them to visit a store or make a purchase, so it’s more important than ever for businesses to understand the
impact that search ads have in driving visits to your physical locations.

“Getting better insight into these new, complex purchase paths can help you optimise your online marketing programs, design better experiences for your customers and allocate budget more effectively.”