Google has been extending higher efforts to tie ad clicks to in-store traffic. On Wednesday, the search engine said it has obtained over four billion store visits after users clicked on an ad, this is way up from the one billion obtained a little less than a year ago.

Last September, Google stretched the two-year-old store visit measurement program to ads on the Display Network, it said there was significant visibility into visits to 200 million stores all over the world. Google says it’s advancements in components of the measurement process put it in a good spot to make store visit data available to thousands of more advertisers.

How They Measure

Google measures store visits on totaled, anonymous user date who opt into Location History tracking on phones, Google surveys, and maps. When location tracking is on, besides knowing a certain person saw (and maybe clicked) an ad, it can track your location in relativity to the business. So, basically, it would go through all location history and see if there is a coordinate match to the business. If your business is eligible, you could see the conversion rates from ad to in-store visit.

Updated Location Tracking

Now, location tracking isn’t exactly as easy as it sounds. Google says that in the past month, it has begun using deep learning models that can train on larger data sets to increase accuracy in prioritizing location signals. This kind of action allows the ability to more reliably measure store visits in contexts that are tricky like in shopping malls and dense geographies where many businesses are very close to each other.

Recently, mapping improvements like refreshing Google Earth and Street View images for a more up-to-date view of where buildings begin, end, and how much space they take up. A global effort to scan wifi strength in buildings can also help determine where business boundaries are.

As if the steps they are taking weren’t enough, Google surveys a number of users to verify the locations they’ve visited and then cross-references that feedback against its predictions to continue training the models. Now it even has teams to conduct in-person audits and site visits, for high-density areas, to provide more data.

Know How Many Customers to Expect

In November, Google added store visit data to the distance and location reports in AdWords for users to see more detail on how far consumers were from their store location when they clicked on an ad and what areas drive the highest volume of in-store visits, within each postal code.

This information is useful in knowing when and what site to put up a certain ad. As well as knowing whether users are on their devices while they are out or at home.

Say, for instance, you have a store in a multi-story mall that has separate restaurants located outside. You might see during lunch and dinner times that your ads are hitting users at those locations while they are scrolling through phones at the table. The user might see the ad and think “Hey, I know that store is right there in the mall, I should check out what they have after I eat.” So, in locations like this, it wouldn’t be surprising to see an influx of business as people browse through after their meal.

Limitations of AdWords

There are a number of limitations on this model. It is not for start-up businesses. This doesn’t mean they can’t be small businesses, but they should be multi-location or franchises because they do have to meet some requirements:

  • Multiple physical store locations in eligible countries.
  • Get thousands of clicks and many store visits.
  • Google My Business linked with AdWords account.
  • Have each store location in My Business account.

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