January 24, 2017

Impact of Online Advertising on Offline Purchases

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Michael Jenkins
Michael Jenkins

CEO - Shout Agency
[email protected]


Google has started rolling out “Store Visits” metric in Estimated Total Conversions (ETC) to meet the demand of the retail industry that want to learn the impact of online advertising has on offline or in store purchases. For years now retailers have wanted to know how online promotions affect in store consumer behaviour and this latest tool is to help answer that question. As part of Google AdWords Estimated Total Conversions, this new tool hopes to measure the impact of online marketing on offline purchasing behaviour.

Ecommerce has grown to become a well-established part of our purchasing mechanism. It is extremely popular in North America, but when you look at all retail sales, online purchases account for less the 7% of all purchasing activity.

With the introduction of smartphones, this device has grown into a sort of a guide inside stores as consumers use it to assist them with offline purchasing decisions. As a result, this phenomenon is important to understand and marketers need this information to adapt their campaigns to suit both the online and offline world of retail.

Store Visits is currently only available be in the US (as of 2014), but its reach is expected to grow over the coming years. This new technology works by the Google network verifying a store visit depending on how close you are to the advertiser’s store. But this will only work if location history is activated on Android and Apple phones.

How you can measure the impact of online advertising on your offline purchases

The research in online purchase and offline statistics data is anonymous, aggregated, and is a generalised estimation that is meant to be a reflection of the populace. These estimates will be based on store visits that are within a 30 day time period from an ad click event. The Store Visits metric gathers search ad click data across all devices while making a note of the type of campaign which includes local inventory ads and listing ads. As a result it has become increasingly necessary for advertisers to get their business location verified by Google while also associating their campaigns with the search giant.

The metric reports only provide data that concerns a particular campaign. As a result these reports will not provide much data in extensive detail. It is basically an estimation of visits to the store and does not provide information concerning purchases. For that, Google will be testing another tool to measure in-store purchases.

As a result of privacy and security, the information will always remain an estimate. Advertisers will not know where the consumers are located and as a result the consumer’s actions will not be directly attributed to the ad click. As a result of these issues, Google has continuously maintained that these estimates are essentially moderate.

In order to gather enough data to sample, Google will require a considerable sample to work with. So it makes sense to expect this new feature to only work for large retailers who have several locations and a large enough customer base to sample online activity and offline purchases.

The program has a lot of potential to not only serve large retail enterprise, but also smaller business and service providers. But the program is currently in its infancy and Google has been testing it at the retailer PetSmart and Office Depot. According to the data gathered by Store Visits, ad clicks generate 10-18% of store visits at PetSmart. Office Depot on the other hand has been using it to measure shopping campaigns and local inventory ads.

Key Benefits of Store Visits

• Make informed decisions on marketing activity such as strategies and campaign elements

• Identify the devices that drive the most store visits

• Plan budgets with a better understanding of ROI

It remains to be seen if this new tool will take off and be embraced by the masses. It was created to show advertisers the importance of AdWords in an offline environment. With competitors like Facebook developing their own tools like Atlas, it is highly likely that this tool will evolve to provide better understanding of the impact of online ads on offline purchases.

How do you get it?

• The physical location of the business has to be in the US (for now)

• Create a Google My Business account

• Link it to AdWords Account

• Create location extensions to the Google Business Account

• Have a track record of a large number of ad clicks

• Have numerous stores in various locations

• Have a history of large number of store visits

Final Word

If you want to learn more how Shout! can help your online advertising improve offline sales, contact one of our digital marketing strategists today!

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        As Founder and Director of Shout Web Strategy, Michael Jenkins is at the forefront of digital marketing. Since it’s inception in 2009, Shout has built a strong reputation as one of Australia’s leading strategic SEO agencies, assisting online businesses to formulate, implement and track successful marketing strategies. Michael is a respected thought leader and digital strategist, specialising in online strategy, corporate SEO, Google retargeting, email and conversion rate optimisation, and online reputation management. Follow Michael on Google+, connect with him through LinkedIn or visit the Shout Web Strategy website.

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