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Google Makes “Store Visits” Trackable

In a huge move for online to offline conversion tracking, Google launched a new metric in AdWords called “Store Visits.” Using data from Google Maps and Location History in iPhones and Androids, this metric estimates how many store visits are connected to searches and clicks in a certain proximity to a retail location.

The implications of “Store Visits” are huge for eCommerce retailers with brick-and-mortar storefronts. Ripen marketing director Dave Rekuc believes this data will bring more relevant and informative ads to modern consumers.

“Ads that are more measurable and rely on an auction system will result in more relevant ads in front of consumers,” Rekuc says. “More relevant ads cost more money to advertisers. More revenue for publishers means free content (like Google and Facebook) can be supported with fewer ads. Google pulls in $50 billion in advertising revenue with less intrusive ads, while Facebook only earns $3.7 billion.”

How does it work? Data is extrapolated from a smaller set onto a larger portion of the population. So one click doesn’t necessarily mean one store visit, and currently only big name retailers with multiple locations can truly use the metric because the program needs a relatively large data set to accurately estimate visits. However, small and midsize retailers can contact Google to see if their business is eligible.

Google makes it very clear that the data it sends to retailers is completely anonymized. Even so, it raises privacy concerns. This is the first technology of its kind to be used on a major scale so users are bound to push back initially. But after the potential outcry dies down, we can expect this tracking to become the norm.

Following online customers as they shop in-store is essential for omnichannel merchants. “Store Visits” looks to be a major step in learning about and tracking consumers’ offline behavior.

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