Google isn’t the first company to start measuring offline store visits. Facebook has done it; so has xAd, NinthDecimal, PlaceIQ, Placed and others. Indeed, those in the mobile ad space have been doing it for some time.
Yet Google’s introduction today of a new “Store Visits” metric is a watershed moment. As I say in my MarketingLand piece on the subject, we’re entering the era of the closed loop or at least a migration toward #metricsthatmatter.
Whither the click.
Google is using location history and location services (for both iPhone and Android) to determine whether users have visited stores following a click on a paid-search ad. All the data are anonymous (to the advertiser) and only those who “opt-in” through location services will be included.
Google will then extrapolate from the sample to the larger user population. For now this is US only and only applies to AdWords; over time however I suspect we’ll see Google roll it out across the Google Display Network as well.
Google doesn’t explicitly discuss whether this extension of Estimated Total Conversions will be cross-platform, but assume that it is: PC to store, mobile to store.
As I’ve repeatedly argued, offline metrics are going to be mandatory where possible and available. Metrics such as viewability, engagement and video completes will still be relevant to marketers, but impressions and clicks are increasingly going to be deemphasized.
There are billions of dollars in bot-driven online ad fraud and nearly 60 percent of online ad impressions are never seen. These data themselves argue in favor of “real” metrics such as store visits, sales (or calls).
Smartphones are not only radically changing the consumer-user experience (people still don’t fully “get” this), they’re making compelling new types of analytics available for the first time. These offline analytics are being used for media planning and buying, audience discovery and making traditional media (e.g., TV) more “accountable” and transparent.
I’ve argued to audiences for more than a decade that e-commerce is a sideshow and that the real impact of digital media and marketing are on real-world purchase decisions — representing trillions of dollars per year. Smartpnones and these new offline analytics are starting to make that online-to-offline connection much more visible to everyone.
People have long seen the “local market” as a “vertical” or a “niche.” That’s because people have only been looking at the tip of the iceberg. With things like Store Visits and other offline metrics, we’re finally starting to get a look at the rest of the iceberg.