Google Store Visits Explained

Have you heard all the buzz about tracking store visit conversions?  Both Google and Facebook have been making heavy investments into this unique tracking feature with Google releasing it's first iteration back in 2014.  Facebook followed suit and released their own version in 2017, but theirs is still a limited invite only closed beta.  Since 2014 Google has been steadily improving their ability to track in store conversions which has improved not only its accuracy, but expanded the number of brick and mortar locations that qualify to use this feature.

 
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So what are store visit conversions and how can you utilize them?

If you are advertising your local business on Google Adwords, store visit conversions track users that click your ad to your website, but then later visit your brick and mortar location.  Simple right?  But how does Google get this data?  They use a variety of data points, but most specifically your cell phone's location history.  Before you get too concerned about their tracking, the data cannot be tied to an individual click or person and is anonymous and aggregated.  

Google uses the following to help provide this data:

  • Google Earth and Maps street view data
  • Mapping coordinates and borders of millions of stores nationwide and globally
  • Wi-fi signal strength in each store
  • GPS location signals
  • Google search query data
  • Visitor behavior in the stores
  • A panel over over 1 million opted in users provide their on-ground location history to validate data accuracy and help inform modeling

Here's a short video from Google Small Business explaining this feature:

 
 

To go even further Google surveyed more than 5 million people to confirm they actually visited a store if Google tracked them doing so.  This helps Google update their algorithm to ensure 99% accuracy.

There are some definite limitations to the data.  Since the data is anonymous the segmenting available in your Adwords account is limited.  Also, the data is much more accurate as the numbers get larger.  Google will only report a store visit if their near 100% sure it is accurate.

Last year Google made it's latest updates: See more on the latest updates on the Adwords Blog

There are a few exciting ways you can now see the data in your Adwords account. One of them is looking at days to conversion.  This shows how long it took a user from first clicking your ad to visiting your store location.  There's also a distance report and you can see how far a user was from your store when they clicked your ad if it let to an in store visit.

Distance report example:

 
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How can you access this data for your store location?  Here's what you need to qualify:

  • Have multiple physical store locations in eligible countries. Ask your account representative if store visit conversions are available in your location.
  • Receive thousands of ad clicks and many store visits.
  • Have a Google My Business account linked to your AdWords account.
  • Create each of your store locations in your Google My Business account.
  • Have at least 90% of your linked locations verified in Google My Business
  • Ensure location extensions are active in your account. 
  • Have sufficient store visits data on the backend to attribute to ad click traffic and pass our user privacy thresholds.

See more here at Google

If you qualify for store visit conversion tracking either the conversions will be added automatically from Google and if not you can contact Google and request it be added to your Adwords account.  The data will show in your all conversions column.  This is a great feature to see the value of your advertising when you have a brick and mortar location and we definitely cannot wait until Facebook opens their store visit tracking up to more advertisers.