Just because someone sees an online ad, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll click through immediately to your ecommerce site.

They might just make a phone call to your helpline later in the day, or walk into your high street shop the following week.

The outcome is the same, you’ve driven traffic to your business with a campaign, however it’s difficult to accurately measure its effectiveness.

Although we tend not to cover every last update to a particular product, the latest update to Google AdWords, which purports to allow you to measure store visits from online ads, is an interesting one to look at.

According to eMarketer roughly 95% of retail sales still take place in physical stores, but according to Google’s own data, 32% of consumers say that location-based search ads have led them to visit a store or make a purchase.

Here are a few more stats I’ll throw at you while we’re here: 

  • More than 70% of consumers who have used ad features such as directions or the call button say it’s important to have location information in ads.
  • 74% of shoppers want to see how much inventory there is for a product at a nearby store.

It’s clear that businesses need to understand the impact that paid search ads have in driving visits to physical locations, and to get better insight into how complex purchase paths can help optimise marketing campaigns and most importantly design better experiences for customers.

Store visit measurement

The new metric will help you:

  • See which campaigns and devices drive the most store visits to your business.
  • Understand your return on investment (ROI) and make more informed decisions about your ad creatives, spend, bid strategies, and other elements of your campaigns.

In order to be eligible to measure store visit conversions you need to have a Google My Business account linked to your AdWords account. Currently the measurement is only available to businesses with multiple physical store locations in the US, so UK users will have to wait for their turn.

There is no set-up required. If you’re eligible, conversions from store visits will be added to the Estimated Total Conversion columns in your campaign reports.

You’ll also see a new conversion action called ‘Store Visits’ added to your conversion reports. There is lots more practical information on how to access the feature here: about store conversions

Google has insisted that it never provide anyone’s actual location to advertisers.

Instead, store visits are estimates based on aggregated, anonymous data from a sample set of users that have turned on Location History.

This data is then extrapolated to represent the broader population. 


Google has provided a couple of case studies from businesses using the insight.

Office Depot uses insights from store visits data to understand which products, such as laptops, printers or backpacks, are driving people to visit one of its 2,000 retail locations.

These insights help it decide which products to include in its local inventory ads. These ads show whether or not a product is available in a nearby store and where the nearest store is located.

This makes it simple for customers to discover what products are in stock as they’re shopping and researching online.

PetSmart uses store visits data to improve its customer shopping experience.

Based on the insight that 10-18% of clicks on search ads lead to a store visit, PetSmart is now investing more in ads that reach customers across screens.

For example, PetSmart has increased use of location extensions in its ads to show maps and directions to help people find nearby stores when they are searching for related products.

Further reading…

For lots more information on the blog about search marketing, check out: