Google’s latest updates help to connect online and offline

Pete Whitmarsh

Head of Paid Media

Industry News

The customer journey in 2020 is not a simple one, and many consumers will research a brand across multiple channels before committing to buy. Many will research a product online before buying in-store; searches for ‘available near me’ have grown globally by over 100% since last year, and data shows that users who interact with search ads and listings are more likely to buy, and spend more, than customers who haven’t engaged with a brand online first.

Google’s latest updates improve their offline sales section, helping brands to deliver and measure in-store sales through online activity.

Local campaigns can now be optimised towards calls and directions

Historically, only retailers with Store Visit Tracking set up have been able to optimise local campaigns towards calls and directions, however, all retailers are now able to optimise towards these actions. This is great for retailers where Store Visit Tracking isn’t suitable or are in countries where it isn’t available, as it allows them to now optimise campaigns towards increasing footfall and offline sales.

Retailers on Google My Business can now add health-related service attributes

Shoppers are planning their trips out more cautiously as a result of COVID-19, with many preferring to visit stores with stricter policies in place. This update gives retailers with a Google My Business account the option to add clear safety-related service attributes to their listings, such as whether people will be required to wear a mask and if there will be temperature checks in place.

Local inventory ads are now available for future product collections

Previously, it has only been possible to run local inventory ads for products which are available at that moment in time. Now, businesses will be able to run ads for products which have future availability – meaning brands can secure customers who may have turned elsewhere due to a lack of immediate availability.

Smart bidding for in-store sales

This update allows retailers to optimise campaigns towards driving in-store sales, not just store visits. To use this update, you will need to upload store sales data (email or phone number and the value of the sale) – Google then connects this back to the user’s Google account and this data can be used to adjust bids.

You will need to have at least 6,000 offline conversions a month to protect individual’s privacy, and a minimum of 500k clicks per 90 days, as well as uploading data a minimum of once a week for accuracy (although daily is better) to use this feature. For brands who can meet these criteria, this is a really exciting new feature which should improve the quality of customers driven to the store and increase offline spending.

Chains can now set up locations without connecting Google Ads and Google My Business

Large chains are no longer required to connect Google Ads with Google My Business to set up their location; instead, they can select their store location from Google’s curated list within Google Ads. For chains with hundreds of stores, this can save a huge amount of admin – especially if the stores have separate owners or teams running Google My Business accounts.

Joining offline and online activity improves the customer journey and is a more efficient use of budget and resource.  For businesses where driving offline sales is a huge part of their overall strategy, these updates make it easier for them to optimise their digital strategy to increase in-store footfall and sales.