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The importance of measuring in-store actions from digital media

Andrew-Berry-director-Switch-On-MediaBy Andrew Berry, ‎paid media director at Switched on Media.

Australian consumers have one of the highest appetites for digital engagement in the developed world.

Digital interactions influence 40 per cent of in-store visits in Australia, compared with 27 per cent in the UK (Deloitte, 2015). In addition, according to the IAB/PwC Online Advertising Expenditure Report published last year, retail is the 3rd highest spending sector in digital marketing, which is no surprise given the amount of time consumers spend online (especially on mobile) and the rich targeting options available within platforms such as Google and Facebook which drive quantifiable, measurable results.

Source: Google – Understanding Consumers’ Local Search Behavior

Most online retailers will be well versed in looking at Cost Per Acquisition from a digital acquisition campaign standpoint and analysing a campaign’s effectiveness on online sales, but what they may be missing out on is the value driven by online campaigns to in-store sales.

There are a number of products in market that help advertisers do this – some are native to the advertising platforms themselves, such as Facebook and Google’s Store Visits (both products in various stages of Beta), as well as independent location-based tracking products, such as Proximiti or Walkbase. These platforms use various indicators to measure in-store visits, such as wi-fi signal, location, mapping and calibration data, location history, GPS and location settings permissions through apps are all used to to estimate store visits.

Facebook’s methodology for measuring store visits

Let’s start by looking at Google’s offering in the store visit measurement space. For starters, store visit conversions are available to a limited number of AdWords advertisers currently. In order to be eligible to measure store visit conversions you need to:

  • Have multiple physical store locations
  • 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

There is some work to do to get started but once set up, the benefits are huge, as you can measure which campaigns and devices drive the most traffic to your store (as you can imagine we often see mobile drive heavy footfall to stores) and adjust bids and budgets accordingly. Google has measured over 5 billion store visits from AdWords ads globally to date, so this is a growing feature that will only become more widely available as time passes.

Facebook have also been making significant strides in the store visits space in the past 12 months. It started with the release of their Store Visits ad unit last year, an offering which allows advertisers to target users with ads that have calls to action, maps, and text that’s based on the business location nearest to the person served your ad. Similar to Google’s offering, there are some setup requirements before you can begin. The main one being that all of a retailer’s individual stores are set up with their own Facebook page, so for retailers with a lot of stores this may be time consuming. If the individual stores all have pages, then the targeting options available are very strong; ad formats including image, video, and carousel can generate instant awareness of the nearest business location and provide information the customer needs to get there. Additionally, a native store locator is available for carousel ads saving advertisers time. Similar to Google, measuring Store Visits is only available to select advertisers currently, but advertisers can still use the buying method to optimise to reach as many people within your desired location as possible. Those with Store Visits measurement can report on cost per store visit which is highly beneficial for optimisation as well as informing the advertiser where store visitation intent is highest.

The holy grail for in-store visitation measurement would be measuring in-store purchases driven by digital interactions. Both Google and Facebook are working feverishly to get there and both are expected to announce developments in this area in the next 6-12 months. There are already a couple of hacks to do this – firstly, a crude way in which you would take store visits then take your average in-store conversion rate and average basket size in-store to give an overall value. Another way to do this would be to take email addresses of customers who bought in-store (or a Loyalty Program which contains this information), feed this audience into Google/Facebook as a custom audience and then cross-reference it with your existing audiences in these platforms.

In summary, it is essential you are thinking about measuring in-store visits from digital marketing activity, if you aren’t already. These actions powered by digital interactions are crucial to any omnichannel marketing strategy and better inform which channels, devices and locations are worth investing in. Make sure you are consciously making customers aware of store locations near them and think about KPIs for this metric once you have a form of measurement in place to truly cover all the bases.



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