This morning, at Google Marketing Next in San Francisco, the company is making a number of ads and analytics-related announcements. Among them, Google announced a new multitouch attribution tool called Google Attribution. It also announced location extensions for YouTube and in-store sales measurement for AdWords.
The company is increasingly focused on showing the offline impact of online ad exposures. Location extensions, which have been available for search and display campaigns for quite a long time are now coming to YouTube. That means address/map location, hours, photos, call buttons and other information will soon be available for YouTube ads.
Below is an example of the recently updated GDN mobile format with location extensions. Video will be similar with mobile users primarily in mind.
Google Director of Product Management, Kishore Kanakamedela, said over the phone that since 2014, Google has measured more than 5 billion store visits in 17 countries. He also discussed how machine learning has greatly improved Google’s location accuracy for more precise store-visits analytics. For example, Google now says it can measure specific store visits in vertical shopping malls with confidence.
Store visits measurement will also be available soon for YouTube campaigns. Kanakamedela added that QSR chain Wendy’s was able to track over 1 million store visits driven by video ads during a campaign run late last year.
Beyond store visits analytics, Google is expanding in-store sales measurement, which it has been testing since 2014. Facebook introduced offline sales measurement in 2013. The latter requires the advertiser to send hashed transaction data back to Facebook for matching on the back end.
There are two levels to Google’s in-store sales measurement. The more basic level will report on the in-store sales impact of AdWords campaigns without any back-end integration on the part of the advertiser. Google does this by comparing store visits using smartphone data with credit card transactions in the aggregate. In this way the company can determine whether, during some conversion window, online ads generated an incremental sales lift (in addition to visits).
Google says it has “70 percent coverage” of credit and debit card transactions in the US. This is through data licensing agreements with major credit card companies. All of the data is anonymous and operates only at the aggregate level. Google said this will only be available in the US for the time being.
Those that have customer loyalty and email data can “import store transactions directly into AdWords” and get much more detail about the ad impact on product level sales in stores. This is similar to the Facebook methodology and also involves hashed data matched on the back end. Google stressed that all of this was being done in a privacy-compliant way.
There’s a confluence of technology advancements, data availability and competitive market dynamics driving the imperative to connect digital ads to offline visits and sales. Given the race between Google, Facebook and a range of third parties, the day is coming when almost every digital ad exposure will be trackable to an offline event.