What even are Google Store Visit Conversions?

There was a lot of discussion about Google’s store visit conversions last year – however, marketers can find it difficult to explain some of these online-to offline AdWords features to other parts of their organization. Mediative is here to help with this POV on how Store Visits work. Enjoy!

What is it?

Store Visits are a conversion type in AdWords. It tells you when someone has clicked on a paid search ad, and then crossed a threshold into your location. It’s great for retailers and for event locations as it directly connects search behaviour to your ad programs. Store Visits are based on aggregated, anonymized statistics. AdWords uses current data and past data on the number of people who click your ads and later visit your store.

What will Google tell us?

Google will report on visits to a location if someone clicks on one of their ads and then crosses a threshold (goes inside). AdWords will not tell us which location received a visit, they won’t disclose anything about the particular person who visited and they won’t report on people who did not interact with an ad, but still visited. For privacy reasons, these types of data are unavailable in AdWords. Since this is the case, Mediative recommends you look at store visit trends rather than homing in on individual visits to measure performance.

How can you use this conversion?

This conversion type will help understand when people choose to visit a location after clicking on an ad. For example, someone sees an ad, clicks to call, fill in a form, or another action, and possibly visits the location as well. These conversions could tell you how effective a particular ad was, allowing you to optimize the messaging, or how often people might interact with one of your ads and then come into the location.

Store Visits data can be provided at the city level, however, due to the AdWords restrictions of Store Visits, you cannot report on Store Visits per location.

How does Google know?

Google has done a lot of work to understand geography, and in-store layouts. Google Maps teams have laid a strong groundwork for understanding where stores are, how walkable the location is and the interior layout of the store. They can connect Wi-Fi, cell towers and GPS location signals to their maps to understand a lot already about which stores receive visits. Google also uses an on-going panel to confirm data, so they can actually update their data with discrepancies regularly. About timing: google knows the difference between a 1 minute visit and a thirty-minute visit, along with employees who would spend a long time in a location (they aren’t counted, don’t worry). Finally, users: Google store visits use location history enabled on phones to add to their dataset. All of these different data points – location history, Wi-Fi, cell tower data, map data, GPS and panels to create a statistically significant model of people who interact with ads and then visit a location.

I’m not in a major city, what if my numbers are low?

Sometimes Store Visits conversions will show small numbers, even 1 or 0. This can happen if you over-segment your data, such as filtering by device, or by a small area. It’s good to keep in mind that that number is an average of 1, rather than a direct line of only 1 person clicking and then going to a location.

Store visits are most accurate when numbers are high. That means a result of 100 or higher will more accurately reflect campaign performance.

In conclusion

Store Visits are an important metric for many businesses. It is based on highly accurate, anonymized data and it gives businesses a way of connecting digital activities to the in-person experience. Along with other conversions (e.g. form fills, phone calls) store visits can provide a view of how audiences interact with digital programs.

Julia Vyse
When not in the Adwords UI, Julia can be found in jazz clubs and music festivals listening to music, celebrating music, writing about music and generally enjoying music. Possibly as a result, she is not a morning person.