Google expanded the capability of its “store visits” insights tool in an effort to help businesses understand the connection between digital advertising and in-store purchases. It’s estimated that three out of five U.S. consumers made their last purchase in a physical store, but as marketing dollars are continually going toward online pursuits, this helps to blend the data-gathering capabilities of the Web with real-world results.
Google’s store visits tool measures how search ads bring customers into stores by measuring store visits after a user clicked on an ad within a certain time frame. Today’s new feature offers a more detailed view by allowing Google AdWords users to track not only which ads drove in-store visits, but which key words resulted in in-store visits, and the ability to view store visits by day, week or month.
Google’s store visits tool was released last year. It gathers this information by tracking aggregated, anonymous Google users and those who have location history activated on their mobile devices. The service is free for Google AdWords users, but is limited to business owners that are over a certain threshold of visits due to privacy restrictions.
Google’s store visits tool is also able to show, after a Google user searches for a particular store (for example, “Best Buy in Sunnyvale”) what times of day are most popular for store visits on that day. By looking at traffic patterns, Google was able to observe and predict key shopping days and times for this holiday shopping season, also shared today.
Google researchers found that Black Friday store traffic peaks in the afternoon for most stores between 2 and 4 p.m., and saw an increase in department store foot traffic on Thanksgiving Day between 6 and 7 p.m.
While Black Friday was a busy shopping day for electronics and cell phone stores, Google found that for malls, superstores and department stores, the highest store traffic was on the Saturday before Christmas (although dollar stores had the most traffic on Christmas Eve).