Google Testing In-Store Conversions Tied to AdWords Ads

shoppingcartAdWords advertisers and brick-and-mortar business owners may be on the verge of something very exciting. Looks like Google is testing a way to effectively bridge the gap between online activity and in-store purchases.

Google launched a pilot program dubbed "In-Store Attribution Transaction Reporting in AdWords" with six advertisers to "match the anonymous tracking cookies on users' computers to in-store sales information collected by data providers like Acxiom Corp. and DataLogix Holdings Inc.", according to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

However, according to the WSJ, "Acxiom and Epsilon declined to comment on whether they are involved in the Google test, but executives at those firms confirmed that they are working with other companies on linking online ads to in-store sales."

Back in February, a Google representative at Covario's INFLECTIONPoint 2014 suggested this was coming. From the write up of one of the sessions:

But there’s still a ways to go when it comes to measuring the value of certain actions. In-store purchases are one conversion point that Burke said Google is working hard towards finding ways to attribute which actions drove that purchase, and, he said, they’ve started experimenting with Web history and geolocation to begin to get an understanding of that.

The WSJ reported that according to people who are familiar with the pilot, data collection will work something like this:

  • A user clicks on an ad, Google sends an anonymous "click ID" to the advertiser. The advertiser then "likely has a cookie on the user's computer," and matches that cookie to the click ID.
  • Days or weeks later, that user may buy a product in the retailer's store. 
  • The data company that's used to track the info plus the retailer can take that purchase and link it back to the user's cookie. The cookie is linked to Google's click ID.

"Ultimately, Google can tell advertisers which ads generated in-store sales and how much they generated," WSJ said its sources reported. "The Google spokesman said the company designed the test so that Google never knows the identity of the user," the report added. 

With that, reports stated the pilot will add a new column in AdWords reports that shows in-store conversions as a result of ads. 

About the author

Jessica Lee is a marketer specializing in web content strategy and B2B/B2C writing. Since 2005, Jessica has been in the business of content and communications, with the past several years focused on the web marketing space.

Prior to launching her consulting business, bizbuzzcontent, Jessica was responsible for content strategy, development and marketing for Bruce Clay Inc. – a global SEO firm, where she served small businesses and Fortune 500 clients. Jessica's background also includes positions in traditional marketing, communications, broadcasting and publishing.

Jessica has a bachelor's in communications and public relations from San Diego State University. She also contributed to the book “Search Engine Optimization All-in-One For Dummies” 2nd edition.