Drive Your Clicks In-Store With Local Inventory Ads

Local inventory ads are a new version of a product listing ad. As well as the price, title, and image, these ads will also display a store marker. This new information is pulled from an in-store inventory feed, making these ads perfect for businesses with physical stores. Especially if you sell a product that your customer will want to see before they buy.

If a user is within a certain distance from a store, a local ad will be shown over a standard product listing ad.

local-inventory-ad

Currently, if a user clicks on a local inventory ad, they are taken to a Google-hosted merchant page instead of the product-specific page of the website. This page will contain the product information and also a map of the nearest store where the product is in stock. From here, users have a few options: navigate to the main site to buy online, change store location, or get directions to the store.

This new ad type is the perfect way to reach users while they are moving from online search to an offline purchase. Being present in this space helps to drive that click to your store. In the U.K., 88 percent of transactions still happen in-store, despite more and more people doing their research online first. Even with this knowledge, it can be difficult for us to focus our attention in-store marketing activities, as the online space is much easier to track and optimize.

Setting Up From the Back End

Running local inventory ads isn’t as simple as product listing ads, as our usual merchant feed is accompanied by three more:

  1. Merchant Feed – you will have this already if you are running shopping.
  2. Google Places – your Google places account will need to be managed via bulk upload. Every store needs a “Store id” assigned to it.
  3. Local Products – a list of all your products that are in-store.
  4. Product Inventory – includes in0store availability and price.

These will need to be uploaded to the merchant center. Google will use the store ids and each product’s unique identifier (Itemid or webitemid) to link the feeds. Each feed has its own policy, as expected. The merchant feed should be uploaded a minimum of every 30 days (although most retailers will do this more often), the local products feed at least once a week, and product inventory at least once a day.

Setting Up From the Front End

You can either combine local with your current shopping campaigns or create a local-only campaign. There are benefits to both, however, I tend to prefer the functionality of local-only. The intention of these campaigns is drive to store; they are likely to drive very different results to normal shopping campaigns. Keeping them separate allows them to be optimized more easily based on this.

Within the campaign settings of Shopping campaigns there is a new section called “shopping channel.” Here you can select whether you want your campaign to target products from online, in-store, or both. Apart from that, the interface is identical to shopping campaigns.

local-settings

Are they worth setting up?

If your business or client has a physical store, then these ads are a great addition to any marketing campaign. It simplifies the purchase journey of users, which will always help minimize drop-offs. Despite improvements in tracking offline conversion, this is not likely to ever be 100 percent. With this in mind, the performance won’t match that of shopping campaigns and so it can be difficult to assign budget and time into management. Unfortunately, there isn’t an easier answer to this.

Although the behavior of consumers is changing, the majority of shoppers do still buy in-store. The product is still very new and I expect to see the new features that launch over the next few quarters, which should help us measuring the impact of these campaigns at our in-store tills.

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