“Store Visits” Metric in Google AdWords Measures Offline Conversions

What is the impact of your search ads on in-store traffic?

It’s a puzzle physical businesses have been trying to solve for years and one Google hopes to answer with its new “Store Visits” metric in AdWords.

Store Visits, an enhancement to AdWords Estimated Total Conversions, are estimates based on aggregated, anonymized data from a sample set of users who have enabled Location History on their device. The data is then extrapolated to represent a larger population.

E-commerce is a massive industry and continues to grow as a percentage of all retail sales, yet most transactions still take place in retail stores. Store Visits can help marketers better understand the impact their search ads have on driving foot traffic to their retail locations. It’s transformative in that it tells advertisers that their online ads are driving more ROI than people think.

Simply knowing where your sales came from doesn’t give you more sales, but utilizing that knowledge to optimize your overall ad spend enables you to put more ad budget into what’s actually working.

How Does Store Visits in AdWords Work?

As an enhancement to Estimated Total Conversions (ETCs), Store Visits requires no additional setup – if you’re eligible, you’ll see conversions from store visits in the ETC columns in your campaign reports. Store visits are available only at the campaign level and can be segmented by device.

First, you’ll have to make sure you have conversion tracking set up. If you’re not sure how to do that, this video from Google explains it:

If you want to see store visits separate from other conversion data, you can do so by visiting Campaigns > Segment > Conversions > Conversion name in your AdWords account. Or, add a custom column (Campaigns > Columns > Customize columns > Custom columns > +Column) so you can see store visits without having to segment them out each time.

It’s important to understand that what you’re seeing is an estimate, though, and is not an exact measurement of the traffic to your store as a result of your ads. Google never provides specific user locations to advertisers – that would be a big no-no. Instead, they measure store visits based on the proximity to your store of users who have Location History enabled on their Apple and Android devices. Search ad clicks from all campaign types and across all devices are considered, within 30 days of the store visit.

What you can see is which campaigns and devices drive the most visits to your physical business, based on Google’s analysis of the data available to them. This information can help drive your ad creative and bid strategies.

In order to be eligible to measure store visit conversions you need to:

  • Have a Google My Business account linked to your AdWords account
  • Set up location extensions in your Google My Business account
  • Have multiple physical store locations in the U.S.
  • Receive a large number of both ad clicks and store visits

How Can You Use Store Visits?

It’s still early days, but Google shared Office Depot’s experience with store visits insights, in their December blog post announcing the feature.


Office Depot and Office Max (recently merged into one company) have about 2,000 retail locations in the United States. According to Google, they use store visit insights from AdWords ETC to understand which products are driving people to physically visit one of their locations.

They use these insights to decide which products to feature in their local inventory ads, which tell searchers whether or not a specific product is available in a nearby store (and where that store is located).

Why Do Store Visits Matter in AdWords?

Figuring out the exact impact of our online marketing activities on offline purchases is pretty much the Holy Grail in advertising today. Store visits in ETC won’t tell you, “These 200 people clicked on this ad, visited your store and bought this product,” – but this is a good step toward greater accountability for advertisers driving traffic to their physical locations.

Today, the average CPCs for mobile remain about 33 percent lower than CPCs for desktop and a great deal of that has to do with a perception that mobile clicks are worth less than desktop. This perception is propagated by the inherent difficulties of measuring ROI of mobile. However, it’s only a matter of time before more and more retailers figure out the opposite is true for many verticals.

Are store visits appearing in your Google AdWords account yet? Give these new features a try as they’re available and see how they can better inform your PPC strategy!

Homepage image via Google.

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