Google Wants to Prove Ad Clicks Make for In-Store Purchases

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Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) is the undeniable king of online and mobile advertising, and the company wants to extend its ad domination by proving the effectiveness of advertising online to brick and mortar retailers. It’s enlisting data companies like Acxiom (NASDAQ:ACXM) in order to do so, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.

The report cites anonymous sources saying that Google is working on a pilot program that matches data on physical purchases from a retailer’s computer system to cookies tracking whether or not a consumer has clicked on a banner ad online. If the data matches up, it can prove that someone who clicked on an ad was interested enough to go make a purchase in a physical store, which is highly valuable information for Google to show to potential advertisers.

While it can be easy to track when people click on ads, their behavior in a store is much more difficult to monitor. Advertisers are still spending more money to show commercials on television than they are to place ads online, because after a user clicks on an ad it’s difficult to tell if they ever journey to a physical store and make a purchase. This makes companies more cautious about pouring tons of money into online ad campaigns, particularly for brick and mortar retailers.

Companies like Acxiom are trying to change that by striving to reach what advertising executives refer to as ‘the Holy Grail’ of online advertising — matching the consumer who clicked on an ad to a consumer who went to the store and made a purchase. According to an article on the company from The Wall Street Journal, Acxiom created a strategy in which it takes a group of consumers an advertiser is looking to target, shows most of the group the online ads but leaves out a control group, then compares who goes to the store and makes a purchase — the people who saw the ads or the people that didn’t.

The results of Acxiom’s research were published in a paper in March. After studying 50 companies that use online banner ads over the course of two years, Acxiom found that online ads drove $9 out of every dollar spent, and most of that money was spent in physical stores.

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