CPG and Grocery Product Marketers. You are Doing Online Ads Wrong.

By Tad Miller | Sep 13, 2018
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New options for tracking conversions from online ads to actual store visits provide true ROI metrics that go far beyond just impressions and clicks.

I don’t envy consumer package good (CPG) or grocery product marketers when it comes to knowing what to do with online advertising.  Their sales are almost entirely in retail stores or on sites like Amazon and there isn’t exactly a big “Direct To Consumer” market for things like dryer sheets.  So determining the impact of online advertising on sales the way an e-commerce site or lead generation site would do it with e-commerce sales or lead analytics has been difficult.  Usually about the best that could ever be done for finding “off-line” conversion actions is coupon redemption (which historically has only been a 2% redemption rate).

Affiliate Location Extension Products

Brain Lotion. Available at Walmart, Target, CVS and Walmart. Sell it now with Google Ads

The result has been mirroring the “carpet-bombing” tactics of TV advertising with the use of Display Media Buys geared on achieving “Reach”, “Awareness” and “Improved Brand Perception” as the goal.  Which has largely been a blind approach to whether those ads were actually working at delivering sales.  In many cases, ad clicks are viewed as the success metric and not much else.  The tweaking that goes on with that type of advertising typically hinges on the sites where the ads appear, rather than the demographics of who they target and in many cases search advertising is an afterthought that they leave to the retail sellers of those products to do.

The limited conversion tracking options really determined the advertising strategy, so it’s not hard to blame the strategy and tactics.

Join the Store Visit Revolution

I’m not aware of any other ad channel that can do this, but Google Ads has had a feature called “Affiliate Location Extensions” for a while now. Its introduction hasn’t exactly been hailed with a lot of fanfare.  In fact, many experienced search marketers don’t even realize they exist, because they have never had anyone need to use them.  That’s because CPG and Grocery products have ignored search advertising for years and did display ads through programmatic exchanges and not Google Ads.

Google describes Affiliate Location Extensions by saying:

Affiliate Location Extensions

They work this way:


How Affiliate Location Extensions Work

So if they click on my Affiliate Location Extension on my Dryer Sheet Ad, I can see if they go to the store to buy them.

The gist of this is that you can now do Google search and display ads on CPG or grocery items and see when people click on the location extension on your ad and show up at the the major retail store where you sell those products.  This is more data than these marketers have ever had to process in the past, and it’s the closest they will ever get to being able to correlate an ad click with a potential product sale to any amount of scale.

Store Visits open up all kinds of possibilities in improving your online marketing:

What Major Retailers Can You Track Store Visits To?

In the US, there are currently 280 major retailers.  They include big box stores like Walmart, Target and Costco; grocery stores like Kroger, Albertsons or Whole Foods; and department stores like Macy’s, Nordstroms and Stein Mart.  You can also add pharmacies, sporting goods stores, auto parts stores and convenience store chains.  If it’s a major retailer like a Best Buy and a few surprises like Adam and Eve you can track store visits to them with the help of Google Ads.

Affiliate Location Extension Retailer List

Selling a spatula available at Bed, Bath & Beyond? You should try Google Ads with Affiliate Location Extensions

How You Can Change Your CPG Online Ad Strategy With Affiliate Store Visits

If you are grasping the importance of the store visit metric and the possibilities it holds for transforming your CPG online ad spend then it’s likely time to make a shift in strategy.  This change in mindset should include:

  • Optimizing for what drives Store Visits over just delivering ad impression metrics via media buy
  • Utilizing Google Ads as your ad platform and its Affiliate Location Extension features instead of some programmatic ad exchange
  • Bringing in someone to manage your accounts on a daily basis so that you can maximize Store Visits and get as many as possible for your ad budget vs. buying the impressions and viewing the ad delivery reports after the month ends and then deciding on what sites to buy on again in the future.
  • Start working with the demographics of Google users (Age, Gender, Parental Status, Search Interests, location, average household income of location, etc.) vs. working with site placements where you want to buy impressions
  • Stop using your website to just be an online brochure that conveys the “brand experience” you are interested in portraying and start realizing that your website can be a mechanism to drive actual product sales (Not everyone will click the ad extension, you need to also optimize the site for delivering store visitors too)
  • Start focusing on mobile as the mechanism that will drive the store visit (location extensions are most effective at driving store visits on smartphones) vs. the site where the display ads show as the way to get your product in-front of the eyes you want to see your ads

Affiliate Location Extension Example

Pizza is just a click and a short drive away.


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