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).
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.
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:
They work this way:
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:
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.
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:
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