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Google Assistant Gives Local Merchants An (Inventory) Leg Up

Just in time for the upcoming holiday shopping season, Google is launching new shopping features and reporting capabilities for local merchants.

According to news from Search Engine Land, retailers with brick-and-mortar locations will have more ways to drive and measure store visits from Google properties.

Kishore Kanakamedala, director of product management for online-to-offline solutions, said that mobile is “now the anchor of the customer journey,” revealing Google research that shows mobile ads generate 160 percent more incremental store visits compared to desktop and tablet. In addition, local ad efforts – such as local inventory ads – drive an 80 percent higher rate of incremental store visits.

One of the new features will tie local inventory data into Google Assistant results. For example, if a user asks her phone or Google Home, “Where can I buy _____ nearby?,” Google will show a list of available items in her area. In order to be included in the search results, retailers must upload their local inventory feeds to the Google Merchant Center.

The search engine is also adding a local inventory display ad format that will include promotions and local products from a retailer’s inventory feeds. There will also be reporting for impression-based store visits, giving merchants the ability to measure store visits without an ad click.

Google is also introducing three new reports to AdWords for store visits. They include a time lag report, which shows the time between an ad click and a store visit; a demographic report, where users can add store visits as a column to existing demographic reports; and a new vs. returning customer report, which will show how many store visits come from repeat customers.

“Together with the time lag report, this can help you gauge how your ads drive incremental visits,” Kanakamedala said.

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