Google’s local inventory ads offer retailers the potential to direct search-traffic back to their local bricks-and-mortar stores. When internet searchers query the popular search engine for specific products, local inventory ads appear alongside online shopping ads. Searchers then have the choice to shop online or be directed to local retailers featuring the desired products.
What could be more useful than that?
Though local inventory ads as a form of promotion are new, retailers are already reporting positive results. Sears stores, for instance, reported a 16 percent higher click-through rate on local ads, and an impressive 122 percent increase in local store visits after running the ads. Other retailers, including Sprint, have reported positive results.
These ads reflect Google’s continued quest to serve shoppers who prefer using their mobile phones to locate products. These shoppers may search the internet about a product, and if they're out and about, easily drive to a local store to see it in person and buy it.
The new Google local inventory ads offer retailers unprecedented opportunities to directly appeal to consumers at a powerful moment in the shopping cycle: the moment when someone is actively seeking a product.
How to get started in local inventory
To start your own local inventory campaign, you’ll first need to ensure that your business complies with Google’s advertising policies, especially as they relate to your ad category. The basic gist is that your advertising campaign must comply with both Google AdWords and Google Merchant Center policies, since you’ll need both types of accounts approved and ready to link together before running a local inventory campaign.
Most business owners are familiar at least in passing with Google AdWords, the company’s pay-per-click advertising platform that lets businesses bid on keyword phrases and displays ads based on budget parameters set in advance. Google Merchant Center then lets you upload your products directly to Google so that they become part of its display network.
Once both accounts are set up and ready to go, you’ll then link them together to run a local inventory campaign. The ads run off of Google AdWords, and the inventory off of its Merchant Center.
When you set up a Shopping campaign, you’ll be able to choose from among three categories of ads:
- Local inventory
Each category leads customers to a different destination if they click on the ad. Local inventory ads lead to an ad for a local storefront; shopping ads lead to your website; and multichannel ads can lead to local storefronts for anyone clicking on the “local” link in the ads, or to your website for those clicking the general link.
Multichannel ads enable customers to self-direct their path to either a local shopping destination or a general online shopping experience.
Your Google ad representative can help you put your logo into the system, check the inventory and data feeds that you set up during the process and help make sure your ad is ready for launch.
Should you try Google Local Inventory ads?
It’s all well and good for big brands like Sears, Spring and Office Depot to test local inventory ads. But should your business try Google local inventory ads too? The answer depends on several factors:
- Do you have a strong local presence in addition to an online shopping site? You’ll need both, to benefit from local inventory ads.
- Is your storefront located in an area that can attract local shoppers to visit in person? A store in New York City or Chicago is going to get more visits than one in a small Nebraska town, simply because there are more people per square mile searching for products online. Make sure your sales estimates justify the ad expense.
- Do you have the expertise to run an effective campaign (or are you willing to hire someone?) You can certainly run a Google Local Inventory ad campaign yourself, but you’ll need to devote the time and resources to learning the system, setting up both your AdWords and Merchant accounts so that they can sync up and work for Local Inventory, run your ads, measure the responses, etc. Business owners may find they don’t have the time, in which case hiring someone to run their ad campaigns may be a smart move.
For retailers with both local storefronts and a strong online presence, Google’s local inventory ads offer unprecedented targeting and reach. Never before have advertisers had the power to reach customers at precisely their moment of decision with local search, thanks to Google’s continued commitment to finding new ways to help advertisers refine and target consumers.