While this will be a true multi-channel holiday, the overwhelming number of actual purchases (north of 90 percent) will still be made in stores. Yet those purchases will be highly influenced by PC, tablet and smartphone usage.
More than 80 – 90 percent of online consumers do research before buying offline. This has been documented by several surveys and it makes anecdotal and intuitive sense. Yet most marketers appear to have not fully understood this until recently.
In recognition of this “online-offline” consumer shopping pattern (and especially for Q4) Google is introducing a range of improvements and upgrades to its location targeting capabilities. Among those, Google is launching airport targeting to reach business and leisure travelers. Accordingly, you can simply search for the desired airport and you’ll see a map that looks like this:
There are many reasons to target consumers who travel: they might be your desired audience (i.e., for a travel-specific product or hotel), they might be more appealing from a demographic standpoint or they might be potential customers in your area (residents, business travelers or tourists).
Another improvement, Google will now show location extensions and site links together. This is available for PC/laptop only right now. It’s a way to get a lot more consumer-friendly information into the ad copy. Here’s what it looks like:
Speaking of location extensions, when a user clicks on the address-location extension (on the PC) you’ll now see a larger map with store locations. Below are two screens; the first shows an ad for Radio Shack and then the second indicates the expanded map view after users click the address extension:
Google has also expanded geotargeting and location extensions to many more countries now. In most cases it’s city level targeting.
Google also says that overall location matching for AdWords on the PC has been generally improved as well:
Features such as postal code targeting in the U.S., have enabled us to show closer and more relevant locations to your customers from within your location extensions. At the same time, if you have a specialty or destination business such as a niche boutique or a ski resort, your location extensions can be shown to people who are located nearby, but who aren’t within your business’s postal code — so you also can attract customers who are willing to travel longer distances to visit your business.
Stepping back, Google is doing a range of things to better enable marketers to reach shoppers who are more likely than not to research online but convert offline. Yet these tools are typically underutilized.
Currently very few traditional merchants use location extensions, for example. Marketers really need to experiment with and take advantage of these capabilities. It’s just foolish not to.