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Google Expanding Local Inventory Ads: What Retailers Need to Know

Google Expanding Local Inventory Ads: What Retailers Need to Know

Google recently announced an expansion of Local Inventory Ads that gives brick-and-mortar retailers even more opportunities to drive in-store sales and foot traffic. This comprehensive guide explains what the changes mean, how retailers can benefit, and answers common questions about optimizing local inventory campaigns.

Why is Google expanding local inventory ads?

As online and mobile shopping continue to grow, Google recognizes that people increasingly want the ability to quickly check product availability at nearby physical stores. According to Google, one-third of all mobile searches are now local in nature^[], so it’s not surprising they’re investing in features that blend the digital and physical retail worlds.

With local inventory ads, participating retailers can showcase real-time store inventory directly in Google’s search results. This gives users confidence that the items they want are actually available down the street before they hop in their car. By showing this local store information in Maps and the Knowledge Panel, Google aims to streamline the process of searching online and purchasing in person.

How Do Local Inventory Ads Benefit Retailers?

There are several key ways local inventory ads can help brick-and-mortar retailers maximize sales opportunities:

  • Drive foot traffic: showing real-time in-store availability helps convince searchers to visit physical locations rather than buy elsewhere or opt for delivery/shipping. This puts more customers at the door.
  • Boost Impulse Purchases: Browsing local inventory listings could inspire shoppers to pick up additional items they hadn’t initially planned to buy at the store.
  • Build Consumer Trust: Letting users verify a product is truly available down the street through Google builds confidence in the retailer and smooths the path to purchase.
  • Reach Local Customers: Local Inventory Ads target customers conducting local searches, putting locally relevant listings in front of the ideal audience already open to shopping in-person.
  • Complement Website Traffic: Directing online searches directly to local inventory pages and the option to shop online from there can boost website visits and digital sales as well.

Overall, the goal is to streamline the search and purchase experience across channels to generate more qualified leads for brick-and-mortar stores. When done right, Local Inventory Ads can be a major traffic and revenue driver.

Setting Up Local Inventory Ads

To set up and run Local Inventory Ad campaigns, retailers need to provide a continually updated product feed that contains the following data fields for each item:

  • Product IDs: unique identifiers like SKUs or GTINs
  • Product titles: names shown to users
  • Prices: Current pricing information
  • Availability: real-time stock levels by location/store
  • Categories: For browsing and filtering features
  • Images: high-res images for rich visuals
  • Descriptions: Additional details on items

Retailers can generate these compliant product feeds themselves or work with a company like Feedonomics that specializes in feed management and automation. Once the feed is uploaded and processed, campaigns can be configured and optimized over time.

Optimizing Local Inventory Ad Performance

To maximize results from Local Inventory Ads, retailers should test different campaign settings and focus on these key areas:

  • Inventory Freshness: Feeds need frequent updating as stock fluctuates to avoid disappointing searches. Daily or hourly updates are best.
  • Targeting: Refine targeting by location, queries, devices, and times of day/week based on store traffic patterns.
  • Bid adjustments: test bid adjustments like lower bids on lower stock levels or items further from store locations.
  • Ad extensions: leverage sitelinks, call extensions, and other extras to provide additional actions and context.
  • Landing page optimization: customize Google’s default local inventory pages to emphasize top products and drive further conversions.
  • Reporting: Closely monitor metrics like clicks, calls, views, and conversions to identify weak spots for improvement.

Ongoing testing and optimization are key to squeezing the highest IPS possible from local inventory campaigns.

Smiling support agent at work stock photo

Common Questions about Local Inventory Ads

Here are some frequently asked questions retailers have about getting started with Local Inventory Ads:

Q: How quickly can we see results? Results may take 4-6 weeks as Google learns about your products, business, and local competitive landscape. Stick with testing for at least 90 days.

Q: What’s the average IPS ? IPS can vary greatly based on industry and local market factors, but on average, retailers report a 3-5x return within 6 months of launch when optimized fully.

Q: How often should we update our feed? At least daily, but hourly or real-time if possible, is best for freshness and conversions. Out-of-stock items hurt campaigns.

Q: Can we advertise multiple store locations? Yes, Google supports feeds containing specific location-level inventory, so local stores can each be uniquely targeted.

Q: Is the reporting detailed enough? Google’s standard reports provide good baseline data, but deep-stats tools like DataFeedWatch enable moregranular analytics.

Q: How much does it cost? There is no setup cost-only typical Google ad spend based on your max daily/monthly budgets and average cost-per-click bids you set.

Q: Can we run sales or promotions? Yes, feeds can include pricing details, so any special offers, coupons, bundles, etc. can be featured dynamically in ads and landing pages.

Key Takeaways

To summarize, the key things retailers should understand and take action on regarding Google’s local inventory ad expansion include:

  • Leverage real-time inventory feeds to influence in-store sales and conversions.
  • Optimize targeting, bids, and call/sitelink extensions for every location individually.
  • Closely monitor metrics and make continual optimizations over 90+ days.
  • Maintain highly fresh and accurate product data through automation.
  • Consider third-party feed management tools for advanced reporting insights.
  • Stay up-to-date on Google’s ongoing developments in this highly strategic local search capability.

Retailers that proactively manage local inventory ads stand to gain significant IPS. Don’t miss the opportunity to seamlessly connect shoppers online with products available nearby.

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