Last August I was fortunate enough to go to Google HQ in Mountain View for the Google All-Stars Summit. It was an information-packed two-day conference where Google discussed some new industry trends and ideas, ranging from the full value of mobile, to how to produce great content for YouTube, to rethinking measurement in Google Analytics and much more.
The keynotes from Google’s many experts have already been nicely summarized by Rocco Baldassarre from Zebra Advertisement (thanks Rocco!). But there is something missing from his notes, because it was so subtle that even I had to go back and review my own notes before I realized:
Google was telling us that offline is the new online.
You may think that statement is an exaggeration, but today we have concrete evidence regarding Google’s new frontier. Let’s take a brief journey back in time to see how we came to this conclusion.
Adding an “Offline Multiplier”
At Google’s All-Star Summit, Matt Lawson (Director of Performance Marketing at Google) opened the conference with an interesting method for taking Google Analytics & AdWords data and applying an “offline multiplier” to the ROI equation. The idea was that the multiplier would be used to calculate the influence (and monetary value) that online marketing brings to real-world sales. There is no exact math when coming up with the number to use as the multiplier—it’s more of a shared assumption that you and your client can agree upon. The calculation might look something like this:>
The above is part of a larger equation that helps ensure that profits are your main KPI (which we do at Dealer Inspire / Launch Digital Marketing), but the addition of the offline multiplier was such a new idea, especially coming from Google, that I had to jot it down in my Evernote account.
Adding Offline Data to Google Analytics
As the day went on, Adam Singer, Analytics Advocate at Google, showed us how to use Google Analytics to get actionable data, sharing tips on creating custom reports in the Google Analytics Report Gallery, and how to add cost data using the Data API.
Then Jesse Nichols took the stage and talked about bringing all touch points together in a single place (can you guess where?)—including point of sale and customer data using the same Data API—to better enable agencies to make data-driven decisions in marketing, and to help businesses better develop the story of their customer.
Wait… back up… Google wants me to add my customer data into Analytics? Yup. Gone are the days where personally identifiable information ( PII ) is taboo—now we as marketers need to use it to make better decisions. And Google will find it useful too. If they had your offline data, they could help make the “offline multiplier” a more realistic number for each industry category. The traditional reporting model of tracking online actions to offline sales would be flipped and offline sales could be tracked inside of Google Analytics.
Introducing the Store Visits Metric
Just yesterday, at the dawn of 2015 and the peak of the holiday shopping season, Google gave us the Store Visits metric in Google AdWords. To calculate the Store Visits metric, Google grabs location history data from its utility belt. By using your location, Google can connect your clicks on AdWords ads with a store visit. This simple (and awesome) idea allows Google to help validate the role and importance of online activity in real-world sales.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to most—Android allows Google to tag along with us in the real-world, collecting data on where we visit, who we talk to, what we share, and even how many steps we take throughout the day. Google Analytics lets us track (most of) that activity. So combining this with your personalized sales data would seem to be a logical next step.
What This Means For Business Owners
As a brick and mortar business owner, you’ll see how the Store Visits metric will provide more information on how online activity translates into real customers to your establishment. Google still normalizes the data so you don’t know exactly “who” that customer is but you will be able to paint a clearer picture as to what’s going on.
What This Means For Marketers
Having all data points connected and housed inside of Google Analytics is a dream come true for digital marketers. This type of connectivity is still in its infancy, but 2015 will bring big changes in how we collect data. Smart Marketers will use this to make better decisions and increase what really matters to business owners—profits.