Tips for Local Inventory Ads

How multichannel retailers can use LIAs to efficiently drive in-store traffic

Consumers today expect relevant information from retailers to make shopping decisions and purchases while using different devices at different touchpoints in the journey for different purposes. A perfect mix of people, place, and media, local inventory ads (LIA) help provide a seamless shopping experience with just the right information at the right time to the right audience. LIA are the key to omni-channel success and help retailers leverage the power of digital advertising to drive quality shoppers into their brick-and-mortar stores. Moreover, they help connect the dots along your customer’s purchase journey and allow you to engage with them consistently. Here’s an overview of the LIA program:

Requirements:

LIA have been around for some time now, but have only been open to select merchants and retailers who have:

  • An online product feed
  • A Google Places/My Business account with their store information
  • Physical stores located in one of the supported countries
  • Opted in for the program — reach out to your rep if you aren’t

It’s one of the most interesting features that Google introduced in the recent past. It lets users know about the stock availability of a product with a precise store location along with directions, contact information, and access to retailers’ other products in the catalogue.

Feed Management:

If you are a retailer and already run Shopping Campaigns/PLA with a data feed, then you are just a couple of steps away from launching LIA. See the requirements below for running both PLA and LIA programs:

Product Listing Ads (PLA/Shopping Campaigns)/Online Data Components:

  • Product inventory feed (inclusive of price and inventory) with products that are sold online — you should already have this if you are running Shopping campaigns.

Local Inventory Ads (LIA) / In Store Data Components (2 separate feeds):

  • Local products feed – for in-store only products
  • Local price and inventory feed (inclusive of store code)   
    • Connect your Google My Business information to Merchant Center

Note that you can also link your local products to your online products and use the product info from the online feed if there is a significant overlap of the products. There are four ways to achieve this — by linking itemID, unique product identifiers (e.g., GTIN, Brand, MPN), WebItemID and submitting a separate feed for Local only products which aren't sold online or exist in the online product feed.

Upload Frequency:

Data Type

Upload Frequency

PLA/Online Feed

At least once every 30 days.

LIA Products Feed

At least once a week.

LIA Product Inventory Feed

At least once a day.

Components — PLA v/s LIA:

Most components of LIA look like a PLA/Shopping ad — title, price, URL — but in addition to that, there is also a location pin and an in-store indicator. It functions in two different ways — if a user clicks on the picture or the URL, then he will be directed to the retailer’s website. If the user clicks on the in-store highlight, then he is brought to a local storefront that is powered by Google, and presents the user with the address to the nearest store, phone number for that store, and a link to buy the product online. Additionally, it provides full product details and other items that are available from that retailer.

Different types of ads — desktop vs. mobile:

Desktop

There are three types of Shopping/PLA ads that could appear on desktop:

  1. Multichannel PLA: Displays online and in-store products and directs the click to either online or local storefront (via in-store link)
  2. Online PLA: Displays online products and directs the click to the online store
  3. Local Inventory Ad: Displays in-store products and directs the click to the local storefront
An example of what desktop LIAs look like

Mobile

This has a similar experience like desktop, but there are two types of Shopping/PLA ads that could appear on mobile:

  1. Online PLA: Displays online products and directs click to the online store
  2. Local Inventory Ad: Displays in-store products and directs the click to the local storefront
An example of what desktop LIAs look like

Efficiency:

Listed below are some of the most important techniques which will not only allow you to manage your spend efficiently, but will also help you to provide the best possible user experience:

Bid by hour:

By default, your AdWords Campaigns are set to “show ads all days and hours,” which means that your ads are eligible to appear in all auctions throughout all days of the week and all hours of the day. Since LIA are used as a tool to increase foot traffic, advertising LIA ads based on business days/hours of the stores would help provide the most accurate information to the user along with displaying PLA ads during non-business hours.

Bid by weather:

Depending on the location of the stores and weather conditions, this feature could be a smart way to bid on your product inventory and be efficient with your budget. Weather isn’t always good in all areas of the country and there are conditions that make it impossible for a user to reach to the store. Snow storm and heavy rains are good examples of weather conditions when presenting a PLA ad would provide a better user experience (since the intent of the user would probably be to buy products online) than an LIA ad and vice versa with sunny weather, which will prompt the user to visit the nearest store and make a purchase. You can use bid modifiers and set up bid rules based on store locations and weather conditions. Implementation of the bid by weather script is similar to any other text campaign and you can follow the detailed instructions provided by the Google Developer resources.

Bid by important dates:

Every retailer / ecommerce business works with important dates in their calendar, which deal with shipping cut-off dates (regular/free/expedited). With LIA, you can go further than that once these dates are passed. For instance, there are often last-minute shoppers — just a few days before Christmas looking on their phones for where to buy the products in a physical store (since the product can’t be delivered on time after the date has passed). LIA gives you the opportunity to extend the shopping window (especially during holidays) focusing more on foot traffic on those crucial days. And with the user intent on visiting the closest store, it would make sense to spend/bid lower on your online products and higher on LIA, giving users just the right products and information at their fingertips.

The digital impact on in-store shopping and purchases is already happening and accelerating at a rapid pace. For multichannel retailers who recognize a large percentage of retail still occurs in stores, this is a great opportunity to bridge the gap and bring together the power and measurability of digital advertising with in-store purchases. Attribution for cross-device conversions and connecting digital interactions at every touchpoint, including in-store visits, purchases, and conversion rates, is a universal challenge. As the industry evolves, we expect more tools to be available in the market to measure the overall success of the program. 

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