The internet has made everything global. With a computer and an internet connection, we can now search for information from and about anywhere in the world, communicate with and sell to people on the other side of the planet, and cross geographical, language and cultural barriers at the click of a button. In recent years, however, business have been trying to understand how they can use the internet to appeal to people in local areas; how can information be tailored to suit the local internet user. Shoppers want to know specifically about what is around them and where they can find what they want in their immediate vicinity, and since smartphone ownership became the norm the requirement for localised information has only grown.

This is well demonstrated by the increasing popularity of services such as Yext. This cloud-based system manages local data for companies, allowing them to update the details of each of their stores (location and contact details, etc.) in one central dashboard, which is then automatically updated in more than 50 directories including Google, Yelp and Apple Siri. This allows consumers to reach accurate, up to date information through whichever method they choose, and is also beneficial for page rankings on the Google search engine results page. Yext has raised over $100m in funds since its launch in 2006, and will be joining the stock market next month.

Local online retailing

In response to the growing need for local information, Google’s Local Inventory Ads (LIAs) have become an integral ad format for many retailers. Having been around since 2015, with a fairly slow rollout, they have become part and parcel of many retailers’ core strategy, and for good reason. LIAs show shoppers local in-store product availability for items they search for on Google. Using location information, retailers can show consumers in the vicinity of their store prices and stock levels of the product they want to buy, in an attempt to bring them instore to complete the purchase.

Do Google’s LIAs work?

Over Christmas 2016, one of Summit’s clients saw 30% of its sales, and 26% of its Shopping revenue come through LIAs as opposed to PLAs (product listing ads), for only 24% of the overall cost. This makes the LIAs both more efficient and more profitable. This is an objective which all retailers should be working towards, especially if they have the brick and mortar stores and stock to take advantage.

Local strategy can of course vary greatly depending on the product being sold, and the success of one campaign on local does not guarantee the success of another. Fridges, beds, and other large pieces of furniture should be looked at differently to smaller, less considered purchases such as kettles, electric shavers and DVDs to name but a few.

It’s these smaller items which are driving a lot of revenue through LIAs on Google. Customers are, in many instances, able to order a product online while on their way, or even already in, the store they wish to purchase it from. This cuts out personal interaction with staff, and in many cases, queuing at a checkout. The assurance of a product being in stock is also very useful when heading out on a trip for a specific product.

‘Near me’ searches

‘Near me’ searches have also had a steep increase in popularity recently, even more so than was reported on in our last blog about LIAs. One Summit client has seen a 3077% increase in impressions, and a 3850% increase in clicks on ‘near me’ searches between peak 2015 and peak 2016. A rise in clicks will also lead to a rise in cost, however the cost increase seems to have been minimum compared to the click increase. The cost of sale observed in this time sees a consistent trend of LIAs outperforming PLAs, with the COS at least 1% lower (if not more) each week.

Click through rate for the same client also increased by 25%, no doubt in part to the roll out of LIAs across their accounts between peak 2015 and peak 2016. The LIAs have allowed consumers to see that the product they want is in stock in their local store. This not only leading to more clicks, but most likely more conversions, especially on a click and collect level. After rolling out LIAs across all their accounts, this client saw a 25% increase in click and collect sales.

Facebook and local advertising

Facebook has recently taken a step in the direction of Google, and although only in alpha testing stage, is looking to release a very similar product for Facebook advertisers called Dynamic Ads for Retail. Using Estimated Store Visits (ESV) – Facebook’s offline/online tracking solution – retailers can measure store visits at multiple locations using smartphone location services or Facebook polls to determine when users have visited a store. This enables retailers to retarget customers with ads when they are near to a store, only showing relevant products that are available and in stock at that point in time.


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