Google is set to expand its store visits program to thousands more advertisers

Improved measurement techniques and machine learning-powered modeling have helped Google track more than 4 billion store visits from ads.

Google has been ramping its efforts to tie clicks on ads to store traffic for several years now. On Wednesday, the search giant said it has tracked over four billion store visits as the result of ad clicks, up from one billion a little less than a year ago.

Google extended the now two-year old store visits measurement program to ads on the Display Network in September 2016 and said it had statistically significant visibility into visits to 200 million stores globally. The company says it is now set to make store visits data available to thousands more advertisers due to advancements in several components of its measurement capabilities.

Google measures store visits based on aggregated and anonymized data from users who opt into Location History tracking on their phones, Google surveys and mapping efforts.

The company says it shifted to using deep learning models that can train on larger data sets to increase accuracy in prioritizing location signals. “This allows us to reliably measure more store visits in contexts that are typically tricky, such as in multi-story malls and dense geographies where many business locations are situated close to each other,” wrote Kishore Kanakamedala, director of product management for online-to-offline solutions.

Recent mapping improvements include a refresh of Google Earth and Google Street View images to get up-to-date views of where buildings begin and end, and an expanded effort to scan WiFi strength in more buildings to determine business boundaries.

Google also surveys some users directly to verify the locations they’ve visited and reconcile the results against its predictions to keep training the models. The company also deploys teams to conduct in-person audits and visits in areas with high store density to provide more location data.

For more background on how Google captures store visits data, see Under The Hood: How Google AdWords Measures Store Visits and Google’s Surojit Chatterjee: Here’s Why You Should Trust AdWords Estimated Store Visits.

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