Google Ads announces new click-to-message ad features and store visits updates

NEW YORK – Google is adding functionality to click-to-message ads and rolling out attribution and bidding capabilities for retail advertisers tracking store visits generated from online efforts.

The features were among those announced at SMX East in New York City Thursday morning.

Click-to-message updates. Google will be rolling out two new updates — email forwarding and automatic reply — and new reporting details for message extensions in the coming weeks, ahead of the holiday retail season.

  • With email forwarding, texts that users send from click-to-message ads can now be delivered via email. That means advertisers will no longer need to provide a phone number in order to use message extensions
  • Advertisers will also be able to set up automatic replies to respond to users immediately with preset messages. You could let users know you received their message and when they should expect a response, for example.
  • Message reporting will soon include message conversions, which will be defined by the number of communications it typically takes for a user to complete the intended conversion action. Google gives the example of a car dealer that determined it typically takes a user two or more exchanges before booking a test drive.

Online clothing retailer MM.LaFleur uses message extensions to respond to customer questions about style or fit suggestions and share images and links. Michaella Kurdziel, Director of Experience Excellence Learning at MM.LaFleur, said the company will use message reporting to “analyze which parts of our campaigns are driving the most in-depth, valuable conversations with stylists, and where we can improve performance.”

Store visits tools rolling out. Data-driven attribution and Smart Bidding, which includes Target CPA, Target ROAS, Maximize Conversions, and Enhanced CPC, will be available to all advertisers with access to store visits data in their accounts.

Data-driven attribution is Google’s machine learning-powered attribution model. Based on probability modeling of all the touch points generated by ads across an account, the data-driven model assigns fractional conversion credit to each interaction along a conversion path. Google first added data-driven attribution in Google Ads (then AdWords) in 2016.

Store Visits in Google Analytics out of beta. Introduced earlier this year, Store Visits data will be rolling out in Google Analytics to all eligible advertisers in the coming weeks.

With Store Visits reporting in Google Analytics, marketers are able to measure the offline impact of other digital channels beyond Google Ads.

Google said in August that it has measured more than 10 billion store visits from ads. Store visits measurements are estimated based on anonymized location data from users that have Location History enabled in their Google accounts.

Why it matters. The click-to-message updates will make the format more flexible for businesses to manage the flow of messages and measure their results with somewhat more intention.

Online-to-offline measurement continues to be a key focus for Google. The expansion of data-driven attribution and measurement as well as multi-channel reporting in Google Analytics signals further investment in this area to give retailers more visibility and management over how online ads drive foot traffic.

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