Google to Bolster Sales Measurement of Search Ads

Aims to show how AdWords affects all digital conversions

Google wants to better demonstrate how its AdWords search promos drive sales on desktops and mobile devices.

With its new metric called cross-device conversions, Google is aiming to connect the dots between consumers searching for a product on their smartphone, clicking on an ad, then purchasing an item from the advertiser later via their desktop—or vice-versa, starting with a desktop search and ending with a mobile purchase. Tablet users will also be a part of the conversions data.

This measurement is based on users that are logged into Google, said Sridhar Ramaswamy, senior vp of ads and commerce for the search engine. His team extrapolates that sample to arrive at the total estimated sales impact of a brand's search ads across Google's larger user base.

After beta testing, the conversions stat will begin rolling out for all Google AdWords marketers today, Ramaswamy said. Ultimately, Google plans to come up with a larger data set called estimated total conversions.

In the coming months, Google plans to roll out stats that could help marketers measure the impact of search ads on in-store visits and phone sales. The store visits will be recorded through Google's location extensions, which have been available to advertisers for quite some time (though visits can only be collected when users have opted in to share their location with Google). In the case of phone sales, they'll be tallied from Google users who use the click-to-call feature in search ads.

"It begins to link online and offline behavior together in aggregate," Ramaswamy said. "We've been able to show that in some sectors, on average, 7 percent more conversions as a result of cross-device activity than what we believed before."

Google says the data will be processed in aggregate, protecting users' individual identities.

The company also is planning to develop offline conversion data for the platform's display ad products, Ramaswamy said.