GeoMarketing 101: What Is In-Store Attribution?

Marketers want to know that an ad made consumers do more than click — they want to know if it made them visit a store.

From geo-targeting to beacons, location-based technology is opening up a world of possibilities for marketers — but it’s also complicated, as new capabilities and use cases seem to emerge every day.

With the goal of breaking down some of the most important “geo” concepts to provide a better understanding of the basics — and a jumping off point for exploring how far the power of location may take us — we introduce the next installment of our GeoMarketing 101 series: understanding in-store attribution.

What Is In-Store Attribution?

In-store attribution is the process of understanding which consumers actually made a visit to a physical location as a result of seeing an ad. “Attributing” such visits to ad campaigns the person has seen helps marketers to understand the effectiveness of their messages; it’s one thing for a person to look at or click on a mobile ad, but another for it to actually motivate them to go to a store and possibly make a purchase.

Essentially, it’s about measuring ad effectiveness based on location visits, not just on click-through rates (CTR.)

But it’s a bit tricky to tie mobile ad views to real-world actions, and “closing the loop” around online and offline behavior has been a longtime challenge for marketers in the mobile era. But various companies are now working to develop increasingly effective tactics for proving that mobile ads drove (or didn’t drive) particular store visits.

How Does It Work?

It’s all about location sharing. Consumers who visit particular locations and then share their (mobile) location data with measurement platforms are the key to proving in-store attribution.

Some players use a combination of WiFi, GPS, and specialized store maps to track visits within or to a store — such as is the case with Google in-store conversions, which enables marketers to measure how many shoppers visit a store after seeing a search ad. Since today’s consumers have their mobile devices with them at almost every point, it’s easy to map patterns this way though mobile location sharing.

Store visitation analytics platform Placed, a long-time attribution pioneer, is continuing to rack up partners on the buy side and the sell side, building up the scale of its first-party geo-data as 2.3 million active app users share their location information on a daily basis.

Placed CEO David Shim says the Seattle company now measures 1 in 100 adults in the U.S., who share over 2 billion first-party locations every day. This vast amount of location sharing is what enables the company to understand movement patterns of customers who have been targeted with particular ads — and it has now tied in-store attribution back to out-of-home advertising as well.

In this vein, in February, Foursquare expanded its ad analytics with online-to-offline attribution, sharing daily location insights on a panel of 1.3 million users with Flipboard, Drawbridge, TGIFridays, Adelphic, and Brown-Forman.

Essentially, with these parties — and others, including Facebook, PlaceIQ, and more — exploring mobile location sharing as it relates to online-to-offline attribution, the potential for brick-and-mortar businesses to understand how effective their ads are at driving visits and purchases is better than ever.

To learn more about how these different companies approach in-store attribution, check out the links below.

PlaceIQ Ups The Ante In Online-To-Offline Attribution Race


Placed Connects In-Store Attribution To Out-Of-Home


Foursquare Expands Ad Analytics With Online-to-Offline Attribution


About The Author
Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.