Local Inventory Ad Formats for Multichannel Retailers

By — 06.19.15

Inventory Scanner

Did you know that half of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a store within a day, and that local searches lead to more purchases than non-local searches? With more than 90% of retail sales still occurring in brick-and-mortar stores, it’s easy to see how Local Inventory Ads (LIAs) can be beneficial for retailers with physical store locations.

Local Inventory Ads (LIAs), formerly named Local Product Listing Ads (PLAs), were created by Google to make a retailer’s local stores and inventory accessible to people shopping online. This ad type displays local inventory information to a retailer’s Google PLAs and Shopping Results. Their purpose is to enable visitors to quickly identify stores nearby which carry in stock the product they are searching for.

One area that causes a lot of confusion for retailers are the various ad formats which collectively fall under the LIA umbrella. When we refer to LIAs, we are speaking about both LIAs AND Multichannel PLAs, which are rooted in local product data.

What are the available formats for Local Inventory Ads?

LIAs are available on both desktop/tablet and mobile. There are two high level LIA formats, including multichannel ad formats, but keep in mind that multichannel will not show on mobile. For products that are only available online, standard PLAs will show. For items that are available both online and in stores, or only in stores, the following ad variations will be available:

1. Local Inventory Ad – this format shows only products sold in stores and will direct all traffic to a Google Local Storefront.

Local Inventory Ad

As these ads are primarily served on mobile devices, the majority of traffic will go to mobile. Many advertisers will see traffic for this ad type on desktop and tablet, although it is typically a minimal amount. This occurs in the following circumstances:

Products that are only available in stores
If your local feed has an item which is only available in-store, Google will display this ad format so all traffic is directed to the storefront.

LIA bids are higher than PLA bids
If your LIA bid was higher than your desktop PLA bid. Some retailers prefer their LIA ad format to show over their standard PLA ad format in order to force traffic to the storefront. After testing LIAs vs standard desktop PLAs, retailers may find that LIAs perform better for certain items in-store and prefer to send traffic to LIAs.

Below is an illustration of the desktop LIA ad format. Notice how the “In store” text is greyed out sending all traffic to the storefront.

Desktop LIA ad format

2. Multichannel PLA – this format will show for both online and in-store products.

Where will traffic be directed? If a shopper clicks on the map “in store” icon, it will direct the shopper to a local storefront. The data for this can be found in AdWords under Product Listing Ad – MultiChannel Local. If a shopper clicks on the product title, he or she will be directed to the retailer’s website. The data for this can be found in AdWords under Product Listing Ad – MultiChannel Online.

The image below shows an example of a Multichannel PLA, with an example of this ad type highlighted in blue.

LIAs and Multichannel PLAs only show when a shopper is within driving distance of a store, otherwise online PLAs show if eligible. The standard distance to a store is five miles although advertisers have the ability to adjust this.

Multichannel Ad Results

Interested in learning more about LIAs? Download our latest white paper here which showcases what an LIA rookie – or expert – needs to know to get started with the program.


3 Responses

  1. Mike says:

    Great insight. I am still surprised to see 90% of sales are in brick and mortar stores

  2. I’m absolutely FLOORED that 90% of retail sales are still in brick-and-mortar stores! Seems like we’re constantly hearing about the death of stores, the showrooming phenomenon, the hazards of mobile scan-and-price-comparison apps, the astronomic growth of online retail, etc. Articles like this one:
    http://adlucent.com/blog/2015/buy-buttons-everywhere/
    … would lead me to believe that at least 25% of all retail transactions are occurring online.

    Now I’m really wondering how a continued migration to online retail will affect paid search bidding…

  3. Holly Pauzer says:

    We were intrigued by those stats as well. Online sales are constantly growing of course, but their % of total is still at around 10% or so, as an average of the sources we reviewed. During research we came across stats similar to the 25% of total sales coming from online that you mentioned, and once you dig into the methodology used for each, and the sectors that they include, it’s easy to see why these vary. If you look at data put out by the US government for retails sales (https://www.census.gov/retail/mrts/www/data/pdf/ec_current.pdf), the trend is similar to the A.T. Kearney study we looked at, with e-commerce as a % of total retail sales for Q1 2015 at 7%, but consistently growing each quarter. E-commerce sales as a % of total for Q1 2015 vs Q1 2014 increased by 14.5%, whereas total retail sales only grew 1.6%.

    We think that the e-commerce growth far outpacing in-store growth, is a big reason why so many are surprised by the in-store sales stats. PWC (http://www.pwc.com/us/en/press-releases/2015/2015-us-total-retail-press-release.jhtml) put out a good study on this recently as well, in which they address similar thoughts. “For the past several years, the story around retail stores was ‘showrooming,’ in which stores were places to display items for online purchase. However, this year’s survey results reveal that the online shop has also become a showroom where shoppers research and compare prices for later, in-store purchases,” said Steven Barr, PwC U.S. retail & consumer practice leader.”

    It will indeed be interesting to see how much more paid search will help to drive in-store sales, and online, as omnichannel measurement advances, along with retailers truly embracing omnichannel goals.

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