clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Google Will Help You Shop on Black Friday (And Help Advertisers See Where You Went)

Black Friday brings on the war between Google and Facebook for mobile ad cash.

Stephen Chernin / Getty Images

Want to shop on Black Friday, but hate crowds? Or worried that the thing you want will be sold out? Google would like to help.

The search giant is opening up some of its trove of location data ahead of the busy retail weekend, launching a dedicated blog post where shoppers can see how busy stores are and search for in-stock items.

More critically, Google will also be sharing these searches* with paying advertisers. On Tuesday, the company is introducing an AdWords feature updating its store visit tracker to give advertisers more granular details on the connection between mobile search queries and brick-and-mortar store visits. The hope, for Google, is that this spurs more mobile ad buying as the company battles Facebook for digital budgets during the lavish holiday season. It caps off a year of Google’s aggressive pitch to ad buyers that its mobile offerings can reach consumers more effectively than the social media titan.

Facebook, which has offered similar data on store sales since 2012, has an edge in the race: It knows who the shoppers are. Google has a different edge — it knows where shoppers are — but has been reluctant to deploy its Maps data for its ad customers. That is starting to change.

Before, retailers using AdWords could only see the foot traffic for their stores on a given ad campaign. Google rolled out this feature last December. Now retailers will be able to see — and tweak their spending based on — shopper’s particular search keywords and at particular times. So Modell’s can now see if they sold more Swagway Smart Balancing Electric Skateboards based on a search for “swag skateboard” or “hoverboards near me.” For example.

Google says all the store-visit data is anonymous and secure.

Last month, Google introduced an adjacent feature for advertisers that lets them see how product searches vary by region. Both Facebook and Twitter have toyed with retail beacons, attempting to tie mobile ad budgets to physical purchases. Fortune reported that Google was weighing an ad product within Maps, but shut it down because it was deemed too invasive and lacked retailer interest.

The Black Friday store-visit data marks the first time Google has exposed its prolific mapping data to the public. Shoppers can see infographics here.

Update: Google is actually sharing the rate of store visits based on keywords with advertisers, not the searches themselves. The hair splitting here is for privacy reasons.

This article originally appeared on