Digital Transformation Google Search Marketing

How retailers can use local PPC to drive footfall

By Ben Ladbrook, PPC Lead

Space & Time


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September 22, 2023 | 8 min read

Google’s pay-per-click (PPC) offering is always evolving. Here, Space & Time’s Ben Ladbrook outlines the search giant’s latest toolkit, including Performance Max, for retailers looking to drive local footfall.

A busy New York street, in black and white

How can Google's latest PPC offering reignite footfall for post-pandemic retailers? / Michael Daniels via Unsplash

In the dynamic world of digital marketing, Google Ads has evolved to become a versatile tool for advertisers. If you’re looking to increase local sales and drive more customers to your physical stores, Google Performance Max is the ace up your sleeve.

Here’s how advertisers can use search campaigns and Google Performance Max to promote local sales, including advertising across Google Maps and the impact of ‘near me’ searches.

The power of local search

Local searches are king. Reportedly, a whopping 46% of all Google searches have a local intent, making local searches a dominant force in the digital landscape. A significant portion of online users are actively seeking local businesses and services.

Then factor in the prevalence of mobile searches: with reports of huge increases in mobile searches containing the phrase “near me” in recent years (some have reported rises of up to 500%).

In this context, conversion rates have soared. Local searches often lead to action. According to Google, 76% of people who perform a local search on their smartphones visit a related business within a day, and 28% of these searches result in a purchase.

Consumers have turned to Google for an improved local experience. Some have reported that ‘in stock’ searches rocketed by a whopping +800%, with ‘open near me’ and ‘available near me’ reportedly seeing 400% and 100% increases respectively. This post-pandemic trend of ‘near me’ increased searches looks like it’s here to stay.

According to Google and Ipsos, 65% of consumers say that they check to see if an item is in stock before going to store. This is a lucrative opportunity for advertisers to capitalize on by creating engaging, relevant and compelling local search campaigns.

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Unleashing Google Performance Max

Google Performance Max is an automated ad campaign type that leverages machine learning and the vast reach of Google’s advertising network to optimize your ads across channels, including search, display, and YouTube. What makes it truly exciting for local businesses is its ability to promote store visits through Google Maps.

With Google Performance Max, your ads will automatically be eligible to appear on Google Maps (if you have successfully linked to an active Google My Business Store) when users are searching for businesses like yours in their vicinity. This extends your reach to a highly relevant audience.

These location-based ads can include vital information like your store’s address, directions, and special offers. When overlayed with geo-targeting (say by using a radius around specific stores or locations), you can target users who are nearby and physically searching for products or services you provide, helping to promote local, engaged and potentially new customers to your stores.

Google My Business (GMB)

No successful local campaign will be complete without a Google My Business profile: a free online tool provided by Google that allows businesses to create and manage their online presence on Google. It’s a crucial platform for local businesses looking to connect with customers in their area.

GMB allows you to create a detailed business listing that includes essential information such as your business name, address, phone number, website, hours of operation, and photos. Customers can also leave reviews and ratings for your business. Positive reviews can boost your online reputation, while negative reviews offer an opportunity for you to respond and resolve issues. You can post updates, events, promotions, and other content directly on your GMB profile to engage with potential customers.

The benefits of linking GMB to Google Ads

When you link your Google My Business account to Google Ads, you unlock several benefits that can significantly impact your local advertising efforts, including location extensions. These allow you to display your business’s physical address, phone number, and a map marker alongside your Google Ads and within maps as a sponsored listing. This information helps users find your store easily and encourages them to visit in person.

Other benefits include review extensions (which showcase positive reviews for social proof which can boost click-through rates and build trust with potential customers); local inventory ads (up-to-date information about in-store inventory for retailers); and location-specific targeting (geographic targeting which ensures that your ads are shown to users most likely to visit your store).

In the era of local intent-driven searches, Google Performance Max is a game-changer for advertisers. Its ability to advertise across Google Maps puts your business on the digital map, allowing you to tap into local audiences actively searching for products or services you offer. By understanding the significance of local searches, leveraging the power of Google Performance Max and search campaigns, you can set up an ad campaign that not only boosts local sales but also drives foot traffic to your stores.

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Digital Transformation Google Search Marketing

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