How to assess the impact of offline ads on online sales

Analytics Strategies Retail

Earlier in our blog, we discussed how the behavior of users on the site is related to purchases in physical stores. We have already discussed what the ROPO effect (Research Online Purchase Offline) is and why businesses need it. In this article, we talk about the opposite effect — how offline advertising affects online sales. 

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How to assess the impact of offline ads on online sales

Many companies actively and successfully use offline advertising, combining it with digital channels. For example, on the Hubspot blog, you can read about 15 creative ways to use offline ads to support online campaigns. Corporations such as Lexus, Motorola, and Nivea are still using billboards and print ads in magazines, but are doing so in a new way.

A 2018 retail study prepared by Conversant shows that shoppers under 35 are 34% more likely to order goods online after fitting them in store. Why does this happen? A customer can both compare prices, choose a cheaper option, and simply order the same model in a different color or size. Such a buying strategy is called the Bricks-to-Clicks model. 

bricks-to-clicks model
A simple example for the e-commerce industry: the client wants to buy himself a new pair of sneakers, but is afraid to pick the wrong size. He comes to the store to fit his shoes, makes sure everything suits him, and then makes an order through the site. That’s why it’s so important to assess the impact of offline ads on online sales.

Useful links:
5 Most Innovative Print Ads Ever – From Genius to Just Plain Weird!
4 Awesome Examples of Interactive Printing

Reverse ROPO: how to track the impact of offline advertising on online sales

The opposite effect of ROPO (research offline, purchase online) occurs when the buyer receives information about the right product offline, but the order is made online. Reasons why customers do this are:

  1. The customer wants to look at the product live before paying for it.
  2. It’s cheaper to order online.
  3. The item in the right color or size is not in the store.
  4. A person is uncomfortable with buying right now and will make an order later.

Most often, the reverse ROPO can be found in such departments as electronics, cosmetics and perfumes, and clothing and shoes. That is, in those industries where the client more often tests the goods personally and with their own hands, and then looks for the most profitable offer in online stores.

So why would businesses track the impact of offline advertising on online sales? In order to:

  • understand what proportion of customers go to a regular store and then order on the site.
  • see deficiencies in the available product range in the physical store.
  • confirm the effectiveness of the online store.

Any customer path can be described as people's desire to purchase the right product in the right place. Accordingly, (as to Conversant's 2018 report), shoppers using multiple channels (online and offline) make 3.2 times more purchases than shoppers who come over only one channel.

To track all advertising campaigns, you must set up end-to-end omnichannel analytics that takes into account the behavior of users both online and offline. For example, in our blog, you can read how useful the system of end-to-end omnichannel analytics is. 

Want to know how an efficient web analytics system is configured using the example of the OWOX BI service? Request a personal demo and see what kind of results a well-functioning analytics system should produce:

What data you need to track

To assess the impact of offline ads on online sales, you need data about:

  1. User behavior on the site (transaction information, item details, etc.).
  2. Executed orders and returns.
  3. Interactions with a traditional store.

Important! In order to calculate the reverse ROPO effect, it’s necessary to take into account the conversion window of the user. The conversion window is the time during which the customer decides to buy the item or not. In most cases, it’s up to 30 days, during which time the customer continues to see advertising from the company, such as receiving advertising emails or seeing banners on social networks.

You can get the necessary information about the behavior of users by using:

  • BigQuery Export for Google Analytics (please note that this feature is only available on Google Analytics 360).
  • OWOX BI Pipeline — automatically uploaded unsampled user behavior data from the site or application.

Completed orders data are taken from the CRM of the company’s system. For example, you can use Salesforce or scripts to automatically upload data through OWOX BI.

Useful link:

How do I get information about interaction with an offline store? To track a buyer’s activity with an item in physical stores, you need to decide which user identifier can be used to identify the buyer in the store and link to their personal data online. The following methods are often used:

  1. Loyalty cards and promotional codes. Some of the easiest and most common ways to track customers across channels. It’s common for shoppers to share personal data with a store, specify a birth date and phone number along with their emails. With this information, you can link offline and online data and increase the effectiveness of your advertising campaigns.
  2. QR-код. Such codes are used to connect goods and users through the application. In order to register in such an application, the buyer needs to enter his personal information, which can then be associated with the actions on the site.
  3. Augmented reality. Often customers want to visualize an item before they buy. In such a case, the company’s application helps customers choose clothes, shoes, furniture, and so on. Of course, the application reads the customer’s UserId.

A curious fact — Conversant's 2018 study claims that 39% of buyers participate in customer loyalty programs (26% more than the previous year). And on holidays such as Christmas and New Year’s Day, the number of regular customers who use discounts rises to 69%.

Of course, you'll need the help of a developer to set up customer-store tracking. These events must be sent to Google BigQuery tables. Either the Measurement Protocol or the mobile application SDK is used for this purpose. You can read more in our blog about options for uploading data into Google BigQuery storage, such as uploading already prepared CSV/JSON files and transferring data via API or addon.

Important! Remember to check your data for errors. For example, orders should not be redundant in the final data table, and the total amount of orders should be the same.

What other errors can occur?

  • Data from the CRM system has not been loaded.
  • Errors while combining data tables.
  • Some data is missing.

Visualization of obtained data

To easily and quickly evaluate the resulting offline and online activity data, you should visualize them. We have repeatedly written about the need to visualize data, but if you have missed our articles, we recommend reading:

It's worth noting that most often companies choose simple and affordable tools such as Google Sheets and Data Studio to visualize data.

Useful links:

Google Data Studio tutorial for beginners

Automate Reports in Google Sheets Using Data from Google BigQuery

In addition, our blog shows two cases from OWOX BI customers about data visualization of ROPO analysis

  1. Omnichannel retailer wanted to identify the contribution of online sources to offline sales to learn the real ROI of advertising campaigns and build a marketing strategy on more complete data. To visualize the obtained data, the company chose Google Data Studio, and OWOX BI analysts created an informative dashboard with visual graphs (from which you can export data for more detailed analysis and planning of the advertising budget).
  2. ROPO analysis for Darjeeling. To properly assess the global impact of online advertising and site on sales in offline stores, the company’s marketers needed to link online visitors to offline buyers and determine the share of offline shopping revenue that users made through online advertising. Darjeeling chose Google Sheets and Google Data Studio to present the data, and OWOX BI analysts created dashboards for detailed analysis and planning of the advertising budget.

OWOX BI customers grow 22% faster! Would you like to do the same? Sign up for a personal demo at a convenient time for you and our experts will tell you how to do ROPO and reverse ROPO analysis for you to find business growth points!


Key Takeaways

Technology allows marketers to track and measure both online and offline user actions. The world of traditional advertising meets with virtual marketing and with the help of analytics it’s possible to estimate at what stage of funnel visitors turn into buyers or brand ambassadors.

Consider interactions with customers in physical stores with online conversions, visualize data, and make the right decisions for your business.

If you still have questions, ask them in the comments below:)

And if you want to learn more about ROPO analysis and more, subscribe to our newsletter with the most useful tips for modern marketers and analysts:



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  • How can offline advertising contribute to online sales?

    Offline advertising can contribute to online sales by increasing brand awareness and driving targeted traffic to a website. By utilizing channels such as television, radio, print media, billboards, and events, businesses can reach a wide audience and generate interest in their products or services. Providing a memorable brand experience offline can also lead to increased online search activity and direct traffic to the website, leading to higher online sales.
  • What are some effective strategies for integrating offline advertising with online sales?

    To effectively integrate offline advertising with online sales, businesses can incorporate techniques like QR codes, unique URLs, and specific tracking phone numbers in their offline ads. QR codes can be scanned by customers to instantly direct them to a landing page or product page on the website, making it easy for them to transition from offline engagement to online conversion. Unique URLs and tracking phone numbers can be used in offline campaigns to measure the direct impact of the advertising on online sales, providing valuable data for future optimization.
  • Can offline advertising help in targeting specific online audiences?

    Yes, offline advertising can help target specific online audiences by using data-driven strategies. By leveraging customer research, businesses can identify their target audience's offline media consumption patterns. This information can then be used to strategically place advertisements in relevant offline channels that will attract the desired online audience. Furthermore, by utilizing digital tools for offline campaign tracking and measurement, businesses can analyze the impact of offline advertisements on specific online audience segments and optimize future advertising efforts accordingly.