Facebook and Google are trying to keep their mobile ads businesses humming by executing what they’ve largely failed to do so far: prove to brick-and-mortar retailers that their ads drive customers into stores.
Both companies say this will be a big investment year toward solving the problem. They’re marshalling data scientists and engineers, as well as building hardware like beacons or investing in mapping data, to make precise estimates about store visits. Both want to expand the measurement services to midsized and smaller businesses, which make up a bulk of their ad dollars. Convincing retailers, consumer brands and small businesses that mobile ads work is critical for them and other mobile ad businesses like Snap’s because more than 90% of commerce still happens offline, analysts say.