October 26, 2016: Last week, Google announced that original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) can now add a new kind of extension their Adwords campaigns called “Affiliate Extensions.” This is significant for two reasons: first, mobile searchers – after beginning a search session on their devices — are increasingly consummating their purchases in physical stores, and second, because up until now, Adwords’ location extensions have been limited to business hours, Google reviews, and phone numbers.
Why Affiliate Extensions are compelling
Affiliate Extensions provide a key piece of information routinely absent from product-related queries: exactly where (in the physical world) the searcher can actually consummate a purchase.
So, for example, if you’re the Acme Space Heater Company, and you distribute to a group of retailers in the New York City area, a mobile user typing in “space heater” who sees your ad who also happens to be near one of these retailers will be exposed to a message that will say “See 5 retailers near New York City.” (This message will appear immediately below the ad’s final line of copy). Tapping on the icon accompanying this message will yield directions to the retailer’s location.
Affiliate Extensions matters because so many online shoppers do their buying in physical stores. In fact, in a joint study with telecom carrier Sprint, Google determined that 90 percent of people who begin their purchase journey online ultimately wind up buying in a physical store.
Adding Location Extensions to your PPC campaigns
Adding Affiliate Extensions is a straightforward process that shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes. As Google reports in its post announcing the new feature, “To set up affiliate location extensions in AdWords, you simply add the extension, specify the retail chains where your products are sold, and we’ll take care of the rest. In contrast to standard location extensions, affiliate location extensions don’t require you to link to a Google My Business account.”
Measuring the value of Location Extensions
Reckoning the value that online ads deliver in terms of increased store traffic has traditionally been a challenge for retailers, and you (or your agency) will likely have to do some math to ensure that you’re not underspending or over-spending. Fortunately, Google provides a simple model on its Best Practices Page that you (or your agency) can customize to correctly compute ROI. Google also provides a white paper that will walk marketers through the process of testing the assumptions used in attribution modeling.
Google has announced that Affiliate Extensions will be available for U.S.-based Adwords users within the next two weeks – just in time for the peak 2016 Holiday Shopping season. We highly recommend that you keep an eye on your account and implement these extensions as soon as they become available. Doing so may give your campaigns – and your store traffic – a powerful boost you’ll need to leap ahead of your competitors as Q4 commercial queries begin to ramp up.