What are Affiliate Location Extensions (ALE), and how do they differ from typical Location Extensions?

ALEs are an AdWords feature that allows retailers and manufacturers to drive customers to specific authorized resellers and partners (full list below) without having to compete in their marketing space. This extension is available on both mobile and desktop, with additional functionality (like directions) built into the mobile iteration.

In this post, we’ll walk you through benefits and drawbacks of ALEs and what you can expect from them going forward.

Benefits of ALEs

  • Unlike sitelink extensions, ALEs will give consumers additional information about the affiliate to help reduce clicks and drive customers to the store. The ALE will show as an address or a map, with easy access to directions.
  • You don’t need to have a Google My Business account to set up or use ALEs in your account. This is particularly helpful for smaller businesses or those without any brick-and-mortar locations to sell from.
  • As with any ad extension, your ad gets more real estate on the SERP and gives your customers more options when researching and shopping for products.
  • Google provides a variety of affiliate categories. I counted 16 different product categories that manufactures may be able to take advantage of. The most common categories are Grocery and Department stores, so any brands that sell clothing, food, household products, or even pharmacy-related products through national chains have the most to gain from ALEs.

Drawbacks of ALEs

  • There are currently a limited number of retailers listed in the program. If you don’t sell your products through the 80 retailers listed in the extension dropdown, you are unable to take advantage of this feature. Google hasn’t announced if they are going to expand this list at some point. However, I expect they will continue to add retailers as they get positive data from the current ALE program.
  • If you are tracking Store Visits, you will not be able to see a boost in traffic from ALEs, as the Store Visit data relies on location data from a GMB account.
  • If you sell products from your own store locations as well as a major retailer, you will be pointing people to both locations. If your profit margins for store sales are higher than from a retailer or partner, you may want to focus your efforts on location extensions and only utilize ALEs when you need to expand, or use them in areas that have fewer store locations.

What’s next for ALEs?

When setting up ALEs, Google hints at possible future expansion.

“Relationship Type: General Retailers” indicates that there might be additional relationship types built out in the future, allowing more niche products, services, or relationships/partnerships to gain access to this feature.

“Country: US” indicates that while this feature is only currently available to major retailers in the United States, it is possible the list of retailers will expand to other countries, or international brands.

Keep your eyes out for new options and functionality with this feature down the road. If you don’t currently resell through the listed retailers, check back often to see what Google may add or change.

Affiliate Location Extension retailers as of March 2017

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Stephen Bergen
Stephen joined the 3Q Accelerate team in Austin, Texas in February 2016. He has been in the Digital Marketing industry since 2014 with a background in paid search. When he isn't geeking out over pivot tables and vlookup formulas, he is playing board games with friends, experimenting with his latest homebrew recipe, and building LEGOs. Also, he is excellent at parallel parking.