In the current economic climate, with an increase in struggling high street sales, we have witnessed the rise of affiliate programmes and coupon platforms.

Last year Google stepped into the arena with Google Offers (in beta), and has now furthered its stake in the offers race with Google Offer Extensions. 

Offer Extensions allow advertisers to create an additional link on their paid search adverts. This link then delivers an offer that can be redeemed in two forms: online or offline.

Online Redemption

By clicking on the ‘view offer’ link, a potential customer will be taken to an offer page on the advertiser’s website. As per the example above, this page either includes the option to purchase 20% off green lava lamps, or a redemption code.

Offline Redemption 

After clicking through the ‘view offer’ link, the potential customer is taken to a Google-hosted landing page where a coupon can be printed and taken instore to redeem.

There is also the option for the user to save the page which is later accessible via the ‘my offers’ section of their Google account.

Offer Extensions, currently in beta, will undoubtedly add power to Google Offers with the unique ability of promoting a business in a variety of ways.

If we take Niketown as an example, the offer extensions in conjunction with the paid search ad will:

  • Promote Nike’s website (via online redemption).
  • Prompt footfall to the physical location; the real-life Niketown store (via offline redemption).
  • Increase brand awareness via generic searches such as ‘trainers’, which will help grow Nike’s customer base.
  • Act as a form of brand marketing when someone searches Nike or Niketown, which will aid in boosting bottom-line revenue as loyal customers make redemptions.
  • Enable a form of social marketing via the Google+ feature of the ad.
  • Act as a form of affiliate marketing.

As correctly speculated by Econsultancy’s Patricio Robles in 2010, Google has now made the step of integrating offers with search.

The above points put Google in a unique position as potential customers are already searching for a particular brand or product, making the offer highly relevant.

Additionally, its vast reach and strength in demographic and geographic targeting make Offer Extensions a cost effective promotion (since they are charged on a cost-per-click basis). The offers are also completely measurable, even in the case of offline redemption.

Google’s Offer Extensions are another step in its attempt to provide a comprehensive package of online services.

In this particular case, Google has taken the extra stride of directly impacting offline activity, footfall, via online sources.

Moreover, Google Offers and Offer Extensions have advanced into the affiliate market by creating an avenue which essentially acts as a referral in terms of encouraging footfall.

The extent of their influence offline has yet to be proven, but in terms of bridging the gap between offline and online marketing, Offer Extensions may be a key development in this process.

This is a promising development which should help offline retailers to drive multichannel sales, but we will hold judgement until we have measured the impact of this Google innovation, and follow up in a few months with our conclusions.