Google Introduces Call-Only Ads

If your business values calls from prospective customers more than Website clicks, Google has a new advertising feature for you. AdWords’ new ‘call-only’ campaign option has been launched and is appearing in Google mobile search. It shows only on smartphones – the call-only ads do not appear on desktops, laptops, or tablets.

The ads have a call phone number link and call button to make it easy for users to click to call. Once clicked, a dialog box pops up and they can either complete the call or there is a cancel button. Either way, it’s counted as a click.

call-only Google ad

Mobile Focused

Google said that 70% of mobile searchers used the click-to-call button in ads in 2013 and mobile has now become the predominant device from which users search. Previously before the launch of call-only ads, the only way to get clicks as calls, was to use the AdWords ‘call extension’ setting which showed a clickable phone number.

By creating a call-only ad, Google is able to bypass issues over call quality and duration. For advertisers, they can specifically target searchers on mobile devices with a focus on driving calls. This should be a win-win for Google, its advertisers, and consumers.

Setting Up a Call-Only Campaign

To create a call-only ad, you cannot simply cut and paste your traditional AdWords search ads over for your call-only campaign as the fields are different. You need to supply a business name, phone number, two lines of descriptive text, and display URL for your ad. There is an optional verification URL field, which Google can use to verify the phone number the advertiser entered for the ad matches what is used for their business.

Otherwise, setting up a call-only campaign is much the same as setting up a traditional AdWords search campaign. You still have ad groups, keywords, location targeting, scheduling, and extension to utilize. But since your only can only show on smartphones, you’re not bidding/paying for ads on any other device type.

With call-only search ads, you capture 100% of the leads as calls, and they’re calling you at the moment of their search. And because you are aiming for calls only, you can better calculate cost per action and return on investment for sales that come through the phone.

call-only ad settings

Tips For Creating Better Ads

When constructing your call-only ads, it’s important to use calls to action that are more likely to invoke a call such as ‘Call Now!’, ‘Free Consultation’, or ‘Make an Appointment Now!’. This also helps to streamline messaging when preparing AdWords text ads.

Even though the ads are aimed at getting calls only, ads still need to be carefully crafted. Quality score is still very important. While there is no landing page to evaluate, there is still keyword/ad relevance and expected click through rates to contend with, along with optimizing your ad text and display URL with best practices. It’s a good idea to consult with an AdWords certified professional.

Pricing & ROI

Once the ad is clicked on and the dialog box opens, the advertiser is charged for a click. The pricing is likely be similar to what a Google search ad costs on mobile. However, overall costs are likely to be lower since you aren’t paying for traffic from those searching on desktops, laptops, or tablets.

Because you are aiming for calls only, you can better calculate cost per action and return on investment for sales that come through the phone. Also, call-only minimizes concerns about landing page quality and the costs involved with building landing pages or how ‘mobile-friendly’ the Website is.

You can still run simultaneous traditional AdWords search ads AND call-only campaigns and there are some good reasons for doing so. However, there is the possibility of bidding against yourself if your traditional search ads include mobile devices.


It’s important to know there are some features that are lacking in a call-only campaign. Call-only is for search only so there is no display advertising or ad retargeting available. If you want to continue to serve ads to prospective customers that click on your ads, it’s prudent to keep your traditional AdWords search ads running.

Also, if you’re advertising in a language other than English, the ad still says ‘Call: xxx-xxx-xxxx’ (phone number) as the headline of the ad, it doesn’t provide the translation for ‘call’. This could be confusing if you’re targeting non-English readers. However, the ‘call’ button does have a phone icon.


The call-only feature is a significant step forward in mobile search advertising. For Google, it takes head-on the issue of lower ad revenue for mobile compared to desktop thatplagued it in recent years. For a company known for its technology where simplicity hasn’t always been at the forefront, it will be interesting to see how Google’s call-only advertising impacts the market and affects demand and pricing for mobile ads.

It’s a good bet Google will see an up-tick in ad sales for this new feature, attracting new advertisers who see the most value in a call. Since this is a brand new feature, the ads will need to be tested and need close monitoring and ongoing optimization.

For local businesses or national merchants that value calls more than clicks (and unless you’re an online retailer without a phone number you promote, many businesses do) from targeted search engine traffic, Google’s new call-only campaigns should receive strong consideration in your advertising budget.

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