AdWords And Google Voice Hook Up To Form “AdWords Call Metrics”

What if AdWords and Google Voice had a love child? That child would probably be named “AdWords Call Metrics,” which is what Google is introducing today. Google is combining the functionality behind Google Voice with AdWords. That equals call tracking for AdWords campaigns.

Google’s objective in making call tracking available — offering both local and toll-free (VoIP)  numbers — is to show advertisers that AdWords is driving more value than they realize. In other words, Google is seeking to expose the additional ROI that AdWords drives in offline actions and activity. (That’s where most of the transactions are in fact.)

AdWords Call Metrics is available for both PC and mobile campaigns on “high end” devices (smartphones with full browsers). There’s no associated fee or change in the pricing of campaigns that choose to utilize call tracking.

On mobile devices marketers have the option of buying calls exclusively (“Click to Call”). However that option doesn’t yet exist on the PC. While Google wouldn’t confirm this, it’s reasonable to assume that over time Google will seek to align its PC and mobile offerings, making what amounts to pay-per-call available to PC-based campaigns.

In fact, in its blog post, Google says, “You’ll still only pay for clicks on your ad, although this may change as the product continues to evolve.” Pretty strong evidence that pay-per-call is coming to PC AdWords campaigns.

Similar to phone extensions, here’s what the ads look like: 1) top AdWords position, 2) right column 3) mobile:

The top ad I pulled from the web, the others are screenshots provided by Google.

To concretely illustrate the value of Call Metrics Google talked to me about a campaign involving furniture retailer Room and Board (which is how I got the screenshot above). About half the people who called the 800 number in the Room and Board ad bought something online. However the other half who called the number ultimately bought something in a local store.

That latter 50 percent was almost entirely invisible in determining ROI prior to AdWords Call Metrics. The company’s SEM firm figured out the in-store conversion rates by comparing the Google call data with in-store sales records and discovered “the other half.”

AdWords Call Metrics routes calls from the  VoIP tracking number to a designated business number. Google captures time of the call, call duration and (soon) area code. However marketers will only get reports on area codes in the aggregate; they won’t get individual call records.

Some firms, such as Marchex and Telmetrics, do provide detailed records of individual calls, including call recording and transcription. I asked Google about call recording and got a relatively standard no-comment-on-the-product-roadmap answer. I suspect that eventually Google will record and transcribe calls. There’s an enormous amount of valuable information in these calls for marketing and customer service purposes.

Google says that Call Metrics will be “available to a limited number of US advertisers” at first. In the coming months more people will get access. You’ll know when the option shows up in your AdWords account. Here’s what it will apparently look like:

In its post Google even offers a little “best practices” advice:

Once you know where your calls are coming from, you can refine your  marketing strategy to make sure you’re getting the most out of your ads. For example, you could test different ad text variations to see which  results in the most calls or reallocate budget to campaigns that truly  bring you the highest ROI.

This thinking behind Call Metrics isn’t new and a number of companies have similar solutions in the market (and have for some time). As mentioned Telmetrics and Marchex, but also Kenshoo with its novel “Call Conversion Optimization” initiative. Many marketers in fact have known for a long time that paid-search and other forms of online marketing drive offline transactions. But it has been very challenging to capture and measure that offline activity — other than with coupons.

Google was doing call tracking for its short-lived Local Listing Ads. Now any paid-search campaign will potentially be able to adopt the feature, which marketers should definitely test out and utilize.

YouTube Preview Image

Related Topics: Channel: SEM | Google: AdWords | Google: Maps & Local | Google: Mobile | Search Marketing: Local Search Marketing | Top News


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn


Get all the top search stories emailed daily!  


Other ways to share:

Read before commenting! We welcome constructive comments and allow any that meet our common sense criteria. This means being respectful and polite to others. It means providing helpful information that contributes to a story or discussion. It means leaving links only that substantially add further to a discussion. Comments using foul language, being disrespectful to others or otherwise violating what we believe are common sense standards of discussion will be deleted. Comments may also be removed if they are posted from anonymous accounts. You can read more about our comments policy here.
  • Rich Rosen

    Interesting that Goog kills 1800-Goog-411 the same quarter that is releases call tracking. If and when Goog releases call recording and transcription, the Goog411 archive will be a treasure trove. Also – a Goog411-type experience is interesting for merchants who fail to answer a (tracked) call. Google would know the geography and category and could easily reroute the call to a more responsive merchant.

  • Shredhead

    WOW. Huge implications here. I guess it was just a matter of time.

    This was one of the major unique value-add features that Google resellers had – and it’s now being diluted along with many other components of their business model. This, along with easier self-serve ad tools like Tags, the new Place Pages and their renewed advertising campaign targeting SMBs spells disaster for the AdWords Partners, and IYP’s in paticular, don’t you think?.

  • bgiffuni

    @Shredhead I Would say that it will transform the AdWords partners mentality, your clients will still hire you for your knowledge and creativity, they still need the partner that tells them that they can track the phone calls and how to improve the user experience. I feel that actually makes an AdWords certified person more valuable for the overall marketing mix and not only the PPC guys.
    What about conversion metrics for the incoming calls? how can be tracked? how to follow up, how to make sure your phone service is useful and have complete knowledge of the site and it applications.
    I agree that’s something think about on how to evolve.

  • KJ

    Thanks tor the heads-up on this. Calls can be tricky to pin down but this should help show a client what’s working and what isn’t. Call transcription will offer so much potential.

  • nicm

    check out We already do call tracking with real-time call recording coupled with free goal-based web analytics so you can correlate conversions with web activity.

Get Our News, Everywhere!

Daily Email:

Follow Search Engine Land on Twitter @sengineland Like Search Engine Land on Facebook Follow Search Engine Land on Google+ Get the Search Engine Land Feed Connect with Search Engine Land on LinkedIn Check out our Tumblr! See us on Pinterest


Click to watch SMX conference video

Join us at one of our SMX or MarTech events:

United States


Australia & China

Learn more about: SMX | MarTech

Free Daily Search News Recap!

SearchCap is a once-per-day newsletter update - sign up below and get the news delivered to you!



Search Engine Land Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors

Get Your Copy
Read The Full SEO Guide