Google Introduces “Bid For Calls” On The PC

Earlier this summer Google gave an indication this was coming. Now Google is rolling out what it’s calling “bid for calls,” a pay per call (PPCall) offering on the PC. This is distinct from Click to Call, its successful mobile PPCall product. The program will launch in the US and UK at first and relies on the Call Metrics (Google Voice) infrastructure.

AdWords advertisers must use Call Metrics and a Google Voice-generated call tracking number to participate. But rather than just paying $1 per completed call for call tracking, advertisers can now separately bid on calls.

In the near future, depending on the amount of bids and how many calls are received, Google will begin to include calls in its ads quality score. I spoke to Google’s Surojit Chatterjee who told me advertisers that don’t participate in bid for calls won’t be disadvantaged. But advertisers whose paid-search ads are generating lots of calls may see a boost in their AdWords rankings accordingly.

In other words, “call-through rate” will now be a factor in ranking. To participate in bid for calls advertisers enable Call Extensions and Call Metrics:

Last year when Google’s call tracking program “Call Metrics” was first introduced I suspected PPCall wouldn’t be far behind. Google experimented with PPCall on the PC years ago but never rolled it out broadly.

Despite its relatively low-key introduction this morning, this is a major development for Google and for AdWords advertisers. Being able to bid on calls separately as well as getting ranking “credit” for calls generated from Google ads will be significant for many advertisers (local and national) that operate call centers or have stores in the real world.

Related Topics: Channel: SEM | Features: General | Google: AdWords | Google: Outside US | Search Ads: Pay Per Call | 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.

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  • George Michie

    It will be fascinating to see how this plays out. The cost of a call is not just what you pay Google, it’s what you pay the person who takes the call, and the opportunity costs associated with increasing call center wait times, particularly if the conversion rates on these calls are lower than the average call taken currently.

    That said, targeted appropriately, this could be very interesting indeed.

  • Greg Sterling

    Fair points George.

  • Michael Shostack

    More disappointing news from Google on the call-tracking front. While I applaud the ability to let advertisers focus on the actions that are most valuable to their business (calls), it seems Google is trying to force its awful call tracking solution on anybody who wants to use this.

    Their Call Metrics product, simply put, is overpriced for advertisers (particularly national ones with large accounts) who do any sort of real volume. Compare $1/call for one number with a couple bucks per month per 800 number and a few cents per minute for most other call-tracking providers.

    Also, while I can’t really fault Google for taking the approach they did with the minimal info they make available on the callers (to say they are being careful about PII and privacy at the moment would be an understatement), that simply won’t cut it for advertisers with complex back-end tracking. Many Clients need full visibility into all of the caller data (that Google does not provide) in order to map things back correctly into their CRM for conversion/ROI reporting purposes.

    So in short, a cool feature that would be a huge boon to many national advertisers that highly-value calls, will likely be completely unable to use this because it will be overpriced compared to their current options and they will lack the necessary data for their tracking needs.

  • Roger Williams

    my concern is what happens when the customer writes down this Google phone number and calls back 2 weeks or 2 months later? how long does this number stay associated?

  • Greg Sterling

    Roger: The number probably doesn’t stay associated with the business for more than a couple of days but I don’t know for sure.

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