How to Take Advantage of Ads Call-Only Ads and Call Extensions

Not all business need to drive leads to their websites.

When someone’s driving home from work and using Google Assistant to find a place to grab dinner, they’re not going to pull over to make a reservation online.

They want to call the business.

When someone’s out shopping for the holidays and looking for a specific gift, they’re not interested in searching an e-commerce website to find out if a local store has what they need in stock.

They want to call and ask.

There are many scenarios where people may prefer calling a business to interact with its website: to make an appointment (healthcare) or reservation (dining), to confirm availability of an item or store hours (shopping), or to buy or reserve tickets (attractions).

Google calls these “I-want-to-go” and “I-want-to-buy” moments, and they’re exactly what Google Ads call-only ads were designed for.

call only ads adwords

Source: Think with Google


What Are Google Ads Call-Only Ads?

Call-only ads are a special type of Google Ads ad that only displays to users on mobile devices.

Here’s an example of how they look:

call only ads adwords

Source: Inside AdWords

Google Ads call-only ads include the following pieces of information:

  • Business name
  • Phone number
  • Website URL
  • Approx 80-character description field

However, the URL is for display only. Unlike traditional ads where clicks direct users to a specific webpage, call-only ad clicks initiate a phone call.

Call-only ads can also be expanded with certain extensions:

  • Location extensions display how far a business is from the user’s current location.
  • Structured snippet extensions provide information about products and services.
  • Callout snippets highlight promotions, sales, or unique benefits.

Best of all, the ad extensions are free – there’s no additional charge to include them.

Call-only ads are set up to display only when a business is open, so there’s no risk of getting charged for calls that are made when no one was on-site to answer the call.

If your marketing agency manages accounts for local businesses who could increase sales by getting more phone calls, you may want to consider running some test call-only ad campaigns.


Call-Only Ads vs. Call Extensions

Google Ads provides two options for click-to-call ads: call-only ads and call extensions.

Where call-only ads only allow users to make a phone call when clicked, call extensions provide users with an option to either visit a webpage or make a phone call.

Call extensions are available on traditional Google Ads ads.

While the bulk of the ad appears the same as any other Google Ads ad that links to a webpage, a call extension adds a “Call” button to the ad that initiates a phone call when clicked.

call only ads adwords

Source: AdWords Help

There are a few big differences between call-only ads and call extensions:

  • Call-only ads only display on mobile devices. Call extensions can display on any device. When a user is using a device that can’t make phone calls, the call extension displays the phone number instead of a call button.
  • Call-only ads only display a website URL—there’s no way for users to visit that URL from the ad. Call extensions allow users to choose whether they want to visit the website or make a phone call.

Like call-only ads, call extensions can be set up to display only when the business is open and there’s someone working who can answer calls.

Determining which option is best for your client’s business requires experimentation. Try running both types of ads, and use call tracking to measure how many calls are received and how many of those calls lead to sales.


Call Tracking for Call-Only Ads and Call Extensions

It’s possible to track how many phone calls call-only ads and call extensions are generating directly in Google Ads.

Once you have one of these two ad types set up and running, follow these instructions to set up call tracking and reporting.

And while Google Ads will tell you how many phone calls these ads generated, its method of reporting conversions is very limited.

Google uses the duration of the call to determine whether the call led to a conversion or not. For example, you can set it up so that only calls longer than 30 seconds are counted as conversions.

But there’s no way to prove that all calls over 30 seconds truly resulted in conversions, so there’s no way to show clients the true ROI of their call-only ads and call extensions.

To report actual ROI on calls driven by Google Ads ads, you need a more advanced call tracking system like Ruler Analytics.

With Ruler Analytics, track the exact number of phone calls generated by Google Ads ads, and record all inbound calls for download and playback later. This allows you to listen to the calls your ads generated and determine exactly how many led to sales.

Say someone calls one of your restaurant clients from a Google Ads ad and makes a reservation. The call may only last a few seconds, so a 30-second conversion timer wouldn’t register that call as a conversion.

However, if someone could play that call back later, they could hear that the call led to revenue for the business.

For clients with sales teams, Ruler Analytics tracking can also integrate directly with your client’s CRM, allowing conversions from a sales team to be connected back to the Google Ads ad, or other marketing campaigns, that generated the call and sale.


Call-Only Campaign Best Practices

When creating call-only ad campaigns, there are a few best practices you should keep in mind:

  • Target the right keywords. Take time to uncover the keywords that are most likely to drive calls. Look for keywords that signal a near-me or open-now intent. One good approach is to search for the keywords you’re interested in on mobile and look for other companies using call-only ads.
  • Schedule ads to run at prime times. For restaurants, prime times may be just before lunch or around dinner. For attractions, prime time may be on Friday evening or the weekend. Determine when people are most likely to be looking to call your client businesses, and run ads during those times.
  • A/B test your ad copy. The character count on call-only ads is extremely limited. You get 70 characters in total across two description lines. For this reason, it’s extremely important to use enticing, descriptive text, and the best way to do that is to run a few different versions to find the highest performer.
  • Take advantage of location targeting. If someone is looking to buy a laptop, they’re probably searching for a place near them at the moment. Target ads to display in the neighbourhoods nearest to your client’s businesses to decrease costs and increase the likelihood of calls.

Finally, make sure to track calls and conversions, and revise your approach as needed.

As with all forms of marketing, the most important outcome is increased revenue. If you’re not using a platform that tracks how many calls lead to conversions, there will be no way to show clients that their investment in call-only ads is valuable.


Using Call-Only Ads in Google Ads to Boost Client Revenue

For local businesses, phone calls and in-person visits are often much more profitable than visits to a website.

If your agency has local business clients, Google Ads call-only ads and call extensions can be a valuable means of boosting revenue and proving that their investment in your agency’s services is worthwhile.

If you’re currently running Google Ads for clients who want more phone calls, consider running a test where you allocate a portion of the cost of running ads to call-only ads or call extensions.

Track the conversions those new ads generate, and you’ll have a good indicator of the value of those ads types at the end of the experiment.

Written by

Marketing executive at Ruler Analytics with a background in SEO, analytics, content marketing and paid social. I help people (like me) close the loop between marketing-generated leads and revenue.