A Complete Guide to Google’s Call-Only Ads

Laura Caveney
6th August 2021

Want to incorporate Google’s call-only ads but not sure where to get started? Keep reading to find out how to optimise your ads and get more data from your leads.


Now more than ever, it’s essential to have an accessible business. With web visitors increasingly going mobile, you want to be present where prospective customers need you most. And when mobile users are so on the go, a phone call tends to be the easiest and fastest way to connect.

According to Think with Google, 60% of smartphone users contacted a business directly using the search results such as the “click to call” option in 2019. So, you can see how important calls are to mobile users. And that translates to ads too.

But we found that 62% of marketers who use phone calls as a conversion tool struggle to track them. So where’s the disconnect and how can you get around it?

Keep reading to learn:

What are call-only ads and how do they work?

Call-only ads on Google are displayed to mobile device users only. Instead of providing a URL for a web user to click on, they instead click to call your business directly.

Here’s an example of how they look:

call only ad sample google


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

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

Related: Complete guide to PPC call tracking


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

Call-only ads are set up to display only when a business is open. So, don’t worry. You won’t be facing call charges when you’ve shut up shop for the evening.


Before you get started

All good paid advertising starts with proper tracking. We couldn’t write a guide to call-only ads without first explaining what you need to implement before you dive in.

Imagine this.

You set your call-only ad on day 1. After a week, you’ve driven 50 calls to your business from your PPC ad (thanks to Google’s native call tracking reporting).

But how many of these calls converted into a sale?

While call tracking is the first step in effective tracking, it only takes you so far. Did any of those 50 new leads convert into a sale? It’s impossible to say.

ppc call-only ads revenue visibility


The issue you have here is connecting closed sales back to your marketing. While you can track the number of inbound calls as a result of your ad, that’s all you can do.

We suggest investing in a call tracking and marketing attribution tool that can help you track every inbound call and continue to track that lead through their full customer journey. Thank us later.


marketing attribution - banner - www.ruleranalytics.com





How to set up call-only ads

Now for the good stuff. Setting up call-only ads in Google Ads is simple with the right instructions.

If you’ve integrated PPC call tracking to track revenue, then it’s time to drive some calls to your business.

To get started, head to your Google Ads dashboard.

Click Ads in the type list, then select Call-only ads.

how to set up call-only ads click create ad


Click Add call-only ad.

how to set up google call-only ads


Select the campaign and ad group for the ad, and click Ok.

Add relevant information in the edit panel, including the phone number and description.

google call-only ads ad editing


Enable ‘Call Reporting’ if you wish to collect data on your ad’s performance.

Under ‘Conversion action’, you can choose to count calls as conversions. We recommend doing this alongside your proper call tracking (mentioned above!).


How to optimise your call-only ad campaigns

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 might 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.

And remember, 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.

Related: 8 ways to improve your PPC lead quality



Wrapping up

According to Marketing Land, phone calls have a conversion rate of 30 to 50%, while clicks have a 1 to 2% conversion rate. We know what we’d hedge our bets on!

If click-only call ads are something you’re looking to try, why not test them out?

Want to track all of your inbound calls in this way? Here’s our guide to tracking calls in Google Analytics. 


If you’re still struggling with tracking calls across your marketing channels, then download our guide to offline conversion tracking. Our eBook will show you exactly how you can link your offline sales back to your online leads.