Design & Development

How to Generate Phone Calls from PPC Ads

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by Web Marketing Today. Practical Ecommerce acquired Web Marketing Today in 2012. In 2016, we merged the two sites, leaving Practical Ecommerce as the successor.

In this interview, Internet marketing expert Joseph Kerschbaum explains how phone ads work, that display phone numbers — and allow customers to click to call — in a PPC ad.

Businesses are accustomed to generating traffic to their websites by advertising on Google AdWords.  Those ads contain links that searchers click on, landing them on the advertisers’ websites.  But advertisers can also insert phone numbers in their AdWords ads, allowing searchers to call an advertiser’s business, not just click on its website.

We spoke recently with an expert on Google’s “Pay Per Call” ad extension, asking him to explain it to us.  He’s Joseph Kerschbaum, vice president of Clix Marketing, a search engine marketing firm.

Web Marketing Today:  How can businesses generate phone calls from their Google AdWords ads?

Joseph Kerschbaum:   “Well, there are a couple different ways that advertisers can generate calls from their AdWords campaigns. First of all, the way that you actually get a phone number on your AdWords ad is that underneath your call extensions in your campaign, or ad extensions, there will be something called ‘Ad Extensions.’ And then you can add a call extension on to your ads. So that’s where you add your site links and your locations and all of that. There’s actually a call extension there.”

WMT:   So instead of a URL, it’s going to show a phone number?

Kerschbaum:    “Advertisers actually will have a couple of different options. First, when somebody looks online, like on a laptop, they can see they can click through to your website, and there will actually be a phone number beneath there, so they can actually call directly from their laptop.

“Second, there’s also mobile. So then you can add a phone number onto your mobile campaign, and there’s two options you have there. You can either make your ad clickable, so they can either call you or click through to your website,. Or you can make your ad where it’s call only. So if somebody clicks on it, it automatically calls you.

“Those are the two ways that you can that you can generate calls from your AdWords campaigns. One of them is on laptop and one of them is on mobile.”

WMT:   So what if they are using a desktop computer? What happens then?

Kerschbaum:   “They can actually call you just using like Skype.”

WMT:   What if they are not Skype kind of people? I mean they could call on a conventional phone. The number is going to be displayed.

Kerschbaum:   “Yeah.”

WMT:   It’s just not trackable.

Kerschbaum:    “Exactly. They could just call you directly.”

WMT:   So let’s talk about how Google is tracking this, and how an advertiser is getting charged for it.

Kerschbaum:    “If somebody sees your number in the listing and just calls you directly, there’s no charge. But if somebody sees your phone number in your ad and clicks on it, you just pay like you would per-click;  pay the amount that you would for a click.”

WMT:    Are people clicking on phone numbers?

Kerschbaum:    “Yes. We are seeing people do that. So when we implement these things, especially for mobile, they do work pretty well. In regards to tracking, if you want to be able to track your phone calls, which probably most people do, there is now a new option within Google AdWords called ‘Call Metrics.’ And all you have to do is when you are setting up your call extension — under your settings tab — all you have to do is opt-in to Call Metrics. And it uses a Google Voice number to forward to your number. So then it’s able to look at the number of calls, call duration, completed calls. I think you can even get the zip code of the call. There are a slew of things you do there.

“The difference there is when you don’t use Call Metrics. You just pay how much you would pay for a click. It’s called ‘bid per call.’ It’s $1.00 per call. But you get all of that data. You get all of the data from the phone call.”

WMT:   The typical ad has a headline, two lines for description, and one line for a URL. Does the phone number add an extra line? Or does it replace one of those other lines?

Kerschbaum:   “It depends. If you display both your URL and your phone number, you will get an additional line. If it’s a mobile ad and if you decide you only want somebody to be able to call you, then searchers will only see that.”

WMT:  Do you pay extra to have that extra Google Voice line?

Kerschbaum:   “No. You don’t pay extra. We have found — with our advertisers, anyway — that it works pretty well. Even if somebody doesn’t click on it, they just call directly. We do see phone calls go up, but then we also see phone calls directly from AdWords.”

WMT:  Is the bidding for this kind of thing separate from a bidding for a text only ad? If so, are you seeing higher bid rates for this kind of feature?

Kerschbaum:   “That’s a good question. We don’t see a lot of variation from what our costs per clicks are. But there is something Google just introduced like, which is like a call Quality Score. So then if your ad does show a phone number, how often do people call you, actually call you through AdWords, and they are going to use that as a quality metric.”

WMT:   So Google is going to charge if you don’t use its service the way it wants you to?

Kerschbaum:   “Yes. Eventually it’s going to become a quality signal. For some of our clients, they generate calls all day long. So they say, ‘Well why not? All that’s going to do is help us overall. It just works out to our advantage.’”

Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
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