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Getting Started With AdWords Call-Only Campaigns

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How AdWords Call Only Ads Work

Back in the day, Campaigns could be set up to target only mobile users. Once AdWords rolled out Enhanced Campaigns, Campaign structure changed and mobile was tied up with desktop/tablet users.

The only control given was to modify your bids by a percentage amount for mobile users.

While there was a huge outcry against this (for many reasons), one of the main ones was that you could no longer control what time of day your mobile ads ran. They had to run when your desktop/tablet ones ran, which presented a challenge for advertisers who only answered the phone during certain hours, or knew when their heavy call times were.

Phone numbers could still be shown through Call Extensions, but the little levers that could be pulled based on mobile-specific performance were largely gone.

Call Only Campaigns help solve this issue.

This is a format within the regular Campaign, Ad Group, and Keyword settings you’re used to, but with one big advantage: they are shown only to mobile users, and they feature only the option to call directly from the user’s mobile phone. Therefore, you are bidding on calls, and not clicks.

So Who Needs These?

Past performance for mobile usage can be a key indicator as to whether the Call Only format is worth testing in an account. Specifically, the types of clicks that mobile has generated in the past is the big one. This may not be something an account regularly looks at or reports on, but it’s good to know. Calls from mobile users are tracked as such in reporting, but they don’t appear as actual Conversions, so the Click Type report will shed light on this. This is located in the Performance section, within the Click Types section:

Google mobile ad click types report

Those 18 clicks on Phone Calls stand out, don’t they? Anecdotally, clients may share that they do get phone calls, but whether those come from mobile users is the real question, as that’s what the Call Only Campaigns cater to.

Setting Up Call Only Campaigns in AdWords

Before setting up the Campaign, read up on the rules and parameters that Google has in place for these. They’re a little different than your normal search campaign, namely things like

  • No vanity numbers
  • Phone number verification methods
  • Voicemail ability with the phone number you use is required

If everything looks good from a guidelines standpoint, it’s time to create a Campaign. Go to the new Campaign creation screen by choosing a “Search Network Only” Campaign type.

There’s now an option for Call-Only:

Setting Up Call Only Campaigns in AdWords

This will automatically change the screen for all of the options available. (This includes the hours the ads should run, so be sure to verify when the “phones are open” for the account!)

The next step is setting up the first Ad Group and the Ad itself. One key thing to note — there’s no longer a headline, so don’t fall into the old habit of writing text for that first field.

The input order with Call Only Campaigns starts with the business name, the phone number, and then two descriptive lines of text. This last part deserves some thought. Remember these are users whose only choice is to call, and pushing them to do so is important! Any opportunity to call out “live support” or “speak to a specialist” would be well-used.

Another option here is to show your number, or to use a Google forwarding number. The drawback with using their number is it shows as an 800 number – so if the ad is for a local business, this could be off-putting to users. The benefit is that using their number will count as a conversion.

Like a regular Search campaign, there’s a space for the keywords to be entered. After that, there’s an approval process which can take a day or two at the current rate.

Troubleshoot To Overcome Confusion

There’s been some minor confusion around whether a Call Only Campaign is live because the Campaign and Ad Group will show as enabled, but impressions are low. Given the specificity of the user trying to be reached, some folks are unsure whether low impressions are just the nature of this Campaign type, or if their Campaign is not actually running.

The key is to check the status in the Ads tab. It will display pending approval, has been disapproved, or is approved.

When I launched my first Call Only Campaign, there seemed to be a huge backlog, and my campaign took just under a week to get approved, but this seems to have been resolved in the meantime. If your ad is disapproved, make sure you read the conditions noted carefully, as there are variations depending on the countries involved as well.

Call Only Campaign Reporting

You may want to denote this Campaign type in the name of your Campaign, so it’s easy to distinguish between it and its Search counterpart:

Call Only Campaign Reporting in Adwords

Per Google, the clicks recorded in your Call Only Campaign is actually the equivalent of a phone call. Naming things this way will also help in reporting, because the CPC is actually the cost per call, and the CTR is actually the call-through rate.

Thus far, the reaction to Call Only Campaigns has been largely positive, as advertisers have some control back over how they treat and value their mobile customers.

What’s been your experience with Call Only Campaigns?

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9 Responses to “Getting Started With AdWords Call-Only Campaigns”

  1. Niscoveanu Florin

    Lets say I am the only one running “Call Only Adds” on a specific niche. Do I need to overbid the “standard adds” so I can get a place in top 3 add listing on a mobile search?

  2. Niscoveanu Florin

    Lets say I am the only one running “Call Only Adds” on a specific niche. Do I need to overbid the “standard adds” so I can get a place in top 3 add listing on a mobile search?

  3. Susan Emmens Wenograd

    Hi Niscoveanu. I actually don’t know specifically, but my assumption is that it would behave like any other auction with low competition. I launched my Call Only test within a day or two of their announcement, but found my CPC had to be pretty on-par with what I had for Mobile to compete rankings-wise…however, it’s a competitive industry, so that might change if you’re in one that isn’t.

  4. Susan Emmens Wenograd

    Hi Niscoveanu. I actually don’t know specifically, but my assumption is that it would behave like any other auction with low competition. I launched my Call Only test within a day or two of their announcement, but found my CPC had to be pretty on-par with what I had for Mobile to compete rankings-wise…however, it’s a competitive industry, so that might change if you’re in one that isn’t.

  5. guillaume dardier

    That’s quite an interesting approach. You gave me several ideas, thanks ! We certainly do need to analyze the way cpc is going to run, but the faster we go, the better. Early adopters will certainly take great advantage

  6. guillaume dardier

    That’s quite an interesting approach. You gave me several ideas, thanks ! We certainly do need to analyze the way cpc is going to run, but the faster we go, the better. Early adopters will certainly take great advantage

  7. Mujahid shaikh

    I am trying the free version of raventool, and linked my Google adword with it, but the problem is my currency is different in adword and raventool fetching the US dollar as a currency. EG: My Adword cost is 4000 Indian rupees but the in Raventool it’s showing me $4000 . is their any way to change the currency in raventool??

    • Thanks so much for reaching out, Mujahid. And I’m sorry you’re having trouble switching currencies in AdWords. This can definitely be done! I’ve emailed you with the details. Please let me know if you don’t receive the instructions or have any further questions! 🙂

  8. Mujahid shaikh

    I am trying the free version of raventool, and linked my Google adword with it, but the problem is my currency is different in adword and raventool fetching the US dollar as a currency. EG: My Adword cost is 4000 Indian rupees but the in Raventool it’s showing me $4000 . is their any way to change the currency in raventool??