Dialing Into Success with Google AdWords Call Tracking

Like any Internet marketer worth their salt, you know that your PPC ads generate online conversions and offline conversions (e.g., phone calls). With the massive growth in mobile advertising, the likelihood of your ads generating phone call activity is even greater.

The need to track calls is great, but it can be challenging. There are numerous software options available (If By Phone, BionicClick, Mongoose Metrics).

Google entered the foray a while back by introducing Call Extensions directly into the AdWords interface. Google’s offering is a solid baby step into the world of call tracking and will give you strong understanding of how your ads affect phone calls.


Call Extensions Options

The Call Extension allows you to publish your business phone number with your text ads in search results across computers, tablets and smartphones. Getting your phone number up is really just the first step. For smartphones, this is all you need to do to start tracking click-to-call activity – and each click-to-call will be charged to you as a normal CPC charge.

For computers and tablets, your number will be published after setting up the Call Extension. What about tracking these manually dialed phone calls? This is where the “Google forwarding phone number” comes into play. For computers and tablets, you can choose to pay a minimum of $1 per call to have Google publish a forwarding number with your ads that effectively tracks the number of calls.

You can tweak these options to only show the phone number with smartphones. And for smartphones, you can even force the searcher to click the phone number by disabling the website link (great for businesses where a phone call is the primary call-to-action).

These options are a great first step toward seeing phone call activity associated with your text ads in search. This is only part of the picture – there is still a major gap in information for calls that originate from the landing page post-click. Google is working on a beta test to track calls from landing pages, but more on that another day!

You should use Google’s Call Extensions knowing that you are only getting call data when the searcher has seen your phone number associated with a text ad.

Call Reporting

Calls tracked through mobile click-to-call activity as well as manually dialed calls through the forwarding numbers are all tracked in your AdWords data. All calls are recorded under the Dimensions tab and the “Call Details” view. From here you can see the number of calls, type of call (mobile click-to-call or manual dial), length of call, and even the area code of origin:


Manually dialed call data is published as “Call Details” under your “Columns” editor and can be added to your campaigns and ad groups. This is good top-line data, but doesn’t shed much light on ad or keyword level activity. This can also lead to confusion as many advertisers have fallen prey to thinking this phone call stat is inclusive of manually dialed calls and mobile click-to-call.


Mobile click-to-call data is also published as a “Click Type” segmentation for mobile-targeted campaigns:



Google’s Call Extensions are a great tool for getting some top-level reporting on call activity associated with your search ads. The implementation is beyond easy and the reporting is at your fingertips.

Perhaps you can use this data as leverage to get full-scale call tracking from your boss or client? At the very least, you can use this data to show that your PPC efforts are doing more than generating clicks and online conversions! Happy tracking.

Related reading

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