I received an email just before lunch from AdWords with the subject line, “Important update to AdWords click-to-call campaigns in the US.” (See email here.) I suspected it wasn’t going to be good, so I decided to wait to read it until I got my work done. It was a good decision as the email was filled with bad news.
Three sentences in the email caught my eye:
In order to offer you these additional features, we will convert all campaigns running call extensions to display a Google call forwarding number.
You may opt out of this conversion if you prefer not to use the Google call forwarding number.
If you’d like to continue using your own local or vanity phone number, you have the option to opt out of Call Metrics in the Call Extension settings. Please select “Show my business phone number only on high-end mobile phones (CPC)”. (Note: My bolding, not Google’s)
I figured I had to be reading this wrong. This would mean that if I wanted my clients’ actual business numbers to show up rather than Google’s call-forwarding number (which costs $1 every time someone calls it), that business phone number will only show up on smart phones. I figured that had to be wrong, so I called AdWords.
Google AdWords Confirms Call Extensions Will Only Appear on High-End Mobile Phones
I spoke with a rep who said that in order to serve their clients better and give them better information on conversions and calls, they had implemented this plan. Yes, if you are using a real business phone number, the extension will only appear if the searcher is using a high-end mobile phone. The only option is to put the phone number in the ad itself.
I asked if they’d thought about the fact that many sophisticated users were taking care of call tracking on their website and don’t need to use Google’s system. I got the same schpeel about how this will improve results data for their users.
Is Google Killing Free Call Extensions?
- Fact: Google currently has the technology to allow people to use real phone numbers in call extensions. The system is there and it works.
- Fact: Google currently has the option to use their call-tracking system at $1.00 a call and get the data.
- Fact: Google will soon force advertisers to either use Google’s call-tracking system or have the advertiser’s real-phone-number call extensions removed from all search results except on high-end mobile phones.
- Fact: Google is automatically transitioning existing call extensions to call-tracking extensions unless you ask them not to.
- My Conclusion: It’s hard not to come to the conclusion that Google is taking away a free service and forcing advertisers into a paid service under the flag of better data. I understand that Google wants to be able to prove to advertisers that their phone is ringing because of AdWords. But Google is ignoring advertisers who have sophisticated solutions on their websites that provide this data…such as many of my clients.