Google launches Call Metrics

09 Nov 2011
By Stacy

Here at atom42, we are great believers in tracking everything we do – it’s why we love the online space. So, you can imagine the excitement we felt last week when Google announced they were launching their call metrics feature in the UK, allowing advertisers to track phone calls from their PPC ads, and report on them through the Google Adwords interface.

What is ‘call metrics’?

Simply put, it’s a call forwarding system, which allows Google to track how many calls users make from your PPC ads (either from manually typing numbers they see in a desktop ad, or clicking on a mobile click-to-call ad).

Enabling call metrics in your PPC account will allow you to see a variety of metrics alongside click data in the Adwords interface, including:

• The number of phone calls
• Phone number impressions
• A new metric called phone through rate (PTR)

You can also see more granular, call-related data such as call duration, area code of caller and call status (missed/taken etc).

This is a great leap forward for Google, allowing them to start competing with other call tracking providers, with the added bonus of Adwords integration.

Comparing the market for call metrics

Other providers need not worry just yet, however. Although Google will undoubtedly get there eventually, their offering isn’t quite market leading. For a start, it’s pretty expensive – at £1 per call for the advertiser (for calls from a desktop/laptop), this could add a fair amount to low CPAs. There is also the obvious downside which is that it only works for Adwords – whereas other suppliers integrate their technology with other channels such as online directories/organic sources/non-Google PPC sources.

Finally, a major limitation of Google’s Call Metrics is that tracked numbers are, like the current ad extensions, allocated on a campaign level. As a search specialist, it would be far more beneficial to see calls on a keyword level so that we can make more granular decisions – and this is something other providers offer.

‘Bid-Per-Call’ – sneaky or sensible?

Google, as always, have ways of making advertisers want to use their products, despite the negatives. In this case, they have introduced the Bid-Per-Call feature – which will only be available if you are also using Call Metrics. Bid-Per-Call allows advertisers to set a separate bid per phone call. For most advertisers, a phone call is one step further down the conversion funnel, so this bid is likely to be significantly higher than a click bid.

As someone who has previously sneaked phone numbers into PPC ads, I can tell you that my click through rate or ‘CTR’ (and therefore Quality Score) has been affected by the phone number itself taking up precious characters in my creative, which has had a negative effect on my CPCs.

Bid-Per-Call, combined with Call Metrics, will allow a phone number to sit outside the 25,35,35 character limit on desktops (as with the click to call feature on mobile), and will also aid quality score (oh yes, phone bids will contribute to overall quality score) – which could put any advertisers who don’t use the product at an immediate disadvantage. Sneaky.

Potential for success

Flaws and all, I think the Call Metrics system is worth testing as long as the £1 call charge doesn’t put you at an immediate risk of missing any CPA targets (the theory being that the higher conversion rate of a call should negate this cost). It won’t revolutionise my PPC campaigns (we already use keyword level call tracking here at atom42), but it will be interesting, all the same. Bid-Per-Call though, has the potential to be a game changer – watch this space!

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