Google Adwords Website Call Conversions vs. Current Call Tracking Vendors

adwords call extensions

Google shared another industry rumbling release this week with the launch of a free call tracking solution for Adwords users. As with every Google release, there is a lot of excitement and a lot of questions.

With Google now offering a free service that tracks call conversions in Adwords, agencies and advertisers might have less incentive to pay third party call tracking vendors for similar services.

However, given the limitations of Google’s recent expansion of Call Extensions to website call conversions, this feature is unlikely to put call tracking vendors out of business, here’s why.

What Google’s Website Call Conversions Does Well

Google forwarding numbers will be used to track calls coming from users who have first clicked the company’s ad. After setting up conversion tracking on the website using a code snippet, Google will replace the advertiser’s phone number that appears on the site with a Google forwarding number when an ad is clicked. The number shown on the site will be switched out every time someone clicks on an ad enabling calls to be tracked to the initiating ad and keyword.

Website Call Conversions is likely to become a popular new feature for many advertisers for several reasons:

  • Conversions are tracked whether a user clicks to call or dials the number from their phone.
  • The unique Google forwarding number displays for up to 90 days.
  • Phone numbers can be formatted to match the website design.
  • Advertisers can assign different values for calls from specific pages on their sites
  • These calls can be leveraged in Target CPA and Target ROAS flexible bid strategies.
  • Keyword level reporting is provided
  • Did we mention it’s free…

Limitations of Google’s Website Call Conversions

Adwords Only

The biggest limit to Google’s Website Call Conversions feature for agencies and advertisers is that it only works for AdWords. Most companies that use call tracking use it beyond Google AdWords, tracking calls from a variety of ad publishers, SEO, as well as traditional offline channels like television and radio. This gives the agency and advertiser a complete picture of which marketing efforts are the most driving calls.

No matter how much Google grows and improves their call tracking offering, the fact that it only covers AdWords puts this solution at a disadvantage when compared with other third party call tracking vendors.

This is good news for existing call tracking vendors.

No Call Recording

Generating calls and keeping track of which keywords attracted the most conversions is important, but advertisers want to hear the call to know if they are relevant to their business. This is the only way to truly know whether a call is a valid conversion.

Google’s Website Call Conversions does not share recordings of the phone calls. This is a big part of the services provided by current call tracking vendors. Most marketers and advertisers today know that not all calls are created equal. There are a lot of calls coming through on call tracking networks that are unrelated to any marketing initiative.

For example, let’s say the number Google generates for Pete’s flower shop is a recycled number previously used for Bob’s towing. If someone wrote down the number from Bob’s towing and called at a later date, Pete from the flower shop may receive a call meant for Bob. Add to this calls from spam, robots or wrong numbers and you are getting a bunch of false calls reported as conversions. These false calls will skew call counts and advertisers have no way of knowing this is happening because they cannot listen to the calls being made.

The ability to make call recordings available is crucial to reassuring advertisers of the quality of the service provided.

Other Limitations

There are three other limitations regarding Google’s new website call conversions.

  • Google’s Website Call Conversions feature is only available where Google forwarding numbers are available. This includes US, Australia, France, Germany, Spain, and the UK only.
  • In analytics, the complete phone number from calls received will not be shown
  • Google Website Call Conversions only support 1 800 numbers and will not work for local numbers.

What this all means

In the end, Google website call conversions use unique call forwarding numbers to provide granular insight into which keywords and campaigns bring in the most traffic. As a free tool, this is very valuable to agencies and advertisers, despite all the current limitations.

Thanks to Google’s call tracking limitations, current call tracking vendors can rest easy for at least another night. The limited scope of Google’s call tracking solution (Adwords only) means that multi publisher and multi channel call tracking will continue to thrive. In fact, call tracking vendors will even work with Google to generate phone numbers, so it seems that Google’s release is more of a friendly pairing than an industry disturbing rival for call tracking providers.


Jillian Zacchia

Jillian Zacchia

Jill is a professional writer, editor and social media procrastinator. With a degree in Literature and Communications from McGill, she started her journalism career writing about lifestyle and entertainment for teen magazines, and after dabbling with wedding and travel writing she began the transition towards content creation for start ups, marketing and tech companies.

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