Google Introduces Call-Only Campaigns - Here's Why You Need Them


Earlier today, Google officially announced the launch of a new campaign type in AdWords known as Call-Only Campaigns.

Google Call-Only Campaigns screenshit

Call-Only Campaign ads look very similar to typical PPC ads, but they’re designed to encourage users to call the advertiser, rather than click on an ad and visit a landing page.

As you can see in the screenshot above, advertisers can enable the new ad type from within AdWords simply by selecting “Call-Only” from the Search Network ad settings page. This makes it even easier for users to actually call businesses using this ad format.

Yes, the business’s URL will still be displayed in Call-Only Campaign ads, but that’s not the focus. Google wants to remove any potential barriers between prospects and businesses using this ad format, and as you can see, these ads are pretty clickable.

Why Call-Only Campaigns?

What makes this strategy so brilliant is that Google is effectively removing the leakiest part of the conversion funnel for advertisers.

 Google Call-Only Campaigns conversion funnel diagram

In desktop PPC advertising, you pay for clicks that divert users to a landing page. The problem is that you’ll likely lose 19 out of 20 prospects you send to your landing pages, even if they’re highly optimized. Even then, half of the leads you do manage to capture from your landing pages will be junk, as you can only reach out to them so quickly after they submit their information.

With mobile, you capture 100% of the calls to leads, and you’re able to connect with them at the precise moment you need to – when they’re actively searching and ready to commit to a purchase. Based on the data in the figure above, we estimate that calls to a business are worth at least three times as much than clicks to websites, making this a powerful way to reach time-sensitive leads you may lose otherwise.

What's Different About AdWords Call-Only Campaigns?

One feature of Call-Only Campaign ads that’s so compelling is the fact that until now, advertisers had to go to the trouble of connecting existing ads to call extensions. Google’s Call-Only Campaigns streamlines the entire process by making this option available at the campaign level.

The new campaign type also means that you don't have to buy less-valuable desktop clicks if you don't want them, which wasn't possible before. Previously while it was possible to set up a regular search campaign with a call extension and force a call if either the Click-to-Call button or ad headline was clicked on, but the call extension only showed up in the very top ad spots. Thus, if your ad appeared in lower spots, your call extension might not show, resulting in clicks to your mobile site. 

I'll Be Trying Out AdWords Call-Only Campaigns, Will You?

Given that 2015 will finally be the year that mobile search volume exceeds that of desktop search, this is a shrewd move by Google. Why ask prospects to click on an ad only to be taken to a (potentially crappy) mobile landing page when you can encourage them to just click a button and talk to you?

By making it even easier for potential customers to speak to advertisers, Google stands to make a pretty penny into the bargain.


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Mike chrest
Feb 20, 2015

Seems like a good way to crank up business , especially for early adopter?

Feb 21, 2015

Awesome features launched by Google. Nice write-up.

Surely I am going to try this.

Feb 21, 2015

This should appeal to serious business people, as well as the older demographic on the net ... master stroke of brilliance from Google!

Elena Michnew
Feb 23, 2015

This can be perfect for clients who doesn`t have a responsive or mobile site. Mobile advertising will be much more fun with this campaign type.
Did you have the opportunity to measure results already?

Farzin A. Espahani
Feb 23, 2015

We have been using the "Just the phone number" feature of GAW's call extensions for a while now which is very similar to this "Call-Only-Campaign" feature. The main issue that we have is bunch of wrong calls. We are not sure if the problem is from Google's side or people click the wrong button on their mobile phones. 50%+ of the calls are wrong calls (calling for another business). I have contacted our Google Partners' agent and they said: "This is a good thing that your campaigns draw competitors calls"

D. Lee
Oct 15, 2015

We have experienced the same problem with people looking for other related business', after reviewing the actual search queries, it appears to be a problem with "voice queries" using Google, and how the search results are displayed that are causing the user/searcher confusion.

This is/could be a valuable tool, but its an expensive process unless Google can iron out the cut down on the wasted calls/clicks

As to the Google Partner response: That's "Classic Googleese".......

Nov 09, 2015

I've been having the same issues, albeit even more frustrating. Literally 75% of calls were irrelevant for the business. I have a bunch of negatives in my campaign, and all keywords are broad modified, phrase, and exact, but even the phrase match keywords were triggering irrelevant searches and my client was getting a lot of calls from people looking for something else. Long chat with Google, and in the end, their response was basically "just run exact match." Completely unhelpful.

Feb 25, 2015

Hi ,

Average conversion rate % is missing for the mobile conversion funnel image :)
Has anybody been experienced the good conversion rate % with the call only campaigns?


Feb 25, 2015

Great mod. Now how and where do I work this into my account? As it's campaign level, do I have to recreate other campaigns and turn them off?

How can I make this additive without doubling up keywords? I'd feel more comfortable adding it at the ad group level.


Mar 30, 2015

First of all, let me explain that I have been doing pay-per-click campaigns for 10 years, so I have a pretty good idea of what I am doing with ppc.

I am currently running a very granular, very sophisticated Call Only campaign using best practices.

So far, I have received four "calls" out of 1000 impressions (all ads at positions 2-3), and three of these "calls" were mistakes (people thought they were going to a site), and one of them was an actual call.

I do online marketing for a living, and this is what I've been advertising.

I was seriously thinking that Call Only campaigns might be something viable to offer client-types but, unless I see otherwise, there's no way in **ll that I'd recommend this type of program to a client. Maybe it's one of those programs that works for certain types of industries that people are used to calling.

Jun 23, 2015

We have been using these for a few months now. I would say the biggest problem is that you are charged for the clicks and not the calls. Nine out of ten clicks do not result in calls since the user clicks the ad but does not make the call. So factor in a 10-1 click to call ratio.

Augustin Gallion
Aug 12, 2015

The main issue I have been running into regards keyword specificity. I would recommend using exact phrase match depending on your industry. For my industry (IT Services & Support) I have had to repeatedly add negative keywords for companies like T Mobile and AT&T because our ads are appearing when someone Googles for their customer service/support line. We started realizing this when about 2/3 calls were for these companies and not ours.

Chris Powell
Aug 10, 2016

I have been running a campaign for a rehab facility and we are using pay per call ads. The campaign is set up well with a good history of negative keywords built up. Today I was charged over $600 for 19 clicks on our call ad, yet only one actual call came through, and with my call tracking, I can track calls even if they call for less than a second and hang up. I am highly suspicious of Google on this as it seems like potential fraud, yet they have no interest in doing anything about it. The rate of clicks to non call is way to high to be real, but when I try to discuss it with them, their response is that they don't guarantee calls, only clicks on the ads, which are impossible for us to verify. One more day like this and we are done with them.

Dec 20, 2017

I am not able to understand that which campaign should i run like Adwords Call Only or Adwords Express with Call only i am Targeting only in my City with particular Radius!

Let me help which one is good i wanna Generate lead but because of my Webiste taking long time to load Around 25 Sec + so looking to run only Call Ads

Which one is best let me know !!!!

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