Pay-per-Call: Google Introduces “Call-Only” AdWords Units

Recognizing the importance of calls to local and many national merchants, Google is allowing AdWords advertisers now to bid on “Call Only” ads. This was discovered by Philly Marketing Labs. Here’s the official blog post.

Advertisers can use a Google tracking number or their own (as in call extensions). Previously Google required a landing page or website to enable a click-through. These ads only provide an option to call a business.

Google Call-Only Ads

The ads show a phone number and a call button. Google says that advertisers who only want calls should use this format and can bid exclusively on calls.

Previously AdWords clicks or calls (via call extensions) were billed as clicks. Marketers paid the same price regardless of whether users called or clicked when the calls option launched several years ago.

Google Call Only ads

Google’s belief at the time is that savvy marketers would start bidding up the value of those clicks because it was really calls they were after, which are inherently much more valuable than clicks. But by not creating a pure pay-per-call (PPCall) unit at the time Google sidestepped issues around call quality or duration.

Marchex previously estimated that mobile call extensions were a roughly $4 billion revenue driver for Google (and Bing) in 2014. In 2013 Google said that 70% of mobile searches have used the click-to-call button. Local services was the largest category generating calls at the time.

Now (or finally) Google has created a pure PPCall offering. While this meets the needs of advertisers who want calls and want to avoid clicks or worrying about landing pages, it’s probably also intended to boost the pricing of those ads by getting marketers to use call value as the bid calculus.

9 Responses to “Pay-per-Call: Google Introduces “Call-Only” AdWords Units”

  1. Ryan says:

    Hasn’t this feature been here since last year?

  2. Greg Sterling says:

    May have been but just discovered. Google’s only now announcing it.

  3. Greg Sterling says:

    Call extensions have been around for a long time of course.

  4. gene says:

    What do you suppose this means for the Marchex’s of the world… disintermediation by Google?

  5. Greg Sterling says:

    Not the end of Marchex’s world. Otherwise you’d have to say that for all call-tracking companies.

  6. Yuval says:

    Even more than a year later, this feature is still impressive.
    The best part is Google were able to create a seamless funnel were a user presses on an ad and it opens the dialer without any landing page.
    We at are especially interested in harnessing this functionality to the max and are always on the lookout for individuals who can use it.
    Ping me for details on Skype: yuval.goojibear

  7. Justin says:

    Even now in 2017 this functionality is becoming more robust and mainstream. However, small businesses, the ones that need this the most, are unaware of how this can help them. Here at we have figured out the most effective ways to utilize this feature and are happy to help others.

  8. Jamie says:

    Hi Justin,

    Where in Google Adwords tools do you find the average cost per call so I can set my margin when charging clients?

  9. Trevor Weir says:

    Jaime, you can specifically see Call data by going to keywords, then clicking on the columns tab, then modify then from the drop list table, choose Call Details.

    But you will notice there is no specific Avg Cost per Call. You might have to use the Cost Per Click Column average because it appears to include both the call and those who click but then don’t call.

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