Google to Start Charging for Some Adwords Phone Extension Calls

Google offers a service to adwords advertisers — phone extensions and call metrics — in which Google places a phone number in the Adwords ad that, when called, is routed to the advertiser’s phone. Because these calls are from a separate number that Google provides, adwords advertisers are able to easily track exactly how many calls they receive as a result of their ad, in addition to the traffic they get.

Up until now, this service was offered for free to adwords advertisers; however, that will be changing somewhat starting in May.

  • If a user calls the Google phone number in the ad extension by dialing it on their phone, the adwords advertiser will now be charged $1 per phone call.
  • If users call by using click-to-dial from a mobile phone, the advertiser will not be charged anything extra, and instead will just pay the per click fee.

Basically this change allows Google to monetize traffic it’s sending to advertisers that doesn’t come with any kind of a click. Previously any calls via the Google phone number were essentially free traffic — there was no click so there was no pay per click fee involved. Now those calls will come with a price tag, but in any situation in which the advertiser has to pay for the click, then there is no additional fee for the use of the Google phone number.

I certainly think if you’ve reached the point that a potential customer is actually calling you (much better than just sending traffic to your site — someone who calls is far more likely to convert into a customer) paying a dollar is well worth it. But it will be interesting to see if some users abandon the Google phone number in favor for putting their own number in the ads to avoid paying extra for those calls.

One of the concerns with using the Google phone number that many companies have is they want their customers to know their phone number — they want their customers to become repeat customers and call back, and tell their friends. One potential danger of paying for manually dialed calls to the Google phone number is that customers could save that first number they call, and thereafter every time they call for follow-ups or additional purchases the adwords advertiser could end up paying that $1.00 over and over.