New Phone Verification for Google Ads (formerly AdWords) Call Extension
Yesterday Google announced that all advertisers using Ads call extensions and location extensions would need to verify phone number ownership beginning June 2015. The exact wording of the announcement is as follows:
Starting in June 2015, we’ll begin requiring verification of ownership for all call extension and location extension phone numbers, in addition to our existing call extensions and location extensions Ads policies. Call extensions and location extensions that do not meet this policy will be disapproved.
The twittersphere has been abuzz about the new change, and our friends over at Search Engine Land were quick to point out that this isn’t news for Ads customers already using Google’s new call-only ads, launched February 20th. While there’s always interesting speculation about Google’s motives for making a significant change like this, it’s crystal clear why requiring this extra phone number verification step is a win for advertisers and searchers alike.
So What’s Google’s Goal Here?
Since Ads’ inception Google has been laser focused on providing value to advertisers while giving searchers the most reliable, trustworthy information in search results. After all, that’s why we keep coming back to Google to search. Much of this focus has been geared around website visits to URLs. With the advent of Click-to-Call, Call Extensions, and now Call-Only campaigns, Google is adapting its products for the new age when nearly half of all searches are performed on a smartphone.
New Phone Number Verification Is All About Preventing Misrepresentation
Should an advertiser on Ads be able to include, for example, a URL in their ad that displays (and lands at) CallRail.com, but includes a phone number that does not? As a marketer at a company that uses Google Ads, I hope this sort of misrepresentation wouldn’t be allowed. As an everyday searcher on Google, I wouldn’t keep coming back if I clicked-to-call on an ad that rang a phone number unrelated to the business represented in the ad.
The possibility for misrepresentation without this verification ranges from unintentional to fraudulent. For example, an agent or broker of a national insurance brand like State Farm might not think there’s any problem putting www.statefarm.com in her Ads’ ads and activating click-to-call to ring her cell phone. State Farm corporate might have a different opinion and a searcher may think they’re calling the company and not a broker.
On the fraudulent side, there’s countless examples. Think of seeing an ad with the link www.bankofamerica.com in but with a call extension phone number that rings at your local scam artist needing some banking account information for “verification purposes.” It’s these sorts of malicious phishing attacks that will be more difficult with the new phone number verification.
Google Gives 3rd Party Call Tracking the Green Light
Perhaps most important for many of our customers and other marketers using full-service call tracking to measure click-to-call’s from Ads, Google’s announcement is a vote of confidence. In explaining the options for verifying the phone number, Google added this note:
Note: If you’re using 3rd party call tracking you can still use options 2 and 3 to verify your numbers. If applicable, your account team may update your account’s verification status on your behalf.
What this means for all of us who use call tracking is that Google is finally, if tacitly, endorsing the use of 3rd party call tracking. This change reflects an elevation of the call tracking industry within the marketing landscape to one long shared by bid management platforms and other tools that Google has built their products around supporting.
I’m excited about this change. I think it’s a great move on Google’s part and opens the door to more reliable and trustworthy information from our favorite search engine.