Google Ads Now Lets You Bid for More Calls

New ‘bid adjustments’ from Google Ads (AdWords) let you pay to encourage more calls

Google began a limited rollout of an Ads update yesterday that allows users to adjust their bids in order to influence how often their click-to-call ad extensions appear. Google plans to expand this update to all users by the end of the year, touting it as part of the service’s “new Ads experience” redesign.

Using these call bid adjustments, users can modify their ad bid anywhere from -90 percent to +900 percent – a higher adjustment means your phone info is more likely to be shown as a click-to-call extension in ad, or less likely with a lower adjustment. Calls are also now listed under an “Interactions” header in the redesigned Ads interface, which means we’ll likely see similar bid-adjustment features soon for other search result info, such as your business address.

“For example, if you’re a travel advertiser, you may see higher order values from calls because it can be easier to cross-sell rental cars, group tours and other vacation add-ons during a live conversation,” Google said in a press release announcing the feature. “Raise your call bid adjustments to show call extensions more frequently and drive more of these high-value call conversions.”

Ads users could previously make similar adjustments in a “Call-Only Campaign,” which only shows ads that allow the recipient to call a business rather than click through to a website. (In place of cost-per-click, advertisers would instead pay on a cost-per-call basis.) With this update advertisers can now have the best of both worlds — an ad that can both drive web traffic and calls at the same time.

Google points to user demand as the motivating factor behind the creation of bid adjustments, saying that advertisers are hungry for ways to drive more phone calls. And there’s good reason for them to be excited: According to Google’s internal data cited in the announcement, “calls convert three times better than web clicks.” Essentially, Google Ads users can now pay a PPC premium on mobile click-to-call ads, with the understanding that these ads drive more high-quality leads and more conversions.

The debate over the marketing value of clicks and calls is often presented as an either-or, past-versus-future dichotomy, in which advertisers have to pick a side and favor one channel over the other. But as Google’s own research has shown, calls have been and will continue to be a reliable way to generate leads and conversions, and should be an integral part of any marketer’s strategy.