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A Year Later Even Google Surprised By Success Of Click-To-Call

A year since its introduction even Google is surprised by how successful “Click to Call” has become. “We’re seeing millions of calls every month; it has become a core part of a large number mobile search ad campaigns,” said Google’s Surojit Chatterjee who is in charge of the product.

That same phrase — millions of calls — was also mentioned by Google Product SVP Jonathan Rosenberg on the company’s most recent earnings call: “Click-to-Call ads are generating millions of calls every month. A lot of advertisers are running these campaigns.”

Apparently, it’s a lot more than “a lot of advertisers.”

Google doesn’t want to say exactly or otherwise quantify that success, as is typical for the Mountain View company. Let’s just say that where there were no Click to Call revenues a year ago, there are now very meaningful revenues flowing to Google from these mobile ad units.

I asked Chatterjee about the geographic distribution of calls. He said the product is available around the world but that call volumes “follow the growth of smartphones.” That means lots of calls in North America and Europe. “We are seeing a lot of movement in Japan,” he added.

Click to Call ads rely on Google AdWords phone extensions and are available on paid search and display ads in mobile. Phone extensions can also be combined with location extensions, which together dynamically insert a phone number and map plus-box into mobile ads.

In many cases Google is serving mobile ads that are precisely targeted by location and showing a business that is the closest to the user. “We’ve seen really good performance on these hyper local ads,” said Chatterjee.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Google recently introduced “call only creative.” Here the only option for the mobile user is to make a call. These ads are intended to allow marketers to drive calls to a call center (in most instances) though they can also be directed to a specific business location.

Chatterjee and I spoke about the behavioral differences between PC and mobile search users. Echoing data and statements made by Microsoft, among others, Chatterjee observed, “Mobile users are more prone to take immediate action. People searching on mobile have a higher intent. The time between intent and action has been narrowed.”

As a pure matter of quality, Click to Call ads may be a compelling way to capture better leads in selected categories regardless of whether you’re a national or local advertiser or whether you have physical stores or not.

In the way that people clicking on search ads are “raising their hands,” people calling are expressing an even stronger interest and intent. So while mobile and Click to Call are typically associated with location and physical stores, marketers can use Click to Call in cases where a live conversation is required to close a sale. These in-bound calls can be tracked and recorded as well, creating more insight and transparency for the marketer.

Google referred me to Razorfish and Vijay Malavia whose client, security firm ADT, has done a good deal of Click to Call advertising. Malavia told me that he has been “impressed” generally by the range of mobile search ad options that Google is now offering: location extensions, map plus-box, coupons and so on.

He added that in terms of Click to Call specifically the “lead to appointment range is higher than with other types of prospects.”

Even in the security category, which you wouldn’t necessarily consider mobile-friendly, Malavia said he has seen a 200 percent increase in searches. “Almost 10 percent of the searches for the top 200 [security] terms are coming from a mobile device,” explained Malavia. “And 12 percent of page views are coming from mobile.”

Asked about search cannibalization he echoed what Google has thus far reported. “Mobile queries index higher on off peak hours and weekends. We see mobile as additive,” he said.

Google’s Chatterjee told me that the company has seen more and more advertisers embracing Click to Call and optimizing campaigns for mobile devices, independent of their PC campaigns. “These advertisers are getting such warm leads; they’re increasing spending on Click to Call and mobile,” he said.

The versatility and flexibility of Click to Call, as well as results, make it an ad format that search marketers should investigate and test if they aren’t already doing so. Like the early days of search there are opportunities to play at a time of somewhat less competition and lower cost. But that won’t last much longer.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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