Google Starts Charging for Call Tracking

Google’s free call tracking solution, AdWords Call Metrics, was introduced in November, 2010. I wrote about it at the time of launch. It allows users to add a local or toll-free number (provisioned by Google) to their AdWords campaigns.

I’m somewhat surprised that about five months later Google has started to charge $1 per completed call for PC advertisers. Here’s the “rate card”:

Click2Call ad on mobile devices are charged at the rate of whatever the keyword bid is; however an increasing number of advertisers are separating mobile and PC campaigns. And mobile keyword bids are growing, turning Click2Call into PPCall.

SVP of Google Advertising, Susan Wojcicki, said on Google’s last earnings call that the company had 500,000 Click2Call advertisers. She added that mobile-only C2C advertisers “are seeing an increase of 11.5% [response]” vs. “bundled mobile-desktop.”

It must be the case that AdWords call metrics is wildly successful and lots of marketers are using it. Otherwise I don’t think that Google would so quickly be imposing fees. Clearly Google has costs in provisioning the numbers but it’s still surprising.

How does this rate card compare to other call tracking vendors?

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16 Responses to “Google Starts Charging for Call Tracking”

  1. mike belasco says at

    $1 per call is crazy expensive. Roll your own call tracking for $1 per month per number and 1 cent per minute http://www.seoverflow.com/call-tracking/roll-your-own-phone-call-tracking-program-it-is-easy/

  2. Greg Sterling says at

    Why do you think they’ve started to charge when it was previously free?

  3. mike belasco says at

    Don’t know and it seems counterintuitive given free google voice, not to mention a great proof of value for google

  4. mike belasco says at

    Don’t know and it seems counterintuitive given free google voice, not to mention a great proof of value for google.

  5. Greg Sterling says at

    Yes, it’s unlike Google. I don’t think it will become any sort of profit center for the company but perhaps they’re being more sensitive to costs these days.

  6. Dave says at

    I think Mike is right $1 for tracking is expensive but this is $1 for what amounts to a “click” except that in many scenarios a call is worth more in terms of a lead than a click.

    With this and landing page preview Google can generate interest in a product or service without taking the searcher off of Google. The searcher can quickly call multiple providers without clicking and going to a website and then hitting the back button to get another option.

    And just wait until that $1 cost is biddable and in Ad Rank calculations.

  7. mike belasco says at

    Dave that makes sense, but still seems expensive

  8. Greg Sterling says at

    So you think this is perhaps an alternative way for Google to monetize an impression where there might be no click? If that’s correct shouldn’t the advertiser then get a quality score credit for the call?

  9. Mongoose Metrics says at

    Hi Greg — You’re always on top of the news! Thanks for the post. 

    Most call tracking vendors charge you per number and per minute and don’t get involved in the cost-per-action (CPA) side of selling the lead.  Selling a CPA call means you are essentially warrantying that the call is a lead, which in many cases is not true. It could just be someone looking to reach your business for support. 

    What do you think?

  10. Dave says at

    Greg,

    About your question on Quality score credit Google sent an email yesterday that has the following;

    “What’s next
    In the near future, calls to your Google forwarding number will be factored into Ad Rank calculations, which determine an ad’s position and cost per click. You’ll be able to influence your ad position by specifying a bid per call greater than $1.00 USD — similar to increasing your max CPC bid today.”

    if it is in Ad Rank it will somehow have to be assigned some value for a quality score. Whether this is a new QS ( visible or otherwise) or factored into current ones I have no idea.

    Dave

  11. Greg Sterling says at

    @Dave I was really talking about AdRank. So they are doing that. Interesting.

    @Mongoose . . . The problem of the call asking “are you open?” is one that Yext has tried to deal with by only billing for “genuine leads” based on call transcription and weeding out those type of calls.

  12. Rich "fastcall" Rosen says at

    Goog is not doing this for the revenue. There must be a spam issue. Somebody is gaming the system.

  13. Greg Sterling says at

    How might that spam manifest?

  14. Amin Haq says at

    So if a person wanted to “improve” their Quality Score they could in effect have multiple persons call their Google number. The math, i.e. paying Google $1/call versus the cost savings in improvement of QS would need to make sense. However, in highly competitive verticals the system could be gamed.

  15. Google Call Metrics Pricing: What PPC Advertisers Need to Know — Mongoose Metrics says at

    […] charging for calls placed to these tracking numbers. According to Greg Sterling, in a recent Screenwerk blog post: “It must be the case that AdWords Call Metrics is wildly successful and lots of marketers are […]

  16. Juhani Polkko says at

    $1 is dirt cheap for a call, it’s just the next step to teach the advertisers to think about calls in the same way as clicks. In the next few months we will see calls included in the AdWords bidding engine, showing the true value – i.e. what the advertiser is willing to pay, at maximum, for a lead.

    Why is $1 cheap? Simply because post-call conversion rates are in most cases as high as 15-50%. You almost never see that online (post-click).

    Depending on the industry, the true value of each call is between $3-$50. But pricing it very low is good to get a landslide of advertisers on board, ultimately bidding on the calls.

  17. chart3 says at

    Does anyone know how to gain expidited approval into Google’s Call Metrics feature? I’ve been waiting for 3-4 months for approval. Please email me at chart3(at)gmail(dot)com if you have any advice.

    Thanks

  18. Google to Build PPCall Marketplace says at

    […] now using Call Metrics costs advertisers $1 per completed call on the PC and nothing in mobile.  However this is merely laying the foundation for a PPCall marketplace on […]

  19. Google Enables Call Tracking From Mobile Landing Pages says at

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    […] the present the new tracking capability is free. On the PC Google charges $1 per completed call for its call tracking service. I’m speculating by analogy that Google may eventually charge a […]

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