Google Announces Important Update to Call and Location Extensions

Google recently announced a significant change regarding how phone numbers will be displayed in search ads as of January 19, 2017. For advertisers using both call and location extensions, phone numbers from the business location listing may now be used even if it differs from the call extension phone number.

WHAT IS HAPPENING?

In an email that Google sent out to advertisers, they revealed that a location-specific phone number (pulled from the Google My Business Listing) may be used instead of the phone number from the call extension, if location extensions are also active. Ultimately that means specific business locations might start seeing a shift in phone calls that were previously directed to a different number used for tracking.

Google extensions
Screenshot from official Google AdWords email

WHO WILL THIS IMPACT AND TO WHAT DEGREE?

This update will affect every AdWords account that has active call and location extensions. However, the impact will be greatest for advertisers who rely on a central phone number for call tracking and conversion reporting and are not equipped for calls at each location.

But how much of an impact will this update actually make? Google says this will not affect overall call volume. Until the change goes into an affect, it’s impossible to know to what degree performance will be affected. However, it will play into account optimization and measurement strategies for advertisers who rely on phone calls.

WHAT DOES THIS REALLY MEAN?

According to Search Engine Land, Google claims the purpose of this change is to increase the relevance of ads by showing a more specific phone number, particularly for searches with a highly local intent. Unfortunately, this poses problems for advertisers that use call tracking as calls directed to business listing phone numbers will not be compatible with conversion tracking within AdWords.

WHAT ARE THE OPTIONS?

As of now, options are slim for those who wish to continue as things were. A first step would be to ensure all phone numbers tied to a business listing are accurate. Google did provide a link to opt out of this change, but they caveat it with, “we do not recommend this as it may reduce your ad impressions and call volume, while making it difficult for users to reach you.”

One option for advertisers who cannot handle additional call volume at individual locations and/or do not want to lose conversion tracking, is to disable location extensions. This would ensure call extensions will keep functioning as is. However, removing this ad extension could affect performance and user experience.

WHAT SHOULD EVERY MARKETER KNOW?

The changes to Google’s call extensions could disrupt conversion tracking, business operations, and optimization of AdWords campaigns for brands with multiple locations. For now, advertisers will need to decide whether changing the destination of calls and tracking abilities trumps using location extensions in search ads. Google only recently made the announcement, so stay tuned for more info!

SOURCE: Search Engine Land

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