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Billed Calls vs Actual Calls.What is the norm?

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 1
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

We began testing a pay-per-call (ONLY)  last week as a pilot to a national campaign.

We secured a virgin 800 number for testing. We realize this sample is still small but the numbers are so out-of-line that we had to pause to seek guidance.


The short of it is that we are seeing 3-4 clicks charged for every actual call.


Dates: Jan 3 – 10

Google Reporting

Total Click-to-calls charged:   56

Cost:                                        $442.69

Avg CPC:                               $    7.91


Actual Data

Total calls received: 19

Real cost per actual call: $23 (2.9 times CPC)

Clicks vs actual calls: 33%


Duplicate back-to-back calls < 1 min: 3

Actual unique calls: 16

Calls charged vs unique calls: 28%


I called Adwords to ask what is the expected ratio of clicks to calls so that we can adjust bids accordingly, and is this normal. We received this email:


“I have talked to quite a few members of my team, and unfortunately, we do not have any numbers surrounding the situation when a user clicks on the link to call but doesn't actually call.  I really wish we were able to provide some data around this, but it is not available.”


I really can’t believe it! Can anyone give me some light?


We are blind. Call metrics are not available as here:

We followed the steps and Call Details is not an option (and we do not have auto-bidding in place which was the environment when Call Details would not be available.)

1 Expert replyverified_user

Re: Billed Calls vs Actual Calls.What is the norm?

[ Edited ]
Badged Google Partner
# 2
Badged Google Partner

Would this be an accurate summary of the situation:


The 800 number is a number used specifically for adwords advertising, nothing else.

You are using click to call only as the call extension setting.


In that case, the next step is to go over your campaign settings - 


I take it you are only targeting mobile devices, but what kind of mobile devices? For example, an ipod touch is a mobile device as per the device settings, but since it is not capable of making a phone call, any clicks from that device will be clicks through to the website.


Carrier settings are another thing to consider. If you have wifi networks enabled as an option, even if the device is capable of making a phone call, if that device is connecting through a wifi connection, then it can't make a call through the wifi network. So even a smartphone capable of making a call may generate clicks through to the website if it's connecting to the internet through a carrier which cannot complete a call.


There's another potential issue as well - How many initiated click to call clicks are actually intended phone calls? This is a user behavior issue, and one of the reasons why I'm no longer as certain whether the benefits of call only outweigh the risks. If a call could be completed on the device, through the connecting network, but the user thinks that clicking on the headline will result in a click through to the website, how do they react when their phone initiates a call? You are still charged for that click, even if the initiated call was unintentional. Just as you are still charged for a click even if the visit to the website results in a bounce.


Double check your specific device and carrier settings, and see if maybe you can tighten those settings up to reduce the number of headline clicks. Then make sure your ads for the campaign make it clear that clicking on the ad will result in a phone call to your business. See if that helps cut down on your unintended initiated mobile click to call clicks.


As an aside, using call metrics without click to call only - For our highest call generating client over the last thirty days - I am seeing about a 53% recieved mobile calls to initiated click to call clicks ratio. Again, not click to call only, and certainly not 100%, but it's a little closer ratio than 60-75%. 


One more thing, if google call metrics are not available yet, you may want to look into some third party call tracking software, that is designed to work with adwords and or google analytics. At one time there were some specific vendors reccomended on inside adwords, but I can't find it anymore. Smiley Sad Perhaps one of the TC's could make a reccomendation?




Re: Billed Calls vs Actual Calls.What is the norm?

Top Contributor
# 3
Top Contributor

Hello there;

I agree with Tom that this is mainly users' behavior;

After a user clicks on the number or the phone icon / button ( now more common), he/she is asked to confirm a "call initiation" (Android devices). At that point a user can "bounce" / leave...


As for the wi-fi - in Europe a call is initiated as long as a device is capable of making cellular calls. That makes sense since users are (most of the time) connected for data on WIFI, while for calls and texting, connected on a cellular carrier network. I know that the (Adwords mobile) setting is the US is different, and you could target a cellular provider (e.g. ATT), but it seems unlikely to me, that while your Smartphone is connected to your home wifi, you cannot order a delivery using click to call.




Moshe, AdWords Top Contributor , Twitter | Linkedin | Community Profile | Ad-Globe
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Re: Billed Calls vs Actual Calls.What is the norm?

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 4
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Thanks for your ideas Tom. Yes, we are only using this 800 number for this campaign so we have good data on our end.

Re “wifi” - I opted out of wifi networks but not until the last day. We are displaying only on smart phones (no pads) and only on carriers. We will see if this makes a difference.


Re “user behavior” – I am an android user and understand the second click required to call. I also suspect that there is a learning curve for the searches to get conditioned that clicking on the title “call 800-#####” will prompt a call and not a web page. But it’s just hard to believe that it takes 3-4 unintended clicks to get one for REAL. That is what I was seeking here. What are other’s seeing? I appreciate you sharing your 60-75% experience. That is double what we are seeing so I am checking everything you mentioned. I read others reporting 50-60% and even one manager of clients reporting near 100%. ?!? I think we could live with even 50%.


There are only a couple of competitors that do Call Only in our space and none have a mobile ready site (which we do). Our business models are the same. We are averaging the 2 position. We should easily compete for tip position, but there is no way they could afford it if they are seeing numbers like ours.


Next we will test a regular ad with a call extension and compare. I have a request in for Google to check why we don’t have call details available. I assume you have metrics for each call in adwords?


Looking ahead: I would make sense for Google to eliminate call only. It doesn’t seem to server the user well. Regular ads can’t compete with the higher click-to-call bids. I believe they have it this way 1) it’s more profitable and 2) it complex to fix it properly and will take time. That would be to have two bids in the same ad. One for a title click to page and one (higher for a click to call extension.) But, I’m a newb. Maybe I don’t understand enough yet.

Re: Billed Calls vs Actual Calls.What is the norm?

Badged Google Partner
# 5
Badged Google Partner

The devices and carriers situation is perhaps the easiest thing to "fix", but no gaurantee that those options will completely eliminate the problem. Something to consider at least... Smiley Happy


I too am an android user, and now I am wondering if android devices are the main culprit for unintended calls. Because android is a google property, it seems possible there is are unintended call safeguards in place to prevent click to call click charges for unintended calls (?). Do iPhones call immediately after the click (any iphone users?), or windows phones, etc.? Aside from user behavior, each device may be different as well. I haven't yet gone so far, but what if you set up an android only campaign, and compared the results to all devices other than android? It's a lot of work, but the results would certainly be interesting. Smiley Happy Then you could continue the process from the most to least highly used devices and see what the click to call clicks to actual calls ratio's were. Although, that's if you had some call tracking that could verify calls per campaign, and not just a designated adwords line. (forgot about that for a moment) Hopefully one of the TC's could recommend some third party call tracking software that they use (mongoose, or the like?), and perhaps that might help provide some actionable information.


As far as the clicks to call to calls ratio, 50% is the best of the best, and a very specific situation. It has taken over a year of optimization to get to that point, and is only possible because of the specific situation. However, that is a case where users are given the choice between headline clicks and click to call. I would double-check the analysis of anyone who says they've found a way to get a 100% ratio. As you have found out, even if 100% of the clicks for the campaign are click to call clicks, without some way to track phone calls, you don't know if 100% of those click to call clicks were actually received, intended phone calls. Smiley Happy


If you do have a mobile friendly site, there are other options. If the goal of the advertising is to get a phone call you could try:


Standard call extensions with click to call as an option (not click to call only), then make sure there is also a click to call button on the landing page. You can use adwords conversion tracking code to track the number of click to call clicks from clicks on the click to call number/button on the site - That number may not be the 800 number you are using as a dedicated adwords line, but may help you track some of the phone calls you receive via Google cpc as a traffic source. Then you would just have to look at the conversions data to see the number of adwords to website click to call calls (in total, regardless of campaign). I would think that fewer (if any) of those mobile landing page click to call clicks would actually be unintended, as compared to click to call clicks on a click to call only ad.


"Track conversions on a mobile site with a phone number" section:


"I have a request in for Google to check why we don’t have call details available. I assume you have metrics for each call in adwords?"


I live in, and have a US adwords interface. Call metrics which are available when using a google call forwarding number for call extensions has been available in the US for around a year now.  Call metrics data is NOT available for standard, non-google ofrwarding number call extensions. If you have the option of selecting a google call forwarding number, then you can get the call metrics data avaialble from the call details report in the dimensions tab, and campaign segments. If you don't have the option to select a google call forwarding number, then the call metrics data may not be available in your area yet. Of course, call metrics is a whole other situation... Smiley Happy


I completely agree that click to call only is a far more complex tool than it would seem. I felt differently a year ago, but a lot has changed since then. Smiley Happy Moshe also seems to agree that perhaps the user behavior is still an issue at this point. Of course, not every option available in adwords "works" for every advertiser's situation. I know I don't want to lose the options and tools that work for me, or our clients, but others feel differently. Just because an option is available, and seems like a winner for you and your situation, doesn't mean that it will be. The only way to know for sure is to test, and analyze until you find something that works for you, then continue to optimize to acheive more of your goals for an increasingly higher ROAS. Smiley Happy


As far as the two bids for one ad - That is a part of call metrics. You can have both a max CPC (or CPA) bid, and a max CPP (cost per call, for manually dialed calls) bid. However, that duel-bid scenario only applies to non-mobile device / manually dialed calls / search networks CPP bids. Since standard call extensions are only eligible to show on mobile devices capable of making a phone call, the only bid you have is the max CPC / CPA (or for mobile app ads on display networks CPM) bid. Even with call metrics, I can't bid any higher for a CPP bid for a mobile device ad than the adgroup max bid. So, yes, there is a duel-bidding scenario which is possible with call metrics, but it does not apply to mobile devices.


I could talk about this adwords call stuff all day captain, and love every minute of it! Smiley Happy I still have a lot to learn, but if I can help at all, and you want to continue to talk about it, by all means please do!



Re: Billed Calls vs Actual Calls.What is the norm?

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 6
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

My January bill was for 355 mobile click to calls, but my Dimesions report shows only 155 and 42 of those were under 30 seconds (many 0). I hope someone can answer our questions as I can not get an answer from Google. 

Re: Billed Calls vs Actual Calls.What is the norm?

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 7
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
I believe my problem is from click (call) fraud. My January bill was for 355 mobile click to calls, but my Dimesions report shows only 155 and 42 of those were under 30 seconds (many 0 secs). I hope someone can answer our questions as I can not get an answer from Google.