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Drive more calls to your business with Google AdWords ‘Call-Only’ Campaign

[ Edited ]
Top Contributor
# 1
Top Contributor

Call-only campaign type is one of those recent features in AdWords that have got huge potential to streamline one’s advertising strategies. If you are one of the businesses whose conversion journey starts or can start with a phone call, this new campaign is going to be of great help for you.


Let me first tell you what it does basically...


Google says - Call-only campaigns allow you to focus your ads only on getting more phone calls to your business. 


I will simplify it even further.


With call-only campaign you can have dedicated ad campaigns that target mobile devices, saying it more precisely, only those devices which have calling abilities. It means ads from such campaigns will not appear on devices like desktops or laptops. Isn’t it a great advantage?


Yes, it is, at least for my existing local clients at the moment. 


With Call-only campaigns, you do not need to worry about device bid adjustments any more to get more exposure on mobile phones specifically. Your ads would already be served on devices that can make phone calls, and absolutely not on the devices that can’t.


However, the option for device bid modifier still exist in the interface for this type of campaigns as well, I don’t think it’s of any use here. Like keyword tab in shopping ads?


Why to choose it?

I am sure you already have enough reasons by now. Still, to make it even easier for you to understand, let me tell you that with call-only campaigns you can bid for phone call clicks instead of clicks to your website.


The clicks on your ads will not take people to your landing page, rather it will take them to device’s phone dialling screen with your phone numbers already keyed in. It means you can expect (read get), more calls to your business.


Okay, that’s the theory part, let’s get into the actual interface now.




Points to note: 

  • Call-only is a sub-type for Search Network Only campaigns.
  • Your ads will appear on Google Search Network and on Partners Network, however you can opt out Partners Network if you would like.




Point to note:

  • Your ads will appear only on devices that support calls facility
  • No worries about selecting devices, it’s all pre configured




Points to note:

  • You have multiple bid strategies available for the campaign
  • You are already aware of these strategies as ‘flexible bidding strategies’
  • Google recommends ‘Maximize Clicks’ strategy and it’s the default setting for this campaign type. However, you always have the freedom to choose the strategy you want.




Points to note:

Business Name – The maximum character limit for the business name field is 25, and it’s not a required field. I am already running a call-only campaign but yet to test if it has any role in the ad.


Verification URL- It is basically the address of a webpage on the domain for the business you are advertising. Your verification URL should contain your phone number that you mentioned with the ad even if it is a Google forwarding number.


This field is an optional field at the moment, but Google says it can use it to verify that the phone number you enter for your ads matches the one for your business.


Most importantly, your domain for this URL must be the same as the domain of your display URL.


Destination URL – It’s not available with call-only campaign. Obviously because your ads are not going to lead to a landing page, it is going to take people directly to their phone’s dialling screen. (Yeppee! Google seems to have read my mind!  Thanks! Smiley Happy)


Call Extension ad Vs Call-only Campaign


Well, call extension is no doubt a great feature in AdWords. It offers almost everything that call-only campaign has to offer. To me, it offers a little more control. For instance, with call-extension you have options to show your website URL and the phone number, both, or just phone number with the ad.


You also have option to show your phone number on all devices, or you can simply get ahead to give more preference to mobile devices. But yes, preference does not guarantee that your ads will not appear on devices other than mobile.  With call-only campaigns, you can be sure that your ads will not appear on the devices that can’t make calls.


Now if you ask me to compare call-extension with call-only campaign, I will say – there shouldn’t be any comparison. Call-only campaigns makes phone-call oriented campaigns even easier. It does not lessen the importance or utility of call-extension at all.


However, the former is the winner for someone who knows what he/she is doing and who is quite conversant with how AdWords works and how different options are going to affect the performance.

Moreover, it is better for everyone expect for the people who depend heavily or solely on phone calls for their business and who do not want their ads to appear on desktops/laptops.


The latter (call-only campaign) is winner for the businesses which require talking to customers to generate leads and nurture them towards conversion.


Having said that, people who depend heavily or solely on phone calls for their business can still take benefits both from call-extension and from call-only campaigns.  How?


Well, you can’t avoid call-extension as they do generate calls even when your phone number is shown with your ads on devices other than mobile phones.  


Hence to me, there should NOT be any comparison, each of the two has its own benefits.


Call-Only Extension Vs Call-Only Campaign


Call–only extension is a normal call-extension with device preference selected to mobile devices. Remember, it’s the preference which means your ads can still appear on desktops. However, it will appear much more on mobile devices and is less-likely to appear on desktops if you have device preference checked.


With Call-Only Campaign, your ads will not appear on desktops, it will appear only on the devices that can make phone calls.


I am sure you know the difference now .


How to upgrade form Call-Only extension to Call-Only Campaign?



Our rising star @Eric Gehler  wrote an excellent article on this topic. Do give it a read to know how to upgrade.


Additionally, you can also read the help centre article here.


What would I use personally?


I would personally use both because it makes not much difference to me as to how my potential customers connect with me. Whether they call me up directly on phone with a simple touch on my ad or call button or they visit my website and fill in the enquiry form or place a call by entering my phone number manually on their device. I need leads and I can get it both ways.


Moreover, using both will make sure that I have more insightful data which I can use to make my future decisions for campaign optimizations even better.


I have already been using call-extension, and guess what? I started using call-only campaign today.

Here’s the screen-shot of the ad –



Early optimization suggestions


As this ad is not going to make people visit your website (obviously because such ads do not have destination URLs), the importance of landing page optimization will not play any role. It means your ads’ relevance to your keywords and the expected click through rate are going to be very important.


Hence, make sure that you are writing ad copies targeted to your keywords. Such ads do not have headline text either, so you have to do your best with the two lines of texts in descriptions. Keep it short, simple, yet targeted well to your goals.


Most importantly, do include a better call to action, as your ads my sometime appear without the ‘call’ button, however the click will lead to users’ phone screen.  


Remember, with call-only campaign, you are only a click away from your customers. The moment they click your ad and hit the ‘call/dial’ button on their phone, they will connect to your business. So much so that they won’t even need to enter the phone number manually, it will be on their dialling screen automatically once they choose to click your ad. So, get ahead and make the most of it.


Such ads also have ‘business name’ field and I have a gut-feeling that sometimes your business name may show in place of ad headline where usually your phone number appears with Call: as texts prefixed to it. However, there’s no official explanation on it.


Best way to test it without affecting your existing campaigns


My advice would be – do not stop your exiting call-extension setup in your existing campaigns and start with a new call-only campaign. I would also advise you not to cut the budgets of your existing campaigns for this one, instead add a few extra dollars to your daily budget and add these extra dollars to this brand new call-only campaign.


This way you can be sure that you are going to test a new thing without affecting your existing campaigns at all.


Are you ready to give it a try? 


To me, you must if you are using call-extension with your ads already.


Already tried? Do share your experience. I would love to know your feedback on the article. 


Ratan Jha


6 Expert replyverified_user

Re: Drive more calls to your business with ‘Call-Only’ Campaign

Community Manager
# 2
Community Manager
Thanks for sharing Ratan Jha!

Re: Drive more calls to your business with ‘Call-Only’ Campaign

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 3
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
Thanks for the write up Ratan, I have some queries here, perhaps you can throw some light on them.

1) Does clicking on the call now link/button generate a call directly or does the customer get the option to push the call button when they get taken to their calling screen?

2) If the latter, how does google count the clicks - call generated counts as a click or just viewing the number on the screen with the option to call counts as a click?

3) If possible share any preliminary numbers (if you're willing of course) what types of CTR you're seeing.

Many Thanks
Samrat Pasham

Re: Drive more calls to your business with ‘Call-Only’ Campaign

Top Contributor
# 4
Top Contributor

Thank you for your feedback @KathleenG  


@Samrat P I will come to questions now -


  1. It takes two clicks to get the call connected. Once someone clicks the ad, it takes them to their phone's dialling screen where the phone number associated with the ad is already keyed in, the user needs to press the calling button to get the call connected. 

  2. How does Google count clicks? Google counts a click once someone clicks the ads and lands to the dialling screen, in the same way like when somebody clicks your and lands at your landing page. 

    Now if you have Google Forwarding Number setup, Google can count the actual number calls for you because in this case Google knows when a call gets actually connected. But if you do not have a forwarding number, call-connection cannot actually be tracked for obvious reasons, and hence a click is counted as action.

  3. I would love to share insights from the campaign I am running, but Samrat, it would be too early for it. I started call-only campaigns yesterday only Smiley Happy 


Hope I could solve your queries.  Thanks for asking !


Ratan Jha

Re: Drive more calls to your business with ‘Call-Only’ Campaign

Badged Google Partner
# 5
Badged Google Partner

Thanks for pointing out the mistake/ Editor error on my article. I made the changes and for some reason I can't comment on my own article? So giving you props here and will add this post as a great reference topic at then end of my article

Re: Drive more calls to your business with ‘Call-Only’ Campaign

Top Contributor
# 6
Top Contributor

Never mind Eric, you have a great article already (I have it linked to my article above Smiley Happy ).


As the discussed feature is only 3-day old, some confusions were bound to surface initially. But you got it corrected.


And yes, you gave me a shout-out in your article. I think I got my reward Smiley Happy .


Thank you for your feedback. 


Ratan Jha

Re: Drive more calls to your business with ‘Call-Only’ Campaign

Collaborator ✭ ☆ ☆
# 7
Collaborator ✭ ☆ ☆
Very informative Ratan, good job Smiley Happy

Re: Drive more calls to your business with ‘Call-Only’ Campaign

Top Contributor
# 8
Top Contributor Smiley Happy
Tommy Sands, AdWords Top Contributor | Community Profile | Twitter | Philly Marketing Labs
Did you find any helpful responses or answers to your query? If yes, please mark it as the ‘Best Answer.’

Re: Drive more calls to your business with ‘Call-Only’ Campaign

Top Contributor
# 9
Top Contributor
Wow, nice work Ratan. I'll be giving this a read later!

ScottyD, AdWords Top Contributor
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Re: Drive more calls to your business with ‘Call-Only’ Campaign

Top Contributor
# 10
Top Contributor

Thank you everyone. @PPCBossman  thank you for sharing the link, I was not aware of it Smiley Happy .


Ratan Jha