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The Pro’s and Con’s of Creating a “Call Only” AdWords Campaign.

It was over a year ago now when I first tried to create a click-to-call - call only campaign. Since that time, it seems as though there may very well be more con’s than pro’s, when it comes to trying to create a call only campaign. If you are currently trying to create a call only campaign – Keep these things in mind:


More Phone Calls To Your Business:


Pro: Click to call only may very well generate more click-to-call clicks from mobile devices for your AdWords campaigns. If phone calls are the goal of these campaigns, you may think: “Awesome! More phone calls is exactly what I want – How could there possibly be any con’s to that!”


Con: A click-to-call click is just that, a click which initiated a phone call. That does not mean that the click-to-call click was intentional, or that a phone call was completed or received. When you use click-to-call only, any click on the ad will result in an initiated call. If the user’s intent was to click through to the website by clicking on the headline of the ad, an initiated unintended phone call may provide a “bad user experience”.  Not only may you not get the call, you may get charged for a click which didn’t even result in a visit to the website.


The Solution:


There are several things you can do to try and prevent unintentional initiated click-to-call clicks.

1. Device targeting. Selecting all mobile devices is not enough to create a click to call only campaign. Devices such as an iPod Touch are an example of mobile devices which are capable of searching the internet, but not capable of making a phone call. Remember that your device targeting at the campaign level determines what devices your ads can show on, and the call extensions settings determine how your ads are displayed when a call extension is shown. If you target all mobile devices, then ads still may show on devices that are not capable of making a phone call – Regardless of the call extension settings.


2. A call extension must be shown with the ad. If your ad rank is not high enough to show a call extension, or another ad extension(s) is (are) shown in lieu of your call extension, then none of those clicks will result in a click-to-call. If you are trying to create a call only campaign, then make sure your call extension is your only ad extension. In addition, don’t try to “low-ball” your bids for this campaign. Find out what an acceptable cost per call is, and bid accordingly. Then segment the campaign by device, and click type to see what the ratio of mobile impressions to mobile click-to-call impressions is. Every impression for a mobile device over the the number of click-to-call impressions are impressions that could not possibly result in a click-to-call click.


3. Target only carriers capable of processing a phone call. In most cases, if a wi-fi network is available, then odds are that a carrier (cell phone service provider) network is also available. However, if the mobile device capable of making a call cannot make a call is only connecting to the internet through a wi-fi connection, then that device will not be able to initiate a call from the ad. There are so few instances where this may be an issue, the potential impression share that could be lost due to opting out of wi-fi is minimal. Consider opting out of wi-fi as a safeguard to prevent any more impressions that could not

meet your goal of a call only campaign.


In Conclusion:


Just because an option or tool is available in AdWords, doesn’t mean you have to use that option. Trying to create a call only campaign with a 100% ratio of total clicks : click-to-call clicks, and 100% of those clicks resulting in intended completed phone calls may not be a possibility. After all, when do 100% of the clicks on your AdWords ads result in a goal completion (with any kind of volume)? If you still want to experiment with creating a call only campaign, by all means do! Just remember that AdWords advertising is always an ongoing process, and try not to get frustrated if you don’t immediately get the results you desire. 


(If I am mistaken in any of my assumptions, please do correct me in the comments below!)

about Tom Hale, Jr.

I began my part time apprenticeship at our family SEM business in 2005, and became a full time account manager in June of 2010.

January 2013

Thanks for the article  tomhalejr!


There is a white paper I read a long time a go (Feb. 2009) titled "Call for Prices": Strategic Implications of Raising Consumers' Costs'.  Very interesting read!


I personally would love if the rolled out the Click to Chat beta to everyone.  I just used that to by a new Alienware from Dell last week.

Mini-CM Community Manager
January 2013

Good article. Thanks Tom. 

January 2013

Good article, thanks.


Every industry is different, I would invest in call tracking and setup a unique phone number for just mobile calls and analyze. 


A good way to see if its working is to see how long calls are lasting. Call recording will help even more.



April 2013

Good article on an important subject.


The problem is, you can't really create a "Call Only" adgroup to bid based on the value per call. There is no way to prevent headline clicks at the higher bid when the call extension doesn't show. Now that enhanced campaigns prevent us from targeting mobile separate from desktop, the issue if even more complicated.


I wish we could create adgroups that would only allow call clicks for 100% of the impressions.

April 2013
Je ne sais pas si je suis convaincu
May 2013
No one has convinced me however but it’s been wonderful reading the comments.