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From Triumph to Tragedy, a Quality Score story

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# 1
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Over the past few months we've been getting serious about improving the quality score and CTR of our ad groups. We've done this mainly by creating smaller, more targetted ad groups, with ad text that closely matches the keywords in each ad group. This has been successful in both increasing quality score and CTR. Many ad groups went from mediocre quality scores , with scores as low as 3 or 4, to scores as high as 10 once they were broken up into smaller, more closely relevant ad groups.

 

Our average CTRs also went up nearly 20% overall, and we're getting a better ROI for our clients. Following Google's advice has been a lot of work but it has paid off in the end. Plus it was just nice to see all of those 10's in the quality score column, affirming that we had done things correctly. This was the triumph part. Now comes the tragedy.

 

Many of the new, smaller, higher-QS ad groups have low volume, sometimes as few as 10 clicks per month. This has not been a problem, until recently when an Adwords policy change disallowed the use of telephone numbers in ads. Our clients, for the most part, are very focused on phone calls. Phone calls are the main result they are seeking from Adwords, and calls directly from the ads form a very large proportion of their total calls. No problem, we thought; we'll just use call extensions instead.

 

The problem is that call extensions have a minimum number of clicks required per ad group before they will be shown. This minimum, I'm told is somewhere between 20 and 50 clicks per month. From our own observation, there are many ad groups that get 20 or 30 clicks per month that don't show call extensions. So in order to keep the calls coming in we are going to have to undo most of the work we have done to improve QS and CTR. We're going to have to re-combine all of our smaller ad groups into larger ones, and suffer the Quality Score and CTR penalties. It is frustrating to have to undo all this work, and its frustrating to explain to clients why the ROI gains we have made for them are going to have to be undone.

 

I was told by one Adwords rep that the reason for the minimum click requirement for an ad group to use call extensions was because some advertisers were abusing the Adwords-provided numbers and using the numbers for their own purposes, and that to combat the abuse the minimum clicks per ad group rule had been implemented.  Unfortunately, this rule seems to have been applied across the board, even to large advertisers such as us, and even to those using their own forwarding numbers. I've asked our rep if an exception can be made for our clients, who spend millions of dollars a year with Adwords and are definitely not abusing the call extension numbers. I offered to pay for the numbers ourselves. The expense would not be an issue. But they are not being flexible at all.

 

So we're faced with the prospect of doing tons of work to re-organize our ad groups into bigger, less-relevant ad groups. We're also faced with unhappy clients who have told us to move some of their budget away from Adwords to make up for the drop in calls.

 

I'd like to hear what the Adwords community has to say about this. I'm also hoping maybe some higher-ups in Adwords will see this and consider making it possible for advertisers like us who depend on phone calls to keep using the small, highly relevant ad groups that Google has been urging us to make for years.

 

 

 

 

2 Expert replyverified_user

Re: From Triumph to Tragedy, a Quality Score story

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# 2
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Hi HYSPPC, are you using Google Forwarding Numbers?  As far as I'm aware the "minimum click requirement" for Call Extensions only applies to Google numbers, not your own.  I think the Help centre is misleading.  As it happens I've just started a new Campaign this evening and I can see 9 clicks, 8 of which displayed the Call Extension, which does seem to prove there's no minimum click requirement.

 

Have you actually tried using a Call Extension on one of the low click Campaings?  It doesn't cost anything Smiley Happy

 

Jon

AdWords Top Contributor Google+ Profile | Partner Profile | AdWords Audits

Re: From Triumph to Tragedy, a Quality Score story

[ Edited ]
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# 3
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Jon;

I was thinking about the same... but, to my knowledge there is a minimum clicks for both numbers;

 

 

When you add a phone number to your ad, and enable call extensions, your phone number will appear as a clickable link on mobile phones. If you're using a Google forwarding number, your call extensions can also appear on desktop search. Keep in mind that your ad group will have to receive a minimum number of clicks to be able to show call extensions, and a minimum number of calls to show a Google forwarding number.

 

https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/1704420

Moshe, AdWords Top Contributor , Twitter | Linkedin | Community Profile | Ad-Globe
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Re: From Triumph to Tragedy, a Quality Score story

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# 4
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Thanks for the reply, Jon.

 

I've tried using both Google forwarding numbers and our own forwarding numbers. Makes no difference.

 

If this policy is to combat abuse of Google forwarding numbers, it seems like an oversight to apply it to advertisers using their own forwarding numbers. It also seems like an oversight to apply it to large advertisers spending lots of money who are clearly not trying to scam google out of some free phone minutes.

 

It doesn't seem like it is really in either Google's or the advertisers best interest to force such detrimental changes to large, active accounts just to save a few bucks on telephone charges. And anyway, we'd be more than happy to pay for any charges that accrued.

 

I'm hoping if more attention is brought to this situation that something will be done.

 

Re: From Triumph to Tragedy, a Quality Score story

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# 5
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Well, I think we need a definitive answer here.  The original blog post (admittedly 18 months old now) seems pretty clear that the limits only apply to 'bid-per-call' numbers:

 

http://adwords.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/introducing-bid-per-call-in-adwords.html

 

As I said, I personally am not seeing any limits and this post from the usually reliable searchengineland

 

http://searchengineland.com/google-says-no-to-phone-numbers-in-ppc-ads-forcing-the-use-of-call-exten...

 

Says in their update that Google says the limits don't apply to own numbers.

 

Silly question, but you are sure the Call Extensions were eligible to display?

 

Jon

AdWords Top Contributor Google+ Profile | Partner Profile | AdWords Audits

Re: From Triumph to Tragedy, a Quality Score story

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# 6
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Thanks for the links Jon. The bid-per-call option does not seem to be available any more in the accounts I manage. Is it still available in your account?

 

The searchengineland articles does indeed say "Apparently there is only a minimum click requirement to show call extensions if you are using the Google forwarding number." and this is what the first Adwords rep I talked to told me. However a different rep, an expert who we had a conference call meeting with, contradicted the first rep and say that the limits applied to all numbers. We did tests anyway to find out for sure, (on ad groups with plenty of impressions but less than 30 clicks), and we have not been able to get any call extensions to show up on these ad groups, even when we used our own forwarding number.

 

We've also made sure no other extensions were active, as we were told that having other active extensions could prevent the call extensions were showing.

 

When you say you're not seeing any limits, do you mean to say that you have low volume ad group in your account where the call extensions are showing?  I would love to find out that I have been wrong about this, and there is a way to get call extensions working on our low volume ad groups.

Re: From Triumph to Tragedy, a Quality Score story

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# 7
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Hi HYSPPC, yes, as I said in an earlier reply, when I first saw your message by pure good fortune I had just enabled a new Campaign with Call Extensions - own number, not Google forwarding.  At the time I wrote that earlier message the Campaign had received 16 clicks, 15 of which had shown the Call Extension.  At this time I have another slow volume Campaign that has only had 46 clicks in the last day or so, but which has shown their Call Extension 16 times.  This one might suggest that the Call Extensions started showing after 30 clicks, but since the Campaign only launched yesterday and you can't segment Call extension data by the hour, there's no way of knowing, it might just be a coincidence.

 

I'll escalate this thread and try and get an AdWords engineer to comment (I know there are some lurking around).  To be honest, although they do a sterling job, it wouldn't be the first time that Google support staff have misunderstood a setting or option and that you've already heard two conflicting opinions is only proof of this...

 

Jon

AdWords Top Contributor Google+ Profile | Partner Profile | AdWords Audits

Re: From Triumph to Tragedy, a Quality Score story

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# 8
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I wasn't aware there's a minimum click requirement for ad extensions. But I would not let this deter you. Just create ads that do get higher click rates. I think the right thing to do is concentrate on the keywords and ads, not whether the call extension will show or not. In the long run, it's better and will produce better results (better ROI). And as Jon pointed out, it's only for Google forwarding numbers, which I've never used and not your own number. In my opinion, having better campaigns will trump any ad extension which are there only to offer more contact information, not information pertaining to the offer. That's why I always advised, even before the days of ad extensions, to not put contact info in the ad.

 

I know call extensions will only show if your ads appear above the SERPs. And I don't believe they show each and every time. So in my opinion, the 16 times it did show out of 46 is a happy coincidence. I may be wrong but I don't recall ever seeing them for more than one advertiser so the rule may also be "only one ad will show an ad extension".

Re: From Triumph to Tragedy, a Quality Score story

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# 9
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Thanks again for your replies, Jon. I should clarify that the rep who told me about the minimim click requirement said it wasn't actually measured over a full month, but that clicks had to be coming in at a rate that would equal 20-50 a month or more. So if an ad group was steadily getting a click or two a day, that would be enough to trigger call extensions, without the ad group needing to run for an entire month. You mention a campaign that got only around 46 clicks in a day. I believe the minimum click volume requirement is per ad group, not per campaign, but if one ad group got 46 clicks in one day, it would definitely meet the volume requirement for call extensions to show.

 

I'm curious how you were able to tell how many times the Call Extension was shown, if you are using your own phone number. In the accounts I manage, when we use our own forwarding number, it does not show any phone impressions. The help box next to the phone impression column in the adwords interface (when viewing ad groups) says it only shows impressions for Google forwarding numbers. Is there some other place in the interface where you are able to see how many times your Call Extensions were shown?

 

My problem is with individual ad groups who have such a low volume of clicks that it may only get 20 or 30 clicks in a month, which is low enought that some days it would not receive a single click. After breaking up campaigns into smaller and more relevant ad groups over the past months, many ad groups are small enough that they do not consistently get more than 20 or 30 clicks per month. While the CTR and QS on these small ad groups is outstanding, the fact that they do not get call extension impressions makes them a poor value for our clients, who depend on phone calls, and used to get around half of their total phone calls directly from people calling the phone number shown in the ads.

 

 

 

 

Re: From Triumph to Tragedy, a Quality Score story

[ Edited ]
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# 10
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Thanks for replying Lucid. Your advice of just concentrating on keywords and ads and not worrying about call extensions may be good advice for some advertisers, but in our case, our clients only care about phone calls and nothing else. Up til now they've been able to get a very sizeable fraction (as much as half) of the calls they generated from PPC campaigns from callers who call the ads directly. So unfortunately, losing 50% of their calls by not having call extensions showing completely outweights the benefits of having tight, relevant ad groups with good ads and high CTRs.

 

"I know call extensions will only show if your ads appear above the SERPs" - This is not correct. You can use the ad preview tool and see advertisers who have call extension showing even on ads that are not at the top of the page. I just confirmed this for both desktop and mobile.

 

"only one ad will show an ad extension". This is also not correct.