Google’s Advanced Call Reporting– What to know

by Jessica Michaels

Google serves as the solution to so many of our everyday needs. Whether you’re looking for a dinner recipe, concert tickets, or helping your kids with their homework, all you need to do is “google it” and within seconds you have the world at your fingertips.

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Google has also played a huge roll in the advertising world with the creation of Google Adwords. With typical advertising channels, it’s almost like fishing: you’re just casting your ad out into a pond full of fish and you’re just hoping that those fish want your type of bait. However with Google Adwords you’re able to target people who are directly searching for your product, eliminating the waste of advertising to people who have no interest in what you have to offer. So if you sell TVs, you’re only casting your line into a pond full of fish actively looking to purchase a new TV.

With the evolution of Google Analytics and AdWords we are now able to know statistics and demographics that are advanced compared to what information was available 20 years ago. For example Google Analytics and Adwords can tell us:

  • what ad copy (ad text) was clicked
  • the keyword searched
  • how long a visitor was on each page
  • how many pages the visitor clicked on/visited
  • the device they used
  • the viewer’s demographics

With Google Adwords you only pay for what people click (PPC). Ideally someone searches one of your keywords that triggers your ad, they click the ad and then purchase your product creating a 100% conversion rate. However that’s the perfect scenario, and in reality the average conversion rate is 2-5% not even close to 100%. In order to get the most ROI, marketers will take the information from the visitor who converted and optimize their ad and website with the goal of achieving an even higher conversion rate in the future. This can be done by a business owner or they can hire an expert who specializes in analyzing and optimizing this information.

However, there has traditionally been a major flaw in these PPC campaigns: there’s not a way to measure the phone calls that resulted from your ads. Meaning that you could have an AdWords campaign running that is driving in dozens of clicks but aren’t resulting in any offline (phone) conversions.

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There are many industries where it’s not realistic to fill out an interest form or make an online purchase: for example a plumber. If you’re in need of a plumber you’re not going to fill out an interest form and wait for them to get back to you, you’re going to want/need to get them on the phone and over to your residence ASAP.

The phone calls that are driven from clicks on your PPC ads aren’t tracked by Google or any of the other search engines, which causes major holes in analyzing and reporting. The demand for call tracking and call reporting has lead to the birth of call tracking companies like CallTrackingMetrics and also extensions to the search engines like Google Voice’s Call Forwarding and Google’s Advanced Call Reporting. Google Voice came out with it’s call forwarding a few years back, it comes equipped with the capabilities of:

  • porting numbers
  • transcribing voicemails
  • ring to one phone or six phones
  • personalized greetings
  • call schedules
  • free calling (not international)

Advanced call reporting for ad extensions is Google’s newest baby with the capability of reporting on the call you receive through call extensions, offering basic details like:

  • call start and end time
  • call area code
  • whether the call was answered or not
  • call duration
  • call conversions

With the release of Google’s advanced call reporting, many ask the question “how do call tracking companies like CallTrackingMetrics measure up to Google’s call reporting?”

With CallTrackingMetrics integration with Google CallTrackingMetrics is able to report the following information for each of your phone calls:

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  • campaign the visitor came through
  • ad group the visitor came through
  • source of the call (google, bing, paid, organic, social, offline etc etc)
  • medium the visitor came through
  • keyword they used
  • ad match type
  • the ad they clicked on
  • ad position
  • the users IP address
  • the numbers the viewer was able to see
  • the landing page they came in on
  • the last recorded URL they were on before they placed the call

In addition, outside of our Google Integration, our service provides general call tracking features like call recording, geo routing, call queues, IVR menu’s and the ability to capture the caller’s number, name and address. Google isn’t able to provide any of the above information, their system is only able to capture the area code of the caller rather than the whole phone number.

Google's call tracking data
Image taken from Googles help doc on advanced reporting

Other areas that separate us from Google is with CallTrackingMetrics you own your numbers. Yes, both CallTrackingMetrics and Google offer dynamic swapping, however with Google it’s pulling a number from it’s database and you don’t own that number- meaning that same number will be shared between thousands of businesses. With CallTrackingMetrics you purchase your tracking numbers for a low monthly fee and that number is yours. All our numbers go through months of cleaning to ensure your tracking number isn’t attached to any other businesses.

With CallTrackingMetrics you’re able to track past the call extension in your ad copy, while Google’s advanced call reporting only allows tracking for the call extension. Once the viewer has clicked the ad, Google call tracking is no longer available. You have the capability to include a Google call forwarding number on your landing page but there is no way for that call to be tracked back to the ad.

One of the biggest arguments is that Google advanced call reporting is free. Which is true to some extent. Yes, it is free until someone clicks the call button, at that point you are billed the same as PPC click. So depending on your cost per click which typically ranges from pennies to up to double digit numbers, Googles call forwarding might not be that cost efficient way for you.

Lets break the down just a little more:

Say it costs $5 per click to call and you have 10 calls per month. With Google service that would be $50.00 for those calls. With CallTrackingMetrics, even assuming the call was an hour long at .04 per minute X 60 minutes X 10 calls plus $1.50 monthly fee = $25.50, half the price of Google.

Google’s forwarding is also only available in 7 countries being: Australia, France, Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom, Sweden and the United States. CallTrackingMetrics offers call tracking numbers in over 30 countries worldwide.

Lastly the biggest difference between CallTrackingMetrics and Google’s advanced forwarding numbers is that with CallTrackingMetrics you’re not limited to only tracking the call extension in your ad copy as a source. With CallTrackingMetrics you can track just about any advertising channel you can imagine (Organic, Paid, Display, Social, Print, TV etc.)

this is an example of an adwords ad copy
This is an example of an AdWords ad copy with call extension

We hope this is helpful to break down the differences between Google’s call tracking solution and ours. We think Google is great and they do a fantastic job providing businesses large and small the ability to compete online on a level playing field. While their call tracking solution on the surface looks like a great deal, we would recommend you take a closer look to ensure you are getting the details you really need to make smart advertising decisions.