Over the last few years, we’ve watched Google continually release AdWords features that reflect the significant role phone calls play in the digital customer journey. Last week, they announced two new changes regarding location extensions and automated call extensions.

Invoca works closely with Google to bring digital advertisers powerful call intelligence to their paid search efforts through our Google Analytics integration, Invoca for AdWords, and Tracking Numbers for Google My Business. If you use these Invoca features or are planning to, we want to ensure you have all the information you need to make the best decision when responding to these changes.

What’s Changing with Location Extensions

Beginning January 19th, AdWords will display local ads with the local phone number from that advertiser’s Google My Business account, regardless of how their call extensions are set up. If you’re using a call tracking phone number, that number will not appear with your ads in the local SERP with your location extensions.

It’s important to note that this change only affects ads when location extensions are shown. WordStream explains, “local extensions only appear when a user is relatively close to that location. Call extensions will still appear unchanged when location extensions do not show, which is the overwhelming majority of the time.”

Here is the official Google announcement:

AdWords Local Extension

What Does This Mean if I Use Invoca with Call Extensions?

Local advertisers who frequently show location extensions may start to see more calls going to their Google My Business phone number rather than their call extension number. Whenever a location extension is shown, the call will ring directly to the number specified in Google My Business. In these cases, the phone call won’t be directed through the Invoca Google Call Extension Number, and therefore these calls cannot be reported within Invoca.

Several search advertising experts have noted the drawback of this change for advertisers who drive a significant volume of calls from local search ads, as they will lose the ability track these calls. This will make reporting and optimization more difficult, and advertisers whose goal is to drive local calls will feel the negative impact.

What Should I Do About This Change?

Invoca recommends you opt out of this change by completing this form that Google has made available to all their advertisers. You need to do this by January 19th, 2017, as the change will take effect this date.

By opting out, you are ensuring your continued ability to track calls and optimize based on the keywords and other metadata that Invoca provides. If you don’t opt out, you also run the risk of receiving an overwhelming volume of calls ringing directly to your business via the location extension phone number, instead of calls running through Invoca as normal and routing to your call center or other desired destination.

Here is the opt-out form.

Google Introduces Automated Call Extensions

Google has also announced that starting February 6th they will introduce a new feature called Automated Call Extensions. This feature impacts advertisers that do not yet use call extensions but have a strong call-to-action to place a phone call. In these cases, Google will pull the phone number from the advertiser’s landing page and automatically create a call extension that forwards calls to that landing page phone number.

Invoca recommends that our customers opt out of automated call extensions, so you can continue to easily track and report on calls within Invoca. With automated call extensions, it is uncertain what landing page number AdWords will read and display in your ad if you’re using Invoca on your landing pages. Our concern is the potential to lose the call tracking ability should Google present the wrong number in those call extensions.  We want all our customers to continue getting granular attribution for phone calls, as well as the advanced data we offer such as demographic data, voice signal data, and more.

Here are instructions on how to opt-out:

  • Select “View: Automated extensions report”
  • Scroll down to “Automated extension options (advanced)” and click “Edit”
  • Uncheck the option for “Automatic call extensions” under “Do not use specific automated extensions in this account”

AdWords automated call extension

If you are a customer, please reach out with questions to your customer success manager or email questions@invoca.com.

Sean Storlie

Posted by Sean Storlie

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