Google And Marin Converge Search And Offline Call Metrics
Moving the advertising industry into the next phase of accountability, Google and Marin Technologies released separate platforms this week integrating call center activity with search engine marketing. The platforms allow marketers to aggregate online and offline metrics from paid-search ads all the way down to the keywords with call center revenue.
Marin Software on Thursday will release CallTrack, an open platform to optimize paid-search campaigns and maximize call center activity and purchases. It works with automated bidding, spits out reports, and works with existing in-house and third-party call tracking solutions.
The compatibility with other systems allows marketers to connect with existing investments in call-tracking software. Marin also partnered with Century Interactive, Clickpath, MarchEx Call Analytics, and Mongoose Metrics.
Online search marketers historically have struggled to measure the effectiveness of paid-search programs that drive leads to a call center. Tracking a pixel only tells half the story behind the online conversion.
Advertisers can use CallTrack with other types of advertising aside from search, but Matt Lawson, vice president of marketing for Marin, says search provides the greatest challenges because campaigns have multiple bids.
Lawson points to keywords like "auto insurance online" that might have a higher conversion rate on the Web, but says "auto insurance" might perform better overall when factoring in people who come to the Web site and then purchase the insurance on the phone.
Click on a keyword in a paid-search ad that lands the searcher on an advertiser's Web site with a telephone number. The number the searcher calls can tell the advertiser the keywords typed into the search engine to get to the advertisement. The call length is also logged. A report gets generated and the data sent back to Marin where marketers have a complete picture of the entire conversion process.
Announced earlier this week, Google's AdWords Call Metric takes advertisers beyond online conversions and clicks into metrics for campaigns that advertisers have had a difficult time quantifying. The Google Voice phone number automatically assigned to the ad generates data such as duration of the call, time made, geographic location and more.
The phone number is inserted into the ad on both desktop and high-end mobile devices, where the number is clickable. The platform counts calls and identifies them as they come in. It gives advertisers another metric to monitor campaigns.
Once advertisers can identify where the calls come from, they can refine marketing strategies to get the most from the ads. It also makes it easier to test different ad text variations to see which results in the most calls or reallocate budget to campaigns that truly bring you the highest ROI.
"This tool allows advertisers to measure the quality of the call," says Surojit Chatterjee, Google senior product manager for AdWords. "Some advertisers such as insurance companies have very complex sales cycles. Consumers typically call these companies before making a decision."
The service, available to a limited number of U.S. advertisers, should become available to more in the coming months. The National Republican Congressional Committee tapped Google's AdWords call metrics on the day of the midterm elections, making it easier for voters to connect with them. The furniture retail store Room & Board also became an earlier adopter.
Bill Dinan, president at Telmetrics, which also provides call tracking, believes the "limits" go far beyond the number of U.S. advertisers to whom Google now offers the service, and into limited data that Google will offer advertisers. More call data helps legitimize calls.
"There are some challenges with Google's self-serve model as SMBs and merchants will still need full service intermediary support from agencies and publishers to understand the data and use it to optimize their operational and ad programs," Dinan says.
He says limited call data may do more harm than good, and without providing detailed information from the call, advertisers will be left wondering about the true value and what it all means, "especially when calls are being measured and reported by a company that has a vested interest in the call volume being 'high.'"
Today, Google doesn't charge for the service, but in the future that might change.