Google released a mobile feature Thursday that allows advertisers to add a clickable local phone number to mobile paid search ads. The phone number appears as an additional line of text in the mobile paid-search ad at either the bottom or top of the search query page.
The phone number in the ad enables consumers to initiate a call to the business immediately, similar to the way the person might click through to the company's Web site.
Mobile phones running Google's Android or Apple's operating system support the ad service. AdWords recently added a feature that allows advertisers to specify the type of phone to run the paid-search ad. Paul Feng, Google group product manager for Mobile Ads, says Google ran a test with a handful of advertisers for several months. Online Media Daily first heard about the tests, to insert phone numbers and coupons in mobile ads, last week. "In some cases advertisers saw the overall success of the ads increase dramatically," he says. "The click-through rates on search ads increased up to 30%."
Paid-search ads will become a more important tool as companies attempt to gain space on the mobile screen. Search traffic continues to climb, and more people have begun to adopt smartphones that allow them to browse the Web easily. In fact, mobile search traffic has already grown five times within the past few years. Feng suggests the uptick -- driven by smartphones, such as Motorola's Droid, Apple's iPhone and Google's Nexus One -- should increase.
Internal data from Google suggests that consumers with iPhones search 50 times more than those with prior-generation phones. Bloomingdale's and Vegas.com, which have been running a variety of mobile ads, have seen click-through rates rise. Vegas.com has seen mobile ad click-through rates as high as 20%, prior to today's launch of the click-to-call feature.
The two-step process to show a click-to-call business phone number in ads on mobile devices with full Internet browsers requires AdWords advertisers to set up a local extension to add a business phone number and check that you chose to show the ad. From there, customers can click to call the business from the ad. If your campaigns are already set up this way, the phone numbers will display automatically.
Google will charge the same for click-to-call ads as the cost for a click to visit the business's Web site, according to Feng. The advertisers' bid remains unchanged. Advertisers make one cost-per-click (CPC) bid for calls and clicks to the Web site.