Google Adwords offers a mobile ad option that instigates a call when someone selects your ad (rather than a click taking the user to a designated web address). This option is called “Call-Only”. In an industry where people are more likely to dial than fill out a form, your campaign is incomplete without a call-only ad.
Google Adwords allows advertisers to create ad groups that are targeted to different platforms. For example, you could have one ad group that is only for people on desktop computers. Another ad group could be for mobile devices. Your ad language and functionality should be slightly different depending on the device your users are on.
The concept of pay-per-call is nothing new, nor is it a Google invention. The first widely used pay-per-call platform (as best we can tell) goes back to a since-acquired company called Ingenio.
Ingenio was founded in 1999. In 2006, the company struck a deal with Microsoft's former search engine Live.com to run pay-per-call ads.
Our parent company, Adviatech, used the service to promote its search engine marketing plans back then. Ingenio hosted a page where Adviatech got to show off its SEO successes and give some information about its services and the company history. This ad would show after people searched for keywords like “search engine optimization.”
There was understandably no way for the customers to get to Adviatech's website, as all ads funneled prospects to the tracked phone number. And when someone called, Adviatech paid.
The cost per call was around $30, which led to some frustration when people would call and ask questions like, “What can you do for $50 a month?” or spouted the dreaded, “Sorry, wrong number.” The experiment was eventually dropped for internal marketing efforts. Ingenio was later acquired by AT&T in 2008 to become part of their online Yellow Pages offerings.
Mobile traffic was the big missing element for Ingenio in 2006. While cell phones had web browsers since the late '90s, they were clunky at best for more than a decade. No standards existed, many cell phone manufacturers fancied themselves operating system developers, and the smartest smart phone on the street was whatever Blackberry was offering.
Then, in 2007, the iPhone was released, followed by Google's Android operating system in 2008. Tablets and iPads hit the market. Now, we live in a world where 50 percent of all search traffic on Google comes from a mobile device.
Unlike the Ingenio pay-per-call model, Google allows you to keep your regular phone number (optional tracking numbers are available) with the Adwords “Call-Only” ads. You can show off your law firm's URL and let people instigate a phone call from your ad, while you pay the normal cost-per-click (CPC) of whatever keyword the prospective client used.
Google gets to benefit from an advanced mobile world that didn't exist for Ingenio. That, in turn, has allowed them to create an ad option that does pay-per-call the right way.