What Are Call-Only Ads in Google?

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You may have heard of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising in Google. It allows you to display paid ads at the top of relevant search results that promote your business.

After users click on a PPC ad, they arrive on landing pages where they can convert.

But not all paid search ads are alike. One type of PPC ad you may not have tried before is call-only ads. If your current goal is to drive phone calls rather than website traffic, call-only ads are the way to go, as they’re optimal for driving calls to your business.

But what are call-only ads, and how do they work? We’ll provide an in-depth overview of Google call ads below, so read on to learn more. Then consider partnering with WebFX — the digital marketing agency with over 775 client testimonials — for your PPC services needs.

Just call us at 888-601-5359 or contact us online today to get started!

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What are call-only ads?

Call-only ads are a type of paid search ad in Google that focuses on driving phone calls. 

Whereas most paid ads direct users to a landing page, call-only ads do not. Instead, they pull up the company’s phone number in autodial, at which point the user clicks the “call” button.



The function of call-only ads allows them to only appear on devices that can make phone calls — mobile phones, typically. The ad copy focuses on the phone number and often includes a phrase like “call now.”

Paid call ads are valuable for reaching users who need immediate service. For instance, if your car breaks down, you don’t want to spend fifteen minutes browsing different sites for a tow truck — you’ll probably call the first tow truck phone number you see in search results.

Optimizing Google call ads

While you may be familiar with the necessary steps to optimize regular paid ads, call-only ad optimization is different. Here are some of the main features you can use to change the performance of your ads. 


Headlines — the primary, hyperlinked ad copy — are an essential part of your ads. When you set them up, you have the option of making them say whatever you want or simply leaving them blank. While leaving the headline blank might not sound smart, it’s a valuable tactic.

On the one hand, using a custom headline can help ensure that your ads communicate the right message. On the other hand, it’s hard to know if your custom headline will get cut off when it appears on a particular device.

Leaving the headline blank will cause Google to autofill it with your phone number, and you can guarantee that it won’t get cut off on any device. It’s up to you which approach you take — often, the best choice is to A/B test both options to see which performs better for your business. 

Ad extensions

Ad extensions — additional pieces of information you can tack on to your ads — aren’t unique to call-only ads. You may have used them in your regular campaigns as well — and there are advantages to using them in your paid call ads.

The main benefit of ad extensions for call-only ads is that they can make your ads take up more space on the page. Since users will be in a hurry, many of them will click the first ad they see — and the bigger your ad is, the better a chance it has of catching their eye.

Google forwarding numbers (GFNs)

Google forwarding numbers (GFNs) are a feature unique to call-only ads. Instead of using your business phone number in your ads, you can use a GFN. When users click the ad, they’ll be calling the GFN instead of your regular number.

A GFN will still route users back to your regular number, but since the number they dialed is different, you can distinguish them from non-ad-based calls. That lets you see how many phone calls specific ads drive. In other words, GFNs are an excellent tool for call tracking.

You can use GFNs by enabling call reporting in Google Ads.

How to set up paid call ads in Google

Setting up Google call ads is a simple process. To start with, make sure you have a Google Ads account. If you want to create a new campaign for your call ads, go ahead and do that. 

Once you’re ready to set up the ads, follow the steps below:

  1. Go to your Google Ads dashboard and click “Ads” in the type list.
  2. Select “Call ads” and then click “Create ad.”
  3. Choose a campaign and ad group you want to use for your ad.
  4. Fill out the necessary information to create your ad, including a headline and description.
  5. If you want to use a GFN, check the box to enable “call reporting” and then submit.

That’s it! Once you work through those steps, your first call-only ad will be up and running.

3 tips for improving your call-only ad campaigns

If you want the best results from your paid call ads, you can implement a few different tactics to boost their performance. Here are three ways to generate more successful call-only ad campaigns!

1. Target call-based keywords

As with standard PPC ads, call-only ads require you to bid on specific keywords. And just like with standard PPC, you need to target highly relevant keywords with your ads.

That doesn’t just mean targeting keywords that relate to your business — it also means aiming for keywords that match the search intent behind call-only ads.

For example, “plumber in Jacksonville” would be a good call-based keyword because a plumber is someone many people will want to call in response to an immediate issue. But if you sell decorative smartphone cases, you may have less success with a call-only ad for your products. 

2. Schedule your ads for optimal times

Another way to improve your ads’ performance is to schedule them strategically. First and foremost, be sure you only display your ads during business hours — encouraging calls while there’s no one to answer the phone won’t be good for business.

Similarly, if particular days or times attract the most business, focus your ad frequency on those times. Someone might need a plumber at any time, but people are more likely to call about restaurant reservations around lunch and dinner than at 7 AM.

3. Use location targeting

Finally, a fantastic way to improve your call-only ads further is to use location targeting — in other words, to target them to users in specific geographical regions. Location targeting is a good strategy for paid ads in general, but particularly for call ads.

If people call you seeking immediate assistance, it’s unlikely they’ll be doing so from an area far away from you. They’ll want someone in their immediate area. So, using location targeting helps you reach the most relevant audience.

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WebFX can give your paid call ads a boost

Need a hand getting your paid ads off the ground? WebFX would love to help you out! Our team of over 300 digital marketing experts knows PPC — including call-only ads — inside and out, and we can drive top-tier results for your campaigns.

With our PPC services, you’ll get help optimizing for all the tips listed above and more. You’ll also receive a dedicated account representative to be your chief point of contact on everything we do for you.

To get started with us, call us at 888-601-5359 or contact us online today!