Google Disallows Phone Numbers in PPC Ads

Posted on March 29, 2013

Google Disallows Phone Numbers in PPC Ads

Google just recently announced that, starting April, they would no longer be allowing phone numbers in PPC ad text. Anyone who wishes to include a phone number with a PPC ad must instead make use of the call extensions feature.

Google’s call extensions feature allows phone numbers to be displayed without taking up precious ad text space, while providing the groundwork for added functionality. On desktops and tablet devices, ads with the call extensions feature enabled will display a phone number separate from the ad text, while users on smartphones will see a “Call” button that they can use to directly contact said business. There are a restrictions on the type of numbers you can use, such as no vanity numbers or “premium” numbers beginning with 900, and they are subject to approval by Google, just like the ad text itself.

According to Google, this move is part of Google’s efforts to ensure a safer and more consistent user experience across desktop, mobile, and tablet devices, but observers have noticed that this move also allows them to charge for mobile ad engagements by charging advertisers a standard click fee whenever someone uses the “Call” button to place a call to the business. Previously, advertisers were able to get around Google’s click-to-call fees by including a telephone number in the ad text. This change closes that loophole, thus allowing Google to charge for mobile ad engagements.

This means that small businesses and advertisers will now need to take the cost of call extensions into consideration when planning their PPC budgets. Additionally, if you are using a Google forwarding number, your ad group must receive a minimum number of clicks and calls before the number will show.

Interestingly enough, Google recommends that call extensions are best used for businesses that have a “national service center” or businesses that aren’t tied to a single specific location, implying that they won’t work well for local businesses. Google has not yet given clarification on this statement.