Correction: A previous version of this story suggested call metrics will only apply to click-to-call mobile ads. The metrics will actually apply to both click-to-call ads on mobile devices and to desktop search ads incorporating phone numbers through the product.
In a further attempt to demonstrate the potential of its search advertising products to marketers, Google has announced trials of a system that links unique phone numbers in search ads directly with the phone leads and offline actions it generates.
The program, dubbed call metrics, assigns each mobile ad with a unique phone number which is automatically inserted into pay-per-click ads displayed on mobile devices and in search ads on desktop machines. When a user dials the number or clicks it on a mobile device, the call is routed to the advertiser and call metrics will track the search terms that preceded the call, as well as more detailed information such as the call duration and caller area code.
Google says the product will help marketers more accurately attribute offline actions such as in-store purchases with online search ad campaigns.
In a blog post published yesterday, Surojit Chatterjee, senior product manager for Google AdWords, said the product will help marketers refine their strategies to make sure they're getting the most from their ads. "For example, you could 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," he wrote.
Call metrics is only currently available to a limited number of U.S. advertisers, but Chatterjee said it will be rolled out to more over the next couple of months. At present, call metrics is free - and advertisers involved in the tests will only be charged for clicks their ads - but Google says it plans to charge for the product in future. The technology for the program has been adapted from its Google Voice product.
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Jack Marshall was a staff writer and stats editor for ClickZ News from 2007 until August 2011.
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