Limitations of AdWords Call Metrics

By Amanda Sides | Dec 30, 2010
More Articles by Amanda


Last month, I wrote about the new Google AdWords call metrics feature, and my hopes and dreams for the possibilities it could potentially bring.  After using the reporting feature for about a month now, I wanted to report on some of the limitations I’ve found with it, ways to get around those limitations, and changes I hope to soon see from AdWords.

Limitation #1. You can currently only see data at the campaign level.  While the information regarding call data is definitely helpful to have specific to each campaign, it would be even better if you could get this information down to the ad group, or better yet, the keyword level.  If Google can give you a number unique to each campaign… why can’t we have one for each ad group?

Solution: Update your campaign structure.  Create smaller, more targeted campaigns so that you can have more granularity with tracking this call information until more features are rolled out for call metrics. I have a feeling that this level of detail might be available once a paid version is available in the future.

Limitation #2. Call metrics data doesn’t appear to be available in My Client Center automated reporting.  Within a client center, when creating and scheduling reports, it appears that no available columns are devoted to call metrics data.  This is not a major complication, but it does seem odd that it is not listed as a conversion-type to include within your reports.

Solution: Start scheduling your reports within the campaign-view.  Since you can customize your columns in your campaign-view to include call metrics data, from now on I would download and schedule reports in this view so you can see your call data next to the rest of your spend and conversion data.  (Note: There are still some restrictions with call metrics data in this reporting format. See below.)

Limitation #3. Call data from call metrics reporting is not included in the conversion total, and therefore may skew your conversion data. By being recorded separately, this may cause the calls to cannibalize your conversions.  This may be a problem with certain campaigns or conversion types, but not all.  A call may not be considered a lead for some, while it is for other types of advertisers.

Say your conversion is defined as a lead, and the searcher calls and becomes a lead instead of clicking through to the site, the action will be recorded as a call, but not a conversion within AdWords.  For these types of advertisers, you can expect to see a decrease in tracked conversions, being skewed by the increase of calls recorded.

Solution: When reporting, keep in mind that the declines in conversion totals, and increases and cost per conversion may be skewed due to some conversions being counted as calls after the feature is put into use.  You can verbally make clients aware of this, or manually update reports to include an overall total for conversion data, including the AdWords-defined conversions as well as calls into overall columns.

Limitation #4. AdWords will track calls made with the Google Voice number that shows with the ad… But what happens if the searcher clicks through, and calls the number provided on the site and doesn’t fill out the form?  This would be tracked as a lead or a call internally with your client, but not within your AdWords account.  This means you will still need to check with your client when it comes to reporting to get the lead data that they’ve recorded, since it will likely not match the call data within your AdWords account.

Solution: Why not replace the phone number residing on your landing pages with the same campaign-specific phone number provided by Google Voice?  This way, if the searcher clicks through to your landing page, then calls and becomes a lead, it will still be tracked right there in your AdWords account.  To learn more on setting this up, see Janet Driscoll Miller’s post from a few weeks ago on the topic.

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If anyone else is currently using call metrics, please let me know if you are seeing any other limitations with the tracking or reporting of the data. Comment below or reach out on Twitter @amandadchaney.


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