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Summary:

Google is finding a significant boost from a new mobile ad tool — click-to-call — that’s providing an important lesson on the power of online interaction to prompt offline actions. It is been a boost in helping Google achieve a $1 billion run rate in mobile.

googleclicktocall ad-blog

In October, Google crowed about its mobile business hitting a $1 billion run rate, though much of that is assumed to be mobile search advertising, an offshoot of Google’s biggest business online. But Google’s mobile revenues are also finding a significant boost from a new ad tool — click-to-call — that’s providing an important lesson on the power of online interaction to prompt offline actions, especially for mobile users.

The new ad tool — which allows users to click on a phone number to connect directly to a business — has been on a tear since debuting in January. Google said over the last three months, the number of Google advertisers using phone extensions on mobile has grown by an average of 28 percent month-over-month globally. Hundreds of thousands of advertisers are using phone extensions now, which have resulted in millions of calls a month via search and display ads. The feature is helping prove the power of mobile search advertising and how mobile users are more intent driven.

Surojit Chatterjee, senior product manager of mobile ads for Google, said campaigns with the click-to-call feature report 6-8 percent higher click-through rates than ads that don’t have it. He said for a feature that rolled out less than a year ago, click-to-call is having a meaningful impact with both advertisers and users. He said it also proves how much more focused mobile users are on fulfilling immediate actions. “On mobile phones, people are looking for things they can act on immediately,” Chatterjee said. “It shows that mobile users, if they find the right ad, they will act on it.”

Advertisers are seeing results. Roy’s, a chain of Hawaiian restaurants, recently reported it has seen an 800 percent in return on investment after pursuing a mobile-only hyper-local campaign that relied on click-to-call as a major element. The mobile-only campaign helped increase calls to restaurants by 40 percent and click-through rates by 539 percent compared to desktop. The cost per click was also two-thirds less than desktop ads.

For advertisers, the cost per click is the same for a phone call or a click on a mobile advertisement, despite the fact that phone calls show more intent and are better leads for advertisers. Chatterjee said Google is trying to keep the pricing simple for mobile ads and couldn’t say if Google has plans to raise rates on click to call in the future.

It’s still early in mobile search advertising, and results like those seen by Roy’s probably reflect the advantages experienced by early movers. But the emergence of click-to-call shows how integrated marketing that leverage the attributes of mobile can be optimized for real results, and it suggests mobile search advertising is poised to see a lot more growth in the coming years, similar to the success Google has seen online. Search advertising may still be Google’s one trick, but it could turn into a powerful one on mobile as well if tools like click-to-call continue to take off.

Related content from GigaOM Pro (subscription req’d):

  1. Google Makes Money From Hyperlinks To Phone Numbers – ThinkMobile Tuesday, December 21, 2010

    [...] GigaOm has an article about Google’s advertising feature called Click-To-Call that is increasing mobile revenues for the company. You might know that Google sells advertising, which it calls sponsored links, that appear at the top of web pages in mobile web browsers. Companies pay money to Google to have their ads appear at the top of the page, and when they sign up for Click-To-Call, the companies pay to include their phone number in the ad. The phone number is a hot link that dials the phone number from a smartphone. [...]

  2. Click-to-call is still search advertising. It simply helps remove some of the friction between the online ad and the offline transaction while making it much simpler for small businesses to understand/track their return on spend.

  3. Google’s Click-to-Call Growing Amid Booming Mobile Activity Wednesday, December 22, 2010

    [...] first reported by GigaOm and confirmed by Search Engine Land, Google says hundreds of thousands of its advertisers [...]

  4. It’s interesting that the numbers are so big. Way back when Miva tried to introduce pay per call it didn’t work because pricing for that type of ad was much more than the standard ad.

    Mobile is going to be massive. click to call is going to be massive too.

  5. Google Click-to-Call Growing At A Rapid Rate | Native Rank Local Search Ranking Blog Thursday, December 23, 2010

    [...] a recent interview, Google revealed that Click-to-Call ads have been growing by 28% each month. These are especially [...]

  6. TEST POST | Paul Marz Blog Tuesday, December 28, 2010

    [...] an interview with GigaOm,  Surajit Chatterjee, senior product manager of mobile ads for Google, mentioned the [...]

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