It's no secret that calls are important and becoming more and more relevant, so it's not surprising that Google wanted to ensure they could be measured and analyzed. However, because of complex regulations on international phone number allocation, the internet giant has been cautious about call tracking and only provides limited call tracking options.
Google currently offers threeways of tracking calls:
Call extensions for a campaign
Website call conversions
1. Call extensions
A campaign ad with a call extension has a phone number added to it.
The phone number is displayed dynamically and differs from user to user. Usually, Google tries to display numbers in the company's local area network.
This means the user calls Google rather than the company itself. Google then forwards the call to the company and stores the information in its own network. That allows calls to be linked to a campaign.
2. Call-only ads
Call-only campaigns provide an additional option specifically for companies that do not have their own website but nevertheless want to use Google Search as a lead source to receive calls.
A phone number is displayed in a two-line call-only ad. Incoming calls can then be counted in Google Ads.
3. Website call conversions
A quick look at a company's website is usually enough for most consumers to decide whether they want to contact the company.
In other words, once consumers have established they can trust a website, they keep an eye out for a phone number so they can quickly find out the particular information they require by making a call.
This is where call tracking comes in. Google replaces an individual phone number with a Google forwarding number that makes it possible to link the call with a Google Ads campaign.
Out-of-the-box solution from Google
Free call tracking
Can easily be set to import call conversions with real values as offline conversions in Google Ads, even at a later point in time, and compare them against calls
The numbers belong to Google and can be used for other campaigns at any time.
There is no guarantee that Google will use phone numbers from the local area network in question.
Website call conversions only replace the number allocated to the campaign. It takes an enormous amount of time and effort to replace different numbers on a website – e.g., points of contact or stores.
It is not possible to display international numbers, e.g., a number in the website visitor's country of origin.
The call data is only available in Google Ads. It is not possible to customize the number format, .e.g, +49 123 45 67 89 or +49 123 / 45 67 89.
Only the SEA channel can be tracked with Google forwarding numbers.
It is not possible to additionally book numbers for special display campaigns.
Only key customers are given a direct point of contact for call tracking.
Call routing is not guaranteed on German servers.
Numbers are used on a company website that have not been allocated to that company in accordance with Federal Network Agency requirements.
Google's solutions offer a "light" type of call tracking that is not bad for trying out call tracking or using it at entry level. However, they only provide a superficial solution that cannot compare to the depth of specialist call tracking solutions.