Google to Display Local Retail Phone Numbers When Location Extensions Show in Ads

By Tinuiti Team

Over the past year, Google has expanded exposure for ads that include location extensions to improve the search marketing experience. This also includes showing ads in Maps and Local Finder results. And these kinds of ads may be updated to make it easier for consumers to get in contact with specific business locations.

On January 5, some AdWords advertisers received an unexpected email indicating some upcoming changes concerning the phone numbers that appear in ads. Let’s look deeper into this issue below.

The Recent Update about Location Extensions

Starting January 19, Google indicates it may show the local retail phone number when that store’s location extension shows in an ad. This may even be the case when a call extension in the campaign shows a different phone number. Such an update is about increasing the relevance of ads that feature location-specific businesses.

This change may affect campaigns that use both call extensions and location extensions. Advertisers that use such extensions are advised to make sure their Google My Business listings are up-to-date for each store location. But let’s move on to why this search marketing update is not a guarantee for every ad that includes these extensions.

Why This Update is Not Guaranteed for Every Ad

What would compel Google to not ensure this search marketing update will go into effect for every relevant ad? According to a Google spokesperson, this is a matter of testing. Therefore, Google is still experimenting with this kind of update in hopes that it will yield the best results later on.

In other words, it’s possible the ads could still show with no location-specific number. For example, if you’re displaying ads for a retail fashion business, you may find that none of your ads have such a number. Or only some of them don’t. Now, let’s uncover some of the pros and cons of this update.

Search marketing

The Benefits

We’ll start with the good news. A Google spokesperson said that AdWords is actively exploring conversion tracking on location-specific phone numbers. This could give a big boost to your search marketing efforts. Being able to track how interaction with location-specific phone numbers converts consumers can make it easier to tweak your ads in favor of your target population.

For example, it would be easier to understand which stores are getting the most engagement from your target population. Maybe this indicates that poorer performing store ads are connected with locations that lack a certain kind of inventory. This could be a certain kind of clothing or shoe apparel. Furthermore, it could be helpful to add related fashion keywords to your ads, in addition to improving inventory.

The Risks

Now, time for the not-so-good news. Since there isn’t conversion tracking at the individual location level yet, some advertisers will likely not jump on board with this search marketing update. Such advertisers may prefer to have calls directed to a central number or call center. In this case, advertisers can complete a form to opt out of having local numbers show in location extensions.

Here’s one of the reasons listed for opting out: “I want detailed call reporting and the ability to track conversions from these phone calls.” On the other hand, this move can negatively impact ad impressions and calls.

To opt out of using location-specific phone numbers in your ad, please complete this form.

Are you interested in taking advantage of this update? For more search marketing information, read our POV: Search-to-Store Attribution: Solving the Missing Link.

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