What the heck is going on with AdWords Call Extensions?


Has a very recent change from Google resulted in some loss of Call Extension tracking?

In looking into what appears to be a change in mobile ad formats (visible phone number) a Google Rep told me that they very recently rolled out a new product feature where mobile ads are now showing a phone number and also a click-to-call button.  OK, cool right? NOT.  The problem is that the number they are showing is the number that the GFN should be forwarding to (not trackable as a conversion) and the click-to-call button is using the GFN (trackable).

Why am I kinda annoyed?

The reason I use the Google forwarding numbers in my call extensions is to track phone leads as conversions.  With this format I have one number displaying which is going to phone line A and a click-to-call button which leads callers to phone line B.  If people call line A the call extension is not in play and therefore not trackable as a conversion.  I also suspect that Google is not getting their money out of my advertiser either.  Maybe I should keep my mouth shut right?  Maybe, but when I sit down with my client at the end of the month and try to explain why their conversion numbers have fallen no one is going to be a happy camper.  Now having said all that, my gut tells me that most people on mobile devices are going to use the click-to-call feature vs. manually dialing the visible number.  But then I saw the desktop SERP below for my same client with no Google forwarding number.  Instead, their main line is being displayed which the GFN should be forwarding to.  How can I track that as a conversion?


To be clear all my Call Extensions are setup to use the GFN and to count calls as conversions.


This is what the Google rep I spoke to shared with me today.

“Hi Kim,

Thanks for calling in today! As a follow-up to our conversation, please note this is a new product feature where mobile ads are now showing both the click-to-call button as well as the actual phone number (not Google Forwarding Number).

As a result of our conversation, our engineering team will put in a new feature request to have the GFN show instead of the actual phone number if you have that enabled. However, since this is a brand new feature we don’t have an exact time frame for when this would be available. “

Our team checked on a bunch of other Clients who have the same type GFN setup and I found the same issues on both Desktop and Mobile.  I guess we will wait to see what happens but in the meantime if Google is not going to be using our GFN setups then Paid Search Managers need to be aware that there may be some tracking discrepancies they were not expecting.  One solution I considered was to purchase another trackable number from our third party tracking solution but I would need to do that for every campaign using call extensions to be able to properly attribute the calls to the correct campaign.  A cost burden for my Client I prefer not to have to resort to.

I reached out to the Rep again to get some clarity around why the GFN’s are not firing up on desktop and will report back.

Philly Marketing Labs


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