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Under the Microscope: Google's new AdWords Call Metrics

What: Google's AdWords Call Metrics, a new ad product that combines the functionality of Google Voice with AdWords.

Why: To provide call tracking for AdWords campaigns.

How: By routing calls from the VoIP tracking number to a business number. Google captures time of the call and call duration. Marketers get reports on the data in the aggregate - not the individual call records.

Where: It's for both PC and mobile campaigns.

Why It Resonates: It connects that last mile for AdWords - offline activity, which Greg Sterling at Search Engine Land notes, is where most of the transactions take place. The point in making call tracking available via both local and toll-free VoIP numbers is to show advertisers that AdWords is driving more value than they realize, he writes, pointing furniture retailer Room and Board's recent campaign as an example. About half the consumers who called its 800 number from the ad bought something online. The other half that called the number bought something in a local store. "That latter 50% was almost entirely invisible in determining ROI prior to AdWords Call Metrics. The company's SEM firm figured out the in-store conversion rates by comparing the Google call data with in-store sales records and discovered 'the other half.'"

Why It Doesn't (At least for privacy advocates): Eventually Google will record and transcribe the calls, Sterling speculates. Already such competitors as Marchex and Telmetrics provide detailed records of individual calls, including transcription. But a Google offering of this service will inevitably attract privacy advocates and put the issue on a national stage.

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