I received an email last night about Google AdWords Call Metrics, which is a new call tracking solution offered right out of your Google AdWords account. You can read more from Google here – http://www.google.com/ads/innovations/callmetrics.html. Basically, Google is offering a free phone number that would be placed next to your PPC ad, similar to many of the other ad extensions (such as maps, products, etc.) they already offer. This is a step in the right direction for sure, but let’s look a little closer and see some of the features as compared to a call tracking solution such as the one Digital Third Coast offers. First, it appears that Google’s Call Metrics will only show a tracked phone number in the ad. This is great when people are looking for your business specifically, but if someone is shopping around they may want to check out your website before they pick up the phone. If this is the case, the Google call tracking number won’t do your campaigns much good. Solutions like DTC’s call tracking system can actually dynamically change the phone number on your website, meaning the call is always attributed to the right channel – whether that be PPC or organic. The next thing to look at is the caller information. At this time, Google’s system shows next to no information about callers, stating “you’ll see the number of calls you received and other metrics, including call duration.” A more robust system can provide these metrics, plus the location of the caller, the name and number of the caller, and it can even record calls. Google does have plans to increase the amount of information, but even their stated plans do not have close to the amount of detail other systems can provide. Whether this is an advantage or not really depends on how you plan to use your call data. The coolest part of Google’s latest offering has to be the incorporation of Call Metrics with the rest of your AdWords campaign information. Unfortunately, at this time, Google’s system only appears to give data at the campaign level – meaning we still don’t know which keyword triggered the action. As Google is also the platform for advertising, they could theoretically have the ability to tie all of your campaign data together, including your keyword level call metrics. This is where Google could really shine in the call tracking market if they choose to pursue it. Currently call tracking systems able to provide keyword level call data are simply priced out of most advertisers’ budgets. Since using and levering account information and metrics are the most important aspects of succeeding with an AdWords account, if Google could begin to attribute calls to keywords, then they would not only stand tall above most call tracking solutions available today but could simultaneously instill more advertiser faith in the effectiveness of their product. While they may have a ways to go, and although they may begin to charge for the use of this feature in the future, this is a bold step in the right direction for Google. Until they get it totally right, there is still much value in using a full featured call tracking solution such as Digital Third Coast’s call tracking solution. And even if Google nails it down the line, this feature is only available through AdWords – meaning organic traffic and other PPC search engines will still need to be tracked independently.