If you're like me, when you heard about the new call-only campaigns in AdWords that were announced on Feb 20, you thought to yourself, "Great, how is this different from forcing a phone call on mobile devices using call extensions?"

Call-Only Campaigns vs Ad Extensions with "Just the phone number"

In case you didn't know, for a while now we've been able to force a call on a mobile device (as opposed to sending the click through to a website) by selecting "Just the phone number" when creating a call extension:

Selecting that option means that when someone on a mobile device clicks your ad, they aren't even given the option of going to your website – the dialer on their phone pops up and they can either call you or not.

It's a feature we've used to great success for a while, which is why it seemed weird to me that Google was launching these new call-only campaigns.

What's different about call only campaigns?

So it turns out there are a few key differences that give these campaigns some distinct advantages over forcing calls via call extensions.

1. Call extensions don't show with every mobile impression

There's no way that I'm aware of to ensure your call extensions show up on every mobile impression. I don't know why. If somebody has the answer I'd love to hear it.

That means there's no way to force a call on every mobile click. Some mobile clicks are going to leak through to the website, even if you select "Just the phone number" in your call extension options.

2. Call-only campaigns are mobile-only

Because you can adjust bids only for mobile devices, there's currently no way to prevent your ads appearing on desktop and tablet. That means it's not possible to run a campaign targeting mobile users only.

These call-only campaigns are mobile-only – specifically, "mobile devices that can make phone calls."

Obviously, because you can't truly separate out mobile from non-mobile by forcing calls using ad extensions, there are all kinds of reporting and bidding implications that stem from the two advantages above.

A phone call may be valued very differently from a website click and warrant a different bidding strategy and require separate reporting; now you can do that.