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This week Google has brought marketers one step closer to actually tapping into the holy grail of local, mobile advertising with the simple addition of a hot link. Starting Thursday, Google search ads can include click-to-call links.
The look and feel of the ads won't change much, but letting users click on search results gets them one step closer to spending money at those establishments, which is why local businesses are getting excited about mobile advertising.
This feature is only available to smartphones with high end HTML functionality. But for Google, that's where the money is. Mobile phone users looking for nearby search results are exactly the kind of audience that small businesses want to attract.
Digital searchers have the luxury of sifting through search results for specific answers. But mobile users on the go are less picky. They need the most relevant solution that is closest to them at a given moment. Making it easier to call the pizza place or hardware store five blocks away is a big step toward making local advertising more useful.
Organic listings already have click-to-call functionality, but now Google will start charging advertisers for the price of a phone call lead to their business.
According to SearchEngineLand:
"On most smartphones, phone numbers typically can be touched (or “clicked”) to initiate a telephone call. This “click to call” scenario already exists for Google organic local listings on smartphones. What Google is saying, simply, is that it will allow phone numbers to display in ads and will charge advertisers when calls are initiated accordingly.
This is a version, effectively, of “pay-per-phone call” but the cost per call is the same as a click — a bargain (generally speaking) for the advertisers to receive a “warm lead.”
This announcement comes in tandem with Google's other recent local pushes. Just last week, Google introduced optimized search suggestions based on location. Three weeks ago the search giant added “Near me now functionality to mobile searches. And the company is essentially working out a Yelp killer with its efforts to get local businesses signed up for its Favorite Places program.
For many brands and marketers, the more useful mobile ads become for users on the go, the more business they'll bring in. And if Google wants to corner the mobile ad market the way that it has mastered online search, little tweeks like this are a great way to do it.