Automatic Bidding and Call Extensions

If you are currently using AdWords call extensions with a using a Google forwarding number be careful – If you enabled automatic bidding and call extensions, you will not accrue any phone impressions!

For several of our clients, a phone call to their business is the ultimate goal of their PPC advertising efforts. With AdWords call extensions, and the call metrics data provided by using call forwarding extensions, it has become easier to verify that AdWords does in fact generate profitable calls to your business.

With a call focused strategy, writ conversions – or even clicks through to the website become less important than the call itself. Whether the customer called directly after seeing the AdWords ad or not, whatever approach generates more calls to the business for the same amount of adbuy, is a working strategy. Especially when mobile clicks to call are concerned, the click may be the conversion event itself.

With that in mind I thought that I had found an excellent tool to help increase calls, when the majority of calls were generated by mobile clicks-to-call. The automatic CPC bidding tool. In my mind more clicks could potentially equal more click to call clicks. If I have a set budget, and AdWords can get me more of the stuff that I want for the same amount of money, why not? Unfortunately, there were some unintended consequences. With automatic bidding and call extensions, enabling automatic CPC bidding prevented the ads from showing a call forwarding call extension!

It’s purely speculation on my part as to the how and why of this situation. I assume it has something to do with the fact that when using automatic bidding, the system automatically sets the keyword level bid for each impression, and that somehow interferes with the systems ability to recognize an adgroup level CPP bid. Of course, since you can’t set any adgroup level bids, you can’t set a CPP bid at all. Regardless of the reason why, I was being far too “clever” for my own good. 🙂


In the official Google documentation about call forwarding number call extensions, there is a statement at the bottom of the document which is not true:

“Call extensions with Google forwarding phone numbers currently don’t work on campaigns using CPA or automatic bidding.”

Call extensions DO, work with CPA bidding. I can assure you, I use and rely on CPA bidding often, and as long as you meet the criteria to show a Google forwarding number call extension, it works with CPA bidding just as well as max CPC bidding. Yet, for some reason – Automatic bidding and call extensions still just don’t work.