Call-Only Ads v/s Search Ads: Which One Is Better?

by | Apr 12, 2023

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Call-Only Ads v/s Search Ads

As a business owner, it’s crucial to understand the challenges of prioritizing phone calls over leads for your business. Google’s Call-Only Ads feature can be an effective way to target users who are more likely to make phone calls. However, it’s essential to ensure that the calls generated through targeted keywords are valid and relevant to your business. To achieve this, you need to ask yourself the following questions when using Call-Only Ads:

  1. Are the calls generated through Call-Only Ads valid and coming from targeted keywords?
  2. Are you satisfied with the average cost per click (CPC) for Call-Only Ads compared to other ad formats?
  3. Are you satisfied with the cost per lead (CPL) generated from Call-Only Ads?
  4. Are you satisfied with the results generated from Call-Only Ads?

In this blog post, we will cover the following topics:

  • Are Call-Only Ads worth it for your business?
  • What are some alternative ways to generate more phone calls for your business?
  • Why do Call-Only Ads tend to have a higher cost per click (CPC) and cost more than Search Ads?

By exploring these topics, we can gain a better understanding of whether Call-Only Ads are the best fit for your business’s needs.

Before we dive into the topic of Call-Only Ads, I wanted to share my own case study with you. If you’re not familiar with how to create Call-Only Ads, you can check out this Call-Only Ads Guide.

As a business owner, it’s essential to understand the benefits and limitations of advertising strategies, particularly when it comes to generating phone calls and leads. I implemented Call-Only Ads campaigns for my client’s business, focusing on driving phone calls, so I decided to use Call-Only Ads campaigns. While I did to get conversions (phone calls), I noticed that I generated a low volume of leads relative to my budget. This was due to the high cost per click (CPC) of the ads. Additionally, the main KPIs of my campaigns did not appear to be performing as well as I had hoped.

call only ads

[Stats of Call-Only Ads Campaign]

Also, receiving phone calls that were not relevant to business, which negatively impacted my overall ROI. Even though I had added negative keywords to my campaign and all of my keywords were set to phrase match, I was still getting irrelevant searches triggering my ads. As a result, I was still receiving a lot of calls from people looking for something else.

I reached out to Google’s chat support to tackle this issue. However, their response was not particularly helpful. They informed me that they do not guarantee calls, only clicks on the ads, which makes it difficult to verify the validity of the calls. When I tried to follow up with them again, they simply told me that it was a good thing that my campaigns were drawing calls from competitors.

I tried to explain to Google chat support that drawing calls weren’t always a good thing, especially if they didn’t convert into business. Even if it was the wrong call, I still had to pay for it, and my clicks and money were wasted on that call. Unfortunately, the support agent didn’t have an answer to this question.

So, to tackle this issue, I decided to run a Search Ad campaign in combination with the Call-Only Ads Campaign. I launched a Search Ads campaign with a low budget. If you’re not sure how to create a search ads, you can refer to this blog for guidance.

Call-Only Ads v/s Search Ads

When I started experimenting with both campaigns simultaneously, I observed that the Search Ads campaign performed better than the Call-Only Ads campaign. The KPIs of the Search Ads were much better compared to the Call-Only campaign.

call only and search ads

[Stats of Call-Only & Search Ads Campaign]

I wanted to show you the screenshot of my campaigns for reference. As you can see, the Search Ads campaign performed better than the Call-Only Ads campaign with a lower average CPC, higher CTR, more clicks, and conversions at a lower CPL. Let’s see all the above metrics in the percentage.

  • The Click-Through Rate (CTR) of the Search Campaign increased by 81.94% compared to the Call-Only Ad campaign.
  • The Clicks of the Search Campaign increased by 217.95% compared to the Call-Only Ad Campaign.
  • The Avg. CPC decreased by 78.34% compared to the Call-Only Ad Campaign.
  • Phone calls and Conversions increased by 100% & 71.43% respectively.
  • Cost per Conversion (CPL) decreased by 59.89%compared to the Call-Only Ads Campaign.

Take a look at the significant improvement in KPIs after I switched to the Search campaign. As you can see, I was able to generate more conversions while spending less on budget compared to the Call-Only Ads campaign.

I decided to stick with the same campaigns and increased the budget for the Search Ads campaign since it was performing really well. Next month I noticed more improvement in the KPIs and results of the Search Ads campaign.

Jan month stats

As I mentioned earlier, even after increasing the budget for the Search Ads campaign, I still managed to achieve a lower average CPC than the Call-Only Ads campaign, as shown in the screenshot. In the month of January, I saw a significant improvement in my overall cost per conversion compared to Call-Only Ads. It decreased by 76.3%, while conversions and phone calls increased by 500% and 225% respectively. Additionally, I achieved a lower average cost per click compared to Call-Only Ads, which helped me to achieve a lower cost per lead.

After experiencing positive outcomes from receiving valid phone calls for my business through this campaign, I realized that if I could generate more phone calls at a lower cost per lead and a lower average cost per click, then it would be better to use Search Ads instead of Call-Only Ads. As a result, I decided to pause the Call-Only campaign and run only Search Ads.

I have shared a screenshot with you that shows my results on a month-by-month basis for your reference.

Call Only Ad Campaign's Stats

[Graphical Report of Call Only Ad’s Campaign]

Search Ad Campaign's Stats

[Graphical Report of Search Ad’s Campaign]

Based on these graphs, you can either come up with ideas or find alternative ways to increase phone calls. If you’re experiencing high CPC and CPL in call ads, I highly recommend trying out a Search Ad campaign.

The Reason For The Higher CPC of Call-Only Ads Compared to Search Ads?

The reason Call-Only Ads tend to have a higher CPC and cost more than Search Ads is due to the:

1. The Nature of Ad Format

Call-Only Ads are designed to encourage users to call your business directly, rather than clicking through to your website. This means that when someone clicks on your Call-Only Ad, they are directly connecting with your business through a phone call.

2. Their Higher Engagement & Conversion Rates

The direct nature of the ad format can result in higher engagement and conversion rates, as users are more likely to call your business if they are interested in your product or service. However, the higher engagement also means that there is more competition for Call-Only Ads, which drives up the CPC.

3. The Lower Click-Through Rate (CTR)

Call-Only Ads typically have a lower click-through rate (CTR) than Search Ads, which means that fewer people are clicking on the ads. This lower CTR can also contribute to higher CPCs, as advertisers need to bid more to compete for the limited clicks available.


To conclude, after experiencing issues with irrelevant calls from the Call-Only Ad campaign, I decided to experiment with a Search Ad campaign alongside it. I found that the Search Ad campaign performed better in terms of KPIs such as CTR, clicks, and conversions, even with a lower budget.

Both campaigns taught me the importance of analyzing key performance indicators and making data-driven decisions. Hopefully, this experience can serve as a helpful guide for those facing similar challenges in their Google Ads campaigns.

If you have any queries about Google Ads for your business needs, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Looking for more information on Google Ads?

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