How Google Is Taking Websites Out of the Mobile Experience

It’s no question that Google has gone all-in with regards to mobile-specific enhancements and upgrades.

Just in the last quarter, it’s as if a veritable update floodgate (upgate?) had been opened, leaving PPC marketers awash with two new distinct features, each allowing for new ways to target and interface with mobile users.

However, in releasing these features, Google has sidestepped the landing page in two distinct ways. With these new features, you can still convert without ever having been shown the website for the business you’re calling from (Thinking call extensions?  Think bigger.), and you can still make a purchase without ever browsing the website of the merchant you’re buying from.

Those implications are remarkably huge for all parties involved, and while I’d love to don my tinfoil hat and discuss why Google would consider such barbaric things (the Internet is, after all, wholly made up of webpages), I’d really like to discuss these features in a bit more detail if nothing more than to give a bit of context.

Call-Only Campaigns

With the roll out of call-only campaigns, Google is looking to take advantage of what are known as micro-moments; the short-lived, high-intent scenarios where smartphone users are most likely to perform a conversion action, such as making a purchase or calling a business. Google addresses the latter scenario with this new mobile-specific campaign type that behaves much like a call extension, but is infinitely more useful.

Call extensions depend heavily on ad position in order to show, whereas this is not the case with a call-only campaign; a “Call Now” icon is always going to show wherever an ad associated with that campaign shows.

call-only-campaign
What call only ads look like.

 

 

Additionally, the call-only campaign option also allows for the optimization of the call conversion action specifically because when a click is recorded it also means that a call was made. The implication is that you’re essentially going to have a 100% conversion rate (booya), which only underscores the fact that this campaign type requires a different optimization approach compared to its search and display counterparts and should typically produce a much higher ROI.

call-only-campaign-setup-adwords
Setting up a call-only campaign isn’t any more difficult.

“Buy” Button for Mobile Shopping

With the advent of the buy button for mobile, Google is taking a similar approach as with the call-only campaign.

Users will now be able to purchase products directly from the shopping carousel located at the top of the mobile SERP.

google-shopping-buy-now
Here’s your typical Google Shopping carousel, where will the buy now button be?

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shopping-buy-now
The button will probably look something close to this, years of testing make it likely.

Rather than having to click on the product ad, wait for the product page to load, view the loaded product page, add the product to cart and yada blah, users will be able to purchase with a single click, assuming they have Google Wallet linked and configured.

The idea, as with the call-only campaigns, is give users with itchy conversion trigger fingers the option to buy something instantaneously before they search elsewhere or lose their spat of spontaneity altogether.

My Tinfoil Is Ready

Now gather ’round everyone, for now we are returning to the very tinfoil hat-like topic surrounding these new features.

If you need a to-know-how-to you’re own metallic mantle, I implore you to consult the instructions located here (not my scribbles).

These new features beg the question of whether Google is actively trying to eliminate the middle-man, or website, from the mobile experience.

Well, are they?

The answer is a mixed, tinfoil-constructed bag.

On the one hand, they’re doing exactly that.

The idea behind removing the landing page is to eliminate one of the most crucial, and often confounding, variables when attempting to achieve hero-level conversion rates and dollar store CPLs.

Google’s justification lies within its research into micro-moments which tell us that smartphone users are able to act spontaneously, expect highly relevant content that is contextualized to fit their preferences.

This then gives credence to the main goal of each of these new features:

  • If the user’s goal is to call a business, why not make that experience as easy as humanly possible for the user to achieve?
  • If a user is pricing a particular product while awaiting sales assistance in-store, why not give them the tools to make the purchase instantly?

Google posits that when a user has high-intent, allowing them to buy or call in that exact, immediate moment, rather than having to navigate to a page to locate the cart button or phone number on-site, will increase conversions rates.

Put another way: do you remember those J.G. Wentworth commercials, with various people shouting to the universe “It’s my money and I need it now!”?  Yeah, kind of like that.

OK, Google

So you see, it’s not such a tinfoil-hat type of situation after all.

this-is-what-happens-when-you-wear-a-tinfoil-hat-for-too-long

Sure, it’s possible that traffic to the product or service owner’s website will ultimately suffer, but if the ease in which people are able to convert is substantially higher, then don’t the ends justify the means?

 

 

 

I leave you with some questions:

  • How should optimization tasks be adapted to best leverage and improve call-only campaigns? Does the visual appeal of a phone number now replace the cognitive/emotional appeal of traditional search headline?
  • How important is it for customers to engage with the merchant’s website/interface in terms of  repeat sales (recognizable site interface/branding) vs. having them purchase expeditiously via Google’s buy button?

 

6/11 UPDATE: I’ve come to learn through my own experiment running a call-only campaign that a click does not, in fact, equate to a conversion.  After looking through my data along with doing a bit of reading I now realize that there’s an extra, previously overlooked cog in the wheel when it comes to counting conversions in this campaign type.  Specifically, a click on the ad is still a click, but does not equate to a call necessarily simply because the user can simply refrain from hitting the call button once the number’s been loaded into their phone’s dialer.  This article here sums it up quite nicely and proved to be quite informative.