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Google Pushes Beyond Clicks to Call Metrics

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Google, an empire built on clicks, is slowly moving away from them as the only measure of success for ads. In the latest example, it's bringing call metrics to its search ads.

Google AdWords advertisers will now be able to add a unique toll-free number to their ads and track the resulting calls, along with how long they last and where they originated. The company is using the technology behind Google Voice to power the feature. For now, advertisers won't be charged for the calls, only clicks, but Google said it would consider such a setup down the road.

"We believe advertisers are actually getting a lot of value beyond clicks," said Surojit Chatterjee, senior product manager at Google. "It takes it beyond clicks and online conversions."

Now that Google has a much more diverse advertising business that includes video and display ads, the search giant has moved to go beyond the click. The irony is Google built its massive business through highly accountable search advertising that charged only for clicks. Google has already added click-to-call capabilities to mobile search ads.

"We are generating value we haven't clearly articulated so far," Chatterjee said. "It allows us to demonstrate this value."