Google Forwarding Number

Google Forwarding Numbers – Some Insights

Why aren’t Google Forwarding Numbers Showing in My Ad’s Call Extensions?

Google Forwarding Number
Google Allows advertisers to show a forwarding number in their Ad Extensions to better track conversions

We recently came across a situation where we set-up call extensions for our client with a Google-forwarding number. However, in testing to make sure it was working, our call extension numbers were not showing up consistently.

Here’s the Scenario:

We have a client that we recently launched. As part of the launch we set-up call extensions in Google AdWords. They were set-up at the campaign level and we enabled the Google Forwarding number to track conversions from ads.

The forwarding number allows Google to replace the client’s phone number in the ad extension of the ad with a Google provided number. When a searcher either performed a “Mobile Click-to-call” or saw our ad on a SERP and called it, we could see that conversion in AdWords. The call would be forwarded to the predetermined number that we had set-up in our call extension.

Here’s the Problem:

We noticed that while the call extension was being triggered, we were perplexed as to why different campaigns were showing the forwarding number while others were showing the client’s static number. Digging deeper, we noticed this was happening within campaigns as well.

Here’s what’s going on:

After double-checking that everything was set up properly, and doing more testing to verify this was actually happening, we reached out to Google to find out what was up with this.

It turns out that call extensions, even when set-up at the campaign level, are deployed at the ad group level, especially when it comes to forwarding numbers. Each ad group then has a threshold that they must meet before the call-forwarding number is deployed and substitutes the static number in your extension. I’ve been told that the threshold is between 20-50 clicks per month to start showing the forwarding number, and then “most likely” 10-20 clicks per month to maintain that threshold. (I put “most likely” in quotes as Google engineers don’t state that on record, but that seems to be the consensus from advertisers).


When you set-up call extensions with forwarding numbers, your ads don’t automatically start showing that forwarding number until the ad group reaches a 20-50 threshold of clicks. And in order to keep showing that number, you must maintain a similar (yet smaller) threshold of clicks on a monthly basis.

How to see if your ad groups are meeting that threshold

Google Forward Numbers for Call Extensions
Each ad group needs 20-50 clicks before forwarding numbers are enabled with Google

To check whether or not you are at that threshold, you can open up the ad extensions report, make sure the view is set to “call extensions” and then segment by “click-type.” Once the total clicks in that view are in that 20-50 range (per ad group) your forwarding number will start working.

Some important things to keep in mind:

  • Only mobile click-to-call numbers can track these call conversions to the keyword. If a searcher views the number on their desktop or tablet and calls the forwarding number, the conversion will stay at the ad group level. Forwarding numbers are assigned at the ad group level, not the keyword level, however with mobile click-to-call the chain can be connected.
  • This is the same thing if you are trying to use Website call conversion with a small piece of javascript replacing the phone numbers on your site to track conversions. These have a similar threshold level set-up at the ad group level before the numbers are replaced as well as to keep that number to keep being replaced.
  • Oddly enough, this set-up seems to reward those people that have lots of keywords in each ad group instead of breaking them out to try and make sure that ads and keywords are properly matched up in ad groups. So here’s on reason to have more keywords per ad group then less.