A Guide to AdWords Click Types (With an Emphasis on Location Extensions)

Many people are surprised to learn that you have to opt into Google search partners in order to show ads on Google Maps, and for good reason. The majority of articles and resources (even Google’s own exam study guide) say otherwise. It’s only when you pick up the phone and call AdWords support that they’ll confirm:

  1. Location extensions must be set up.
  2. Search partners must be selected.

Which made me realize, if so few people know that search partners is a requirement for local search ads on Google Maps, even fewer must understand how to report on it.

If you’ve never segmented AdWords data by click type, I don’t blame you. It’s an inconspicuous segment compared to the other segment options, but if you want to see how ads perform on Google Maps (and a lot more), you’ll need to know how to get there.

But First, What’s a Click Type?

Click types are the different ways a user might choose to click on your ad.

The best-known click type for a search campaign is the headline. Text ads mimic the appearance of an organic search result in which the blue text (the headline) represents a link. A click on the headline has a click type of “headline”. It’s so simple that I’m probably confusing you by trying to explain it.

This is obvious for simple search campaigns. It’s how the AdWords platform was explained to you. A user clicks on your ad, which takes them to a landing page that you specified. It’s that easy, right?

Well, no. Not necessarily.

It’s as easy and simple as you set your campaign up to be. For example, many advertisers utilize sitelink extensions. When you set up a sitelink extension, you specify a final URL separate from the final URL of the text ad. It’s probable that a user would end up in two different places depending on which they click — the headline, or the sitelink?

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. At the time of this writing the AdWords API click performance report lists 45 values for the click type attribute. One is headline, and another is sitelink. There are 43 remaining values (and two of them are “other” and “unknown”). That’s a lot of options.

The AdWords Click Type Segment Report

Fortunately you don’t need to know all of the possible click types. Google hides irrelevant values and only shows those that are applicable to your campaign. You can find them in the click type segment report. Navigating there is easy; click on the Segment icon and then Click type.


AdWords Click Type Segment


This will break apart your click data, showing all of the click types your campaign is currently eligible to receive given its type and setup.


AdWords Click Type Report


No definitions are provided, presumably because Google believes their definitions are self-evident, but technicalities are important when it comes to spending significant amounts of cash. The names of many click types aren’t intuitive.

Apparently nobody knows what many of them mean.

Google’s support pages contain scattered, incomplete information. Their own advertiser community has threads without answers. I went down the rabbit hole looking for descriptions and examples. For the most common click types, I’ve compiled my findings here.

AdWords Click Type Definitions (and Examples)

Search Campaigns

Driving Direction — A click to get directions and begin navigating to the location of the business. This is based on location extensions. Its appearance has changed over time, but here’s a recent example of how it looks in action.


Example of Driving Direction Click Type on Desktop and Mobile


It may seem obvious but I feel compelled to say it plainly out of fear that it could go unnoticed. These are paid clicks that do not go to a landing page. They prompt directions to your place of business.

Get location details — This click type causes a lot of confusion, and the frustration many advertisers experience after finding out its details justifies a more thorough explanation compared to the other click types. I’ll explain enough here, but you definitely want to read my important notes on click types for location extensions later in this post.

Get location details clicks are based on location extensions. Users who click to get location details land on a business’s knowledge panel page hosted by Google, not on your specified landing page.


Example of Get Location Details Click Type on Desktop and Mobile


In my experience the get locations details click type receives a lot of clicks, although at a lower cost per click. It’s almost like Google knows they’re taking advantage of advertisers by charging for less desirable clicks and want to give us a discount.

Headline — A click on the headline of a text ad. No picture included because if you’re still reading this I assume you know what a headline is.

Manually dialed phone calls — Although this appears in the click type segment it is technically not a click, and for that reason the clicks column will show zero. In order to see calls and impressions you need to add the Phone calls and Phone impr. columns. This is done by clicking on the Column icon then selecting the columns under Call details.


AdWords Manually Dialed Phone Calls


This “click” type is based on call extensions that use Google forwarding phone numbers and shows on desktop and tablet devices.

Mobile clicks-to-call — A click on a call extension by way of a mobile device. If you look at the call details columns mentioned with manually dialed phone calls, the first thing you’re likely to notice (assuming you’re using Google forwarding phone numbers) is a discrepancy between clicks and phone calls. That’s because clicks track the actual click on the ad, while phone calls track when the call is received, and not all clicks become calls.


Clicks to Call Click Type Example


Show nearby locations — A click based on location extensions, but only for accounts with multiple locations. That is all I’ve been able to gather about this click type, which is more than Google has provided (even after digging through support pages, using advanced search operators, multiple calls to AdWords support, tweeting #ppcchat, and more). I’m sorry. I wish I knew and could say more.

Sitelink — A click on a sitelink extension. These are links that provide more options for users to click. For example, the ad used above to show manually dialed phone calls also utilized sitelinks. If an individual was determined to email them, they might click on the “contact us” sitelink.


AdWords Sitelink Click Type Example


Display Campaigns

Headline — A headline click within a display campaign might seem confusing if you’re running image ads because there is no headline. Without any extensions, users only have one option, which is to click the image. In that instance, that’s what a headline click is. It’s simply a click on the image. I think “image” would probably be a better name for this click type, but I’m not a Googler, and it is a fairly harmless distinction.

“In location format” click types — It’s easier to explain all of the in location format click types as a whole rather than individually.

These click types are based on location extensions. You can set up location extension ads manually or AdWords may create them automatically for responsive and 300 x 250 image ads. Here’s an example of how an ad might look with each click type identified.


Display Campaigns in Location Format Click Types


Map in location format: Shown in the lower middle.
Image(s) in location format: Shown at the top.
Call-to-action for directions in location format: Shown in the lower right.

You might have seen other “in location format” click types that follow this style. Just know that this is the format in which they occur. Also keep in mind that automatically generated ads can pull information from the Google My Business profile, so make sure it’s filled out!

Important Notes on Click Types for Location Extensions

There are two issues that seem to come up repeatedly when discussing click types on location extensions.

The first has to do with multiple clicks and whether or not you pay for them.

For example, let’s say a user performs a mobile clicks-to-call to double-check that a business is open. They are, so the user hangs up and clicks the same ad to get driving directions.

This is legitimate. Nothing about it suggests invalid traffic or invalid clicks. The second click is not accidental, malicious, or fraudulent. Their support page specifically uses the example of return visits:

Multiple clicks from the same IP address don’t necessarily suggest invalid activity. There are several possible reasons why this happens:

  • Return visits: Individuals may click your ad more than once when comparison shopping or returning to your site for more information.

In this case you pay for both clicks, even though it sucks to pay twice for the same customer.

This is the lesser of the two issues, and it runs into the second because some of the same click types are available on the knowledge panel page. This brings up the question, how does the knowledge panel page work?

As I mentioned earlier, the knowledge panel (KP) page is the landing page for get location details clicks. Although the KP page contains click options that function the same as previously mentioned click types (such as driving directions and mobile clicks-to-call), you are not charged for them, because the KP page is not an ad.


Location Extensions Knowledge Panel Page


You probably want to know what happens on the KP page. If Google has the nerve to charge you for clicks to their landing page, you’d think they’d have the decency to tell you what they did with them instead.

But up until recently the answer was no. It’s a black hole for most advertisers with no post-click tracking. Don’t lose hope yet, though. Good news is coming soon.

Local Conversion Actions and the Per Store Report

I received a notification a few days ago about local conversion actions, and for accounts with multiple location extensions, the per store report.

This appears to be a solution for tracking click types on the KP page. I think it’s a stretch to call all of them conversions, but they’ll only show under the Conversions column if you set them up to track as conversions. If you don’t, they’ll fall under the All conv. column, which you can segment by Conversion action to see them by name (I won’t go into to much detail because, unlike the other click types, these conversion actions are well defined on the support page).

  • Clicks to call
  • Local actions – Directions
  • Local actions – Website visits
  • Local actions – Other engagements (share, save, etc.)
  • Local actions – Orders (vertical specific, like for restaurants)
  • Local actions – Menu views (also vertical specific, like for restaurants)

The per store report goes one step further, providing view-throughs of the same conversions for each location. When it’s live you’ll be able to find it by navigating to Locations, then drop down the Geographic report.

Why You Should Care

This information is really granular, and I’d expect quite a few people to dismiss looking into click types as a diminishing return, but some clicks are better than others. It’s worth checking out — you might save some money (or make a lot more) because of it.