Google seem quite severely intent on refining their services – following their recent ‘spring clean’ which saw the termination of Google Reader, the media giant has quietly updated its Policy Change Log regarding advertising regulations, which will have an impact on anyone promoting their business through Google, writes John Kehoe, managing director of Media Agency Group.

“In the next few weeks, we will no longer allow phone numbers to be used in the ad text of new ads”, states the post entitled ‘Relevance, Clarity, and Accuracy – Phone Numbers in Ad Text‘.

The amendment seems to be most detrimental for smaller businesses taking advantage of a direct call to their business before the cost of a click is made and marketers that publish a call tracking phone number in their own and client ads to measure return.

Anybody attempting to integrate a telephone number within their advert from March 2013 will have the digits rejected. Working towards “a safer, more consistent user experience across desktop, tablet, and mobile devices”, the only display number available will be one which is assigned and tracked by Google’s call extensions feature.

The consequence for companies is that they will now be charged for clicked links and telephone calls made from Google ads, whereas previously they could slip telephone numbers into the text of their advert description and benefit from customers accessing their contact details without having to hit the URL.

Google is directing advertisers towards using their ‘free’ call extensions facility within AdWords. Businesses can be allocated a unique phone number which is free, but does incur a charge of £1 every time a customer manually dials the Google forwarding phone number from a landline. On smartphone devices the link simply appears as a ‘call’ button which directly contacts the company and a standard ad click is charged.

For example, New York’s Museum of Arts and Design has the desktop display number of (212) 956-3535, when the number on its own website is actually (212) 299-7777.

The quiet introduction of this will be a shock to many as their new ads will be disapproved under the Accurate Ads policy. Google staff confirmed today their help centre is still to be updated and it is only the Policy Change Log which includes this vital information.

For now, writes, John Kehoe, the managing director of Salford Quays-based Media Agency Group, my team will be changing ad copy for thousands of local business ads and our own PPC campaigns.