Google Testing Click-To-Call Ads

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_This article is by Guest Contributor Marc Poirer._
Google is finally testing the “pay-per-call” advertising model in their search results. The pay-per-call advertising model has been in the cards for a few years already, with several companies attempting to make a business out of it, but when Google decides to go forward with something like this, we all need to pay attention.


The Google Click-to-Call service has been reported in several blogs earlier this week, including Greg Yardley “who posted screenshots of the ads”:http://www.yardley.ca/blog/index.php/archives/2005/11/23/google-tests-out-click-to-call-adwords/.
Wednesday, Google acknowledged it with the publication of an “FAQ on the service”:http://www.google.com/help/faq_clicktocall.html. Click-to-Call even has “its very own privacy policy”:http://www.google.com/help/privacy_clicktocall.html.
This new service will allow advertisers to get connected over the phone with prospects who found their ad somewhere on Google’s network, whether it’s through search results or via some form of contextual advertising.
Click-to-Call works in a clever way. Let’s imagine Jane is searching for “Canadian mortgage brokers”:
# Jane sees an ad for a local mortgage broker with a phone icon on the side
# Jane clicks on the phone icon
# Jane is prompted to enter her phone number
# Google then automatically dials Jane’s phone number
# Jane answers the phone and waits for the mortgage broker to answer at the other end
# The conversation begins, and all long distance fees are on Google’s dime!
This is the next big thing in performance based advertising. You can expect Yahoo Search Marketing and MSN AdCenter to introduce similar services soon enough. I expect B2C and B2B advertisers with big ticket items to be the first to gravitate to this new offering.
Ultimately, the prices for this service will be much higher than the current price per click. It’s typically much harder to say no to a human being than it is to click back on a web page, so the conversion ratio for advertisers should be much higher than it currently is. Early birds will have an opportunity to close a lot of business when the service first goes live, as prices will probably be ridiculously cheap. However, once Click-to-Call goes “mainstream”, prices will go up, and just as is the case now for PPC, sophisticated campaign management methods and tools will be required to maintain profitability.
It will be interesting to see how companies will track the performance of their click-to-call campaigns from a ROI perspective, because unlike web transactions, there will be no tracker to measure transactions that take place. Disciplined sales people who will systematically log the results of each call may be the key, but whoever heard of good sales people with discipline? 🙂
Marc Poirier is Senior Strategist and President of “acquisio”:http://www.acquisio.com/, a Montreal-based company that provides software solutions and consulting services to help companies acquire more customers using paid and organic search. He can be reached at .

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