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Feb 27 2006
More on Google Click-to-Call
The New York Times has an interesting piece today on Google's click-to-call offering, and that of smaller companies such as eStara and Ingenio, that have offered pay-per-phone-call marketing products (the ad model built around the underlying click-to-call technology) for some time. What Google currently offers is not PPCall (it's not charging for it yet), but it is rather testing the click-to-call functionality on which a PPCall advertising model will be based - likely integrated with AdWords. We blogged about this two weeks ago, and wrote about it in the current issue of Local Media Journal.

PPCall as an ad model is attractive because of the large segment of SMEs that don't have a Web site, and those that prefer calls to clicks.

From the NYT article:

About 70 percent of those businesses do not have Web sites, so pay-per-click advertising makes no sense for them. But even those who do have sites often lack the sophistication or the time to manage a pay-per-click campaign, which can require considerable tweaking to outbid competitors without spending too much.

Pay-per-call advertisers must still manage campaigns, but the approach appears so effective that for many it is worth the effort. Judson Brady, the owner of Broad Street Flowers, an Atlanta-based floral service, said he paid Yahoo about $1.25 for each prospect who clicked on his search page advertisement, and 5 percent of those prospects ordered.

By contrast, Mr. Brady said he paid Ingenio around $4.15 for each call from a prospect � most of whom see the ads on AOL, which introduced its pay-per-call service last year. More than a third of the callers place an order. "We're lucky to break even on the pay-per-clicks, but with pay-per-call we'll make $25 profit per order," he said. "My only complaint is there's not more of it."


Google's entrance to the click-to-call world will vastly accelerate the adoption curve of the technology among SMEs as the company's reach, influence and brand recognition will help spread the message that pay-per-call marketing can be an attractive option for some businesses, as outlined above.

More importantly the tool will allow Google to tap into the segment of SMEs that don't advertise with AdWords, or don't even have a Web site (thus not being sold on the value of clicks). Combine this with Google's strategy to drive small business Web site development through its new free Web development and hosting service, and it becomes clear that Google is attempting to penetrate much further into local and SME markets.

It will be interesting to see how well it pulls this off.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Mike Boland at  18:15 | permalink | comments [2] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 13 2006
First Signs of Google Click-to-Call
Seth Godin (found via SEW) reports on a Google click-to-call option that is being served up with some sponsored links. He gives an example of sponsored search results that instead of links, include a small phone icon (same icon used to place calls in Google Talk) which can be clicked to open a small Ajax-based window for initiating a call between the user and a business.

A phone number must be entered the first time it is used, but it offers the ability to save that number so subsequent uses are easier (and truer to the term "click-to-call"). To see this in action, note that Godin's says to do a search for "Artisan Hotel" (without geographic modifier). I assume he did this from New York, because when I did this search from San Francisco, I ended up with different search results. The way around this if you are in a location that gives you geographically relevant links that don't include these click-to-call examples, just add a New York zip code, or the words "New York" (or just follow this link). Then you'll see what he's talking about and be able to give it a whirl.

Google appears to be testing it on a limited basis (which we already knew it was doing), but this is the first sign of it. It could be an intriguing cross-platform offering to entice existing AdWords customers, and more notably the large segment of SME advertisers that prefer calls to clicks and currently aren't "sold" on AdWords. On another level it extends Google's growing list of options and platforms offered to local and national advertisers that now include print magazines and radio, and will likely soon involve television or video (look for the company to acquire or develop something similar to Spot Runner soon). From a consumer facing standpoint, the user experience could likewise be groundbreaking given the sheer mass of Google users.

There will be a consumer adoption learning curve however, as there is with most new technologies, and which there certainly is with internet telephony. But it's important to note that this isn�t VoIP, as the click-to-call tool we�re talking about initiates a call between a business and a phone number that a user provides. But it�s certainly a step towards VoIP.

That little green phone icon that signifies click-to-call in these new search results is the very same one that represents a PC-to-PC call when it appears in Google Talk. The search click-to-call could evolve into something similar where instead of a call initiated between a business and a consumer land line, an outbound call is made directly from the user�s computer � building on the technology currently available in Gtalk.

Search as a point of entry into the whole Google experience, could therefore push along the mainstream adoption of VoIP overall because it will show mainstream consumers that VoIP isn�t so scary. This is the very strategy behind introducing VoIP in an IM context, as we pointed out in a recent advisory. Once it becomes mainstream, it can be fully leveraged and monetized across IM, email, search, local, and mapping products. And the advertising models built around click-to-call will be the monetization lever.

In the meantime look for those little green phone icons to start to multiply across the Googleverse.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Mike Boland at  23:58 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 1 2006
Notable VoIP Happenings
Google�s well-publicized earnings announcement yesterday overshadowed another notable piece of news about the company. The San Jose Mercury News reported that Google is working with Florida-based VoIP Inc. to possibly add voice calling to its network of offerings, which can be seen as a step toward bolstering its search advertising with pay-per-phone-call.

Google currently offers PC-to-PC calling through its Google Talk IM client that was released in April. But adding PC to PSTN (land line) would bring it closer to click-to-call functionality, a key underpinning of a PPCall model. SEW reminds us that Google has been testing click-to-call since November.

Given that many small businesses prefer calls to clicks, this could be a powerful tool in leveraging the base of SME advertisers that already participate in its AdWords program and could appeal to the larger segment of SMEs that haven�t been enticed by the promise of clicks. It could also be more disruptive to directory publishers whose businesses thrive on such SMEs.

BusinessWeek meanwhile reported today that Microsoft has a similar plan up its sleeve to integrate PC-to-PSTN calling to its e-mail and IM clients. Also notable is the possible VoIP integration into its Windows Live Expo classifieds service that hasn�t officially launched yet.

From BusinessWeek:

It will allow people to find buyers and sellers who are connected, even if distantly, to their social network of IM buddies or e-mail friends. For example, a user could see if a pal or member of another friend's social network has a sofa for sale.

Where VoIP comes in: In addition to e-mailing the sofa seller, the Live Expo user can lob a call directly from a PC. Currently in an internal trial, Expo will enable Microsoft to compete with classifieds services Google Base, currently in beta tests, and Craig's List, one of whose investors is eBay.


Indeed, this could be similar to eBay�s possible plan to integrate the VoIP platform of its recently acquired Skype to its auction and classifieds listings.

There are also mobile implications according to BusinessWeek:

Microsoft's VoIP plans even reach beyond the PC. The company is also angling for a piece of the mobile-search pie. Though it involves tiny screens � consumers can use cell phones or personal digital assistants to search the Web � this market has huge potential. It's expected to rise to $1.4 billion in 2010, from $90 million last year, according to consultancy Visiongain.

In other VoIP news, Om Malik reports that Time Warner (as announced in its quarterly earnings report) has added 246,000 VoIP subscribers for the fourth quarter and 880,000 for the entire year, which gives it a grand total of 1.1 million (this class of VoIP service doesn�t involve an IM client or a computer at all, but rather a normal phone that is connected to a piece of hardware to make calls over the Internet. Competitors in this space include Verizon and Vonage). In a separate post, Om also provides some good stats on overall VoIP adoption and projections.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Mike Boland at  15:00 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]










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