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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 13 2006
Windows 'Expo' Replaces 'Fremont'
A little while ago I got a peek at the successor to Microsoft's classifieds marketplace "Fremont." The new site is being called "Expo" and offers a number of advancements and enhancements over the original incarnation of MSN classifieds. It was described as a "locally relevant social marketplace."

My understanding is that site won't go live for a couple of months, which is a bit of a disappointment, but it offers some tantalizing possibilities. It's classifieds + community + chat + maps + personalization. (The site also features local events.)

Windows Live Local maps, including Birds Eye photography, is integrated into Expo, which will be especially relevant in the apartments/homes category. Chat, a really valuable feature, requires both buyer and seller to have MSN Messenger (and could become a promotional tool for Messenger). Microsoft has also integrated Expo with MSN Spaces -- you can present your listings via an icon on your Spaces blog (and there's similar functionality for Messenger).

I was told that Expo listings would be integrated into Live Local and I asked whether the opposite would be true. That is being considered. The business model is contextual advertising from Kanoodle right now; but may include premium placement and/or Craigslist-style charging for selected verticals like Jobs.

Basic listings are free (now standard for online) and they include the ability to add images. The listings set-up process, which requires Passport registration, was pretty simple and fast.

The product will launch in the U.S. but ultimately will be global and will thus compete with eBay's Kijiji sites. But right now Expo has more functionality. The challenge is getting the content and building the user base. But the huge installed Messenger base should jump start that process for Microsoft.

Given all the advanced capabilities and potential content richness it's quite possible that this product could become more popular than Live Local. (There's the beginning of a services directory.) But the opportunity for Microsoft is to integrate the two products to build a kind of "uber-local marketplace" (not very "Web 2.0" I realize), where both local business listings and classifieds information would reside.

That would create more convenience and utility for local users who don't, generally speaking, want to go to one site for this, one site for that and five other sites for the other thing -- if they can get all their needs met in a single location or destination.

For the time, the market share distribution of general Web search seems to be fixed. But local is still in its early stages and there's still lots of opportunity. Apple has proven you don't have to be first to market to become the market leader. So if Microsoft can build a great and complete local product it has a chance to differentiate itself and gain consumer traction, which has to date eluded it in the general search arena.



Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  17:34 | permalink | comments [1] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 13 2006
Berry Adding 100 Digital Reps
Just saw this article in the Dayton Business Journal about The Berry Company's growing online sales force. As we wrote in the last edition of Local Media Journal , Berry recently signed a deal with Marchex to upgrade its guaranteed clicks program, which the publisher tells us has been selling well, with growth at a much faster pace than IYP sales. The new reps will sell both IYP and search engine advertising. TKR will be coming out with an advisory soon that examines current best practices in IYP sales.
Blog: Global Yellow Pages Blog
 
posted by  Charles Laughlin at  16:06 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]










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