Online Exclusive: Is Google Going Pay-Per-Call Route?

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With the recent introduction of Google Talk - the search engine's newest voice and instant messaging product - and talk of a plan to purchase large quantities of dark fiber, some suspect that Google may be readying itself for an all-out venture into the newest online advertising trend, pay per call.

When Google Talk debuted a few weeks ago minus a search box but with added, quality voice capabilities, some advertisers no doubt experienced a tinge of disappointment at not having the ability to push their products on this new platform. But things are looking up for advertisers who subscribe to the notion that while Google Talk is a slight disappointment, it is just a stepping stone in Google's ultimate plan of using VoIP technology to enter and dominate the pay-per-call industry.

For those unfamiliar with pay per call, it works in much the same way that pay per click does, with the exception that in this case advertisers are charged each time a phone call is a result of a user clicking on the toll-free number (as opposed to the URL in a pay per click) displayed in the ad.

The toll-free number, generated by the software, redirects to the advertisers' actual phone number and gives the business a brief message before the call is connected, alerting them that the call is a result of a pay-per-call campaign. Search engine ad provider FindWhat partnered with technology giant Ingenio to be the first to create a pay-per-call advertising service.

Pay per call affords for a much more human approach to online advertising, especially for those pushing complicated, hard to sell products. Currently, advertisers bid between $2 and $15 per call for the first 10 minutes.

Though the prices are considerably higher than average pay-per-click prices and the volume of calls is also less than the number of clicks in a pay per click, the conversion rate of pay per calls can more than double that of pay per click. Consequently, the value of a sale resulting from a pay-per-call ad can also be considerably higher.

Imagine Google's innovation, clout and resources backing a pay-per-call venture. The potential for both Google and advertisers is limitless.


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