Matching Yahoo!'s testing of PPCall, Google is testing "Click to Call." No phone numbers are exposed; the service connects advertisers and would-be buyers by clicking an icon. I was unable to find any of the ads live on Google, but Search Engine Journal (link below) has some examples in the mortgage category.
This is obviously big news and has lots of implications. I don't have time to explore those (as we have in reports and various blog posts in the past) at the moment. We have projected that PPCall could be a $1.4 billion market by 2009.
One of the problems with paid search (especially with less sophisticated advertisers) is that there's incomplete tracking. People see impressions and clicks, but they ultimately don't know how many of those clicks actually turned into real leads. This is less of an issue for e-commerce businesses. But for local businesses and others, it's a problem. Call tracking and PPCall help "close the loop."
As we've said in the past, calls and clicks will be widely available as separate but complementary products going forward. More from Search Engine Journal.
Update: Google has issued the following statement:
Google is always considering new ways to provide value to its advertisers and we frequently run tests of potential new features and products. We are
currently conducting a limited test of a pay-per-call model, but we don't have any additional information to share at this time (emphasis mine).
So it is apparently a PPCall test. Still don't have any sense of who the vendor is.