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.