Last year we broke a story about Skype’s new initiative with local pay-per-call. Given its half a billion global users, the company began to monetize the calls made to businesses, large and small. These calls usually cost the user, but under this new program, advertisers interested in receiving calls would pay instead, on a per-call basis.
The company would sell this advertising to businesses through channel partners, and has done so in a few overseas markets with Yellow Pages New Zealand and European Directories. Now it has found its exclusive partner in the U.S. in Marchex — a company already working with large and small businesses to drive clicks and calls.
Here are some of the details provided by Marchex:
— Unlocks a new, very large, and growing audience for advertisers. Skype has over 560 million users worldwide and is growing every day.
— Participating advertisers gain a competitive advantage with their business listed as a “Free Call.”
— Skype is exclusively included in the Marchex Pay-For-Call Exchange distribution.
— Call Analytics provide advertisers with market intelligence and insight.
— Advertisers agree to pay a fixed amount per call, along with a budget. Rates are determined based on advertiser categories.
— Skype users see participating advertiser phone numbers highlighted as “Free Call” everywhere they appear online.
— Consumers click on the “Free Call” icon and phone your business for free.
— Advertisers pay only for completed phone calls.
This gives Marchex more inventory to sell to a growing base of advertisers, including its efforts in recent years to go after large brand advertisers. The beauty of Skype’s new efforts in this arena is that it doesn’t involve traditional pay-per-call methods (i.e., separate tracking numbers), but rather existing phone numbers in search results.
Users who have Skype installed (100 million in the U.S.) will see phone numbers on Web pages and search results automatically linked to the Skype dialer. This makes it easy to click and initiate a call. For those numbers that are connected to Skype/Marchex advertisers, a blue “free call” icon is included.
As European Directories and YPG NZ have reported in overseas trials, this free call icon has proved to boost call volume, though they have been tight lipped about specifics. More of the conceptual benefits and ins and outs of Skype’s plans are in our previous post, and a promo video for the new Marchex program can be seen here.
Overall, it should prove to be a creative application of Skype’s existing assets, and should help the company continue to diversify and find innovative revenue paths as a newly independent company.