According to the Wall Street Journal (sub req’d), Sprint has launched mobile (local) search has part of a broad new strategic relationship with Microsoft, “allowing its subscribers to use their phones to look up information on local businesses and events and find downloadable multimedia content such as ringtones, videos and games.”
According to the article, the new Microsoft-powered search will appear on the “home page of Sprint’s browser.” The local search component of the partnership will be monetized with advertising. But there’s ambiguity in the way the WSJ describes the ad model and I haven’t yet had a chance to discuss this with either party.
Here’s how the WSJ describes the advertising aspect of the deal. “The local-search component offers a new revenue stream as well: Businesses can bid to be listed as sponsored links in the local-search directory and will pay a fee when consumers click those links to call them through the service.”
So the clicks initiate phone calls to merchants. Whether these placements will be separately auctioned and billed as “calls” or as “clicks” is not clear. I’m assuming this is PPCall advertising and will be priced accordingly.
Microsoft is currently monetizing local search online at MSN search and Live Local through its relationship with SuperPages.com, which includes local PPC and PPCall advertisers. It separately has an exclusive relationship with Ingenio to provide PPCall advertisers for the mobile version of Live.com. Whether advertisers in the Sprint deal are being provided via either or both of those Microsoft relationships is not clear at this moment.
Regardless, the move will likely boost AdCenter’s fortunes in the near-to-medium term, with Sprint as a mobile distribution partner. It also further solidifies PPCall as an ad vehicle well suited to mobile.
Read the rest of this post at Search Engine Watch.