Google, PPClick and PPCall

One of the value propositions of PPCall is that the user who “picks up the phone” to make a call is a more serious prospect and closer in time to a buying decision than someone who merely clicks on a link. Most users who click on sponsored links are in the process of doing research and are not necessarily that close to making a purchase or conducting a transaction with a “service provider” (doctor, plumber, CPA, etc.).

Historically people often turn to Internet Yellow Pages (IYPs) to find phone numbers before making calls and thus IYPs deliver much better/more qualified leads today than search engines.

So far, per call rates far outstrip click rates in most categories. That makes sense: advertisers will pay more for better leads; and according to the logic above the calls are better leads than clicks.

Google has done something interesting though with its new “click to call” product. Check out results for “Hotels New York.” You’ll probably have to scroll to the sponsored links on the right with no URL and a phone icon. The “W” Hotel and the Marriot Marquis are usually the ones that are click to call enabled.

If you click the hotel name link an ajax-window opens prompting users to enter their phone numbers. There’s a check box that offers to remember your phone number. This is quite interesting. Because one of the criticisms of click to call is that it “requires a change in user behavior.” In other words, people are unaccustomed to entering phone numbers in modules and waiting for their calls to be connected (there are those who dispute this is any kind of problem). Regardless, this “remember me” feature eliminates any “friction” in making the call. The user’s number is simply there the next time she clicks one of these links.

The interesting thing is that this simple piece of functionality turns PPCall into something much closer to PPClick because it is now as simple and quick to initiate a phone call as it is to click through to a website.

Will this ease of use and streamlining of click to call (which will soon support PPCall for Google) diminish the value of leads to those advertisers? It’s an interesting thing to contemplate and ultimately an “empirical question.” However, once you’re on the phone with a sales rep. it’s much more likely that a transaction will result than if you click through to a site.

For example, if I’m looking for a hotel in New York and I initiate a call to the “W” it’s more likely that I will book than if I’m at the “W” site or on Orbitz or another travel aggregator. Why? Simply having me on the phone moves me along a path toward a close.

So Google with its new click to call product has made it much easier to generate calls to advertisers and probably not terribly diminished the quality of those leads. It also seems to be fully integrating those click to call advertisers into the mix of PPClick advertisers. It will be interesting to see if that remains the case in the future.

I would also expect to see this click to call functionality appear on Google Local maps. Google had previously experimented with putting logos/advertising on the map (which has now apparently come down). But I could quite easily see similar functionality on a map: when you click the link, up pops the “balloon” and a call field is there to initiate a call to a local business.

Last week Jambo announced a deal with Village Voice Media to supply PPCall to LA Weekly newspaper advertisers.


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