Telmetrics: Prevent PPCall Spam

Call tracking and PPCall firm Telmetrics put out a release that indicated telemarketers are calling business lines (published on the Internet) more often partly because of the consumer “do not call” registry:

Telmetrics’ call analysis showed a 61 percent increase in telemarketer activity from January-February 2009 when compared to January-February 2010.

I’m guessing that telemarketers are scraping the Web as well as probably using traditional media (phone books) to build lists that they’re now using to spam businesses with telemarketing calls. That inevitably means some numbers participating in call/leads-based ad programs (call-tracking/PPCall) are getting these calls. In fact Telmetrics says that “up to 40 percent of all call volume” could be coming from telemarketers. Yikes.

To address such “call quality” issues, Telmetrics released some best practices advice:

  • Local advertisers, including national brands with a local presence, should use local phone numbers in ad campaigns rather than toll-free lines. Consumers are four times more likely to call an advertiser with a local phone number.
  • Apply a quarantine period to all phone numbers published as a pay per call line, so that advertisers do not receive calls from legacy owners.
  • Use an automated tool to filter and block invalid calls so that advertisers receive real and valid leads and aren’t bothered by nuisance calls. Automation is more efficient and accurate than report filtering and significantly reduces administration and customer service costs.
  • Once a phone number is used in an ad campaign, continue ongoing quality assurance testing.

As an aside about the above, Telmetrics says “Consumers are four times more likely to call an advertiser with a local phone number.” I’m going out on a limb here but I would argue this data is also a proxy for the general effectiveness of local ads vs. national ads in many categories.

Back to calls. The problem that Telmetrics is raising is a fundamental one and threatens the integrity of PPCall programs. Yext uses an algorithm to only bill for calls it deems valid leads. Telmetrics has a “auto-blocking” system that it says prevents most telemarketers from getting through on these numbers.

Has anyone out there used PPCall and found that a large percentage of calls are telemarketing oriented?


13 Responses to “Telmetrics: Prevent PPCall Spam”

  1. bill Says:

    Work for a IYP…see your blog, agree w/your blog, and see it happening daily…

    Good stuff Greg…

  2. Greg Sterling Says:

    You see “call spam”?

  3. Matt Says:

    Telemarketing is a huge obstacle to effectiveness of call tracking on internet advertising. Although I have not jumped into PPCall, we use call tracking on landing pages to measure the effectiveness of our client’s PPC campaigns. Despite following most of the best practices outlined we see telemarketing calls often exceeding 40% of call volume.

    Automated filtering tools must be our next step. I’ll let you know how that works!

  4. Howard Lerman Says:

    Hi Greg

    The identification and elimination of telemarketing calls is a key problem we’ve worked hard to solve in pay-per-call advertising. We’ve definitely seen an uptick of telemarketing calls over the past year, which driven the ratio of calls we bill for down even further (most recently hovering around 50%). Of course, we do our best to block them from happening in the first place.


  5. Greg Sterling Says:

    Thanks Howard. Do customers see the problem or identify it as an issue?

  6. Hornswaggled Says:

    This is a disturbing article, 40% or more just seems like a lot of money down the tubes. So not only is telemarketing taking up the small business owners time they are literally taking a chuck of their money, one call at a time.

    From the telemarketers or local sales guys standpoint they have a ready and willing listener on the other end who is excited for the call, it would be foolish for them not to go after this aggressively.

    I would love to see more info on how effective the filtering tools are, and to what extent this call spam influenced YEXT’s business model development.

    Thanks for the writeup Greg.

  7. Julie Says:

    As a previous employee of the phone company phone book, I hear lots of feedback from my friends who are still yellow page reps. Call tracking numbers always produced lots of non useful calls, but now that the price of the ad is dependent on how many calls you receive, the problem is a hundred times worse. Clients have to argue with customer service about eliminating calls from out of the area and telemarketer calls and customer service fights to keep the calls included. One of my former clients says that she doesn’t think any of the calls were from legitimate prospects. She may be exagerating, but she has a small beauty business, so it’s fairly easy for her to track new prospects.

  8. Greg Sterling Says:

    This is a big issue that needs to be solved (some are trying obviously) or the PPCall market will not further develop.

  9. brad Says:


    Where does this stat come from ” Consumers are four times more likely to call an advertiser with a local phone number.”?

    That number is way higher than anything I’ve seen (or tested myself); and while might seem reasonable in rural areas – just doesn’t seem to be true in highly urban areas.

    PPCall won’t necessarily go away until its solved; just each call will be worth less and so people will be willing to pay less. However, as you know, there are people working on solutions to only charge advertisers if certain words are in the call; and with call recording, it becomes easy to dispute non-legit calls with vendors.

  10. Greg Sterling Says:

    Brad: That’s Telmetrics’ number

  11. Marchex Launches PPCall ‘Exchange’ « Screenwerk Says:

    […] company is highly conscious of the “bad calls” problem with PPCall and does “call filtering” and ad buys that maximize good […]

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