adds VoIP

  |  February 14, 2003   |  Comments

Visitors to Verizon's yellow pages site can directly talk to advertisers via voice over IP thanks to a deal with eStara.

Verizon Information Service's and online communications provider eStara announced a partnership that will allow visitors to the yellow pages site to directly contact advertisers through voice over IP (VoIP).

The "click-to-call" service will use eStara technology to allow users to place free PC-to-phone and phone-to-phone calls to advertisers listed on, the largest Internet director service.

"With click to call, gives advertisers yet another competitive edge, offering customers another doorway to their business," said Patrick Marshall, Verizon Information Services' marketing group vice president. " is the first online yellow pages directory to offer VoIP capabilities."

Financial terms of the deal and pricing were not disclosed.

Advertisers can pay an extra fee, either on an a la carte basis or as part of a packaged deal, for a "talk-for-free" button to appear next to their listing. After clicking the button, the user is prompted to choose either "talk by PC" or "talk by phone."

Reston, Va.-based eStara acquired the VoIP technology in its October 2001 acquisition of IXTC's push-to-talk service. It connects the consumer and advertiser by calling both parties and patching them together. said the process usually takes less than 20 seconds.

The service is available nationwide, although only the PC-to-phone option is currently possible in Washington, D.C., Maryland and West Virginia. The option is also available on en Espanol.

The VoIP deal is not's first foray into offering advertisers multimedia options to stand out from the pack. Last May, it struck a deal with Webcasting TV to allow advertisers the option of adding streaming video to their listings. Participating advertisers have the option of a "view-video" link next to their listings.

Dallas-based boasts 9 million unique visitors per month, with distribution deals that include its directory on MSN, InfoSpace, Ask Jeeves and Excite. Overall, the directory service is carried on 2,500 affiliate sites.

The company has targeted the Hispanic community, which recently became the largest minority group in the United States, with a Spanish-language directory launched in 2001. In late October, Terra Lycos signed a deal to provide a tab to the directory's Spanish-language version on's homepage.

Separately, in other online directory news, AOL inked a deal with Thomson's FindLaw unit for it to provide legal listings to the AOL Yellow Pages Network. The agreement calls for the one million attorney and law firm listings in FindLaw's West Legal Directory to appear in a "featured" section of AOL's directory. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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