The search company's ads break the sound barrier.
Google is testing a pay-per-call feature in ads appearing on its search engine results pages.
Some searchers have begun to see a phone icon next to the company's sponsored listings. By clicking on the icon, they can enter a phone number and click a "Connect for Free" button to be linked up to the other party.
Google's system first calls the search user, then dials the merchant and makes the connection.
The company details the offering in a FAQ item on its site. In its description, Google tries to head off privacy concerns, saying it will store a person's phone number and call information for less than four months.
"We won't share your telephone number with anyone, including the advertiser," according to the FAQ. "When you're connected with the advertiser, your number is blocked so the advertiser can't see it. In addition, we'll delete the number from our servers after a short period of time."
It's not clear whether advertisers in the test are paying for the service, whether it's in the U.S. only, or what the bidding/pricing structure for leads it generates will eventually be.
Reached for comment, Google confirmed it is conducting "limited tests" of a pay-per-call model, but declined to give more information.
Blogger and tech consultant Greg Yardley was among the first to spot the feature, and he's posted some screen captures on his blog. Tests appeared on search results for the query "refinance," a keyword likely to attract advertisers that would highly prize phone leads.
Presuming it receives a wide roll-out, the Google service will be a formidable competitor to existing providers of pay-per-call technology, including Ingenio, eStara, VoiceStar and Jambo.
Pay-per-call is widely thought to be a powerful local marketing channel in the making. A JupiterResearch study found almost half of small businesses are receptive to pay-per-call online advertising. Kelsey Group, meanwhile, predicted the pay-per-call market will grow to between $1.4 and $4 billion by 2009.
Join the Industry's Leading eCommerce & Direct Marketing Experts in Chicago
ClickZ Live Chicago (Nov 3-6) will deliver over 50 sessions across 4 days and 10 individual tracks, including Data-Driven Marketing, Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email. Check out the full agenda and register by Friday, August 29 to take advantage of Super Saver Rates!
Until March 2012, Zach Rodgers was managing editor of ClickZ's award-winning coverage of news and trends in digital marketing. He reported on the rise of web companies, data markets, ad technologies, and government Internet policy, among other subjects.
The Marketer's Guide to Customer Loyalty
Customer loyalty is imperative to success, but fostering and maintaining loyalty takes a lot of work. This guide is here to help marketers build, execute, and maintain a successful loyalty initiative.
The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising
Latest research reveals 68% higher revenue per conversion for marketers who integrate their search & social advertising. In addition to the research results, this whitepaper also outlines 5 strategies and 15 tactics you can use to better integrate your search and social campaigns.
September 23, 2014