Using Jambo's technology, the directory provider tries giving merchants a free taste of pay-per-call's value.
Technology provider Jambo will create a unique, trackable local phone number for each listing on the Infospace site. Calls made through this number will be tracked through Jambo's servers, and delivered to the merchant with a branded message appended to the beginning to the call, letting the merchant know the lead came from Infospace.
Under most pay-per-call systems, merchants need to sign up with the provider before they begin getting calls -- a system that John Melideo, CEO of Jambo, calls the "burden model."
"With existing models, the burden of signing up, of getting value from pay-per-call, is on the merchant," Melideo said. "With Jambo, merchants don't need to do a thing to start getting leads sent to them."
Once a merchant begins getting calls, Jambo will follow up, either with a human sales person or via an automated phone call inviting them to sign up with Jambo for enhanced services. Merchants can pay a per-call fee to get higher placement in search results on Infospace, as well as on other directories, local and vertical search engines in Jambo's network. Jambo customers also get detailed demographic and geographic information about each caller.
"We're going to merchants to whom we've already shown we can deliver value, offering them a chance to increase their relevance on that site, and on other sites," Melideo said.
The biggest challenge for vendors of local search and pay-per-call programs has been reaching the merchants in the target audience, said Ronald Burr, Jambo's chief strategic officer. Jambo's business model requires far fewer salespeople, since they only contact merchants that have generated demand for pay-per-call services.
Melideo alluded to upcoming plans that would utilize technology to further solve the problem of scalability, though he declined to share details. He promised an announcement on that effort would be coming in the next few months.
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Kevin Newcomb joined ClickZ in August 2004, covering search marketing and other online marketing topics. He has been reporting on web-based businesses since 2000.
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