Pay-per-call may soon be coming to eBay properties. The auction giant's $2.6 billion purchase of Skype positions the firm to add pay-per-call features for merchants and advertisers.
In announcing the transaction, the company said it could use Skype to monetize e-commerce-related communications on a pay-per-call basis. eBay also hints that the introduction of a pay-per-call model would enable it to serve new types of businesses by providing them leads. Sectors like personal and business services, travel, new cars, and real estate -- in which a phone call can be critical to closing a sale -- are potential areas for expansion, the company said.
"By and large, most small businesses are services businesses," said Greg Sterling, an analyst for researcher the Kelsey Group, "and for any service business that needs to close the sale over the phone, this would be attractive."
The company said it also planned to look at integrating Skype with its Shopping.com, Rent.com, Marktplaats.nl and Kijiji properties. Shopping.com is eBay's shopping search engine, in which merchants pay per-click for traffic to their sites. The other three properties are more akin to classifieds sites. In both models, some advertisers could possibly be interested in paying per-call for leads. The Kelsey Group's Sterling says it's an attractive model.
"It's definitely ramping very very quickly," he said. "It's growing on the back of pay-per-click advertising, with its success. The idea of being able to do performance marketing using the phone is very attractive to a wide range of businesses."
Interest in the pay-per-call space has been heating up recently. Both Google and MSN recently added technologies that may eventually enable them to offer such a pricing model. America Online and Verizon's SuperPages already offer pay-per-call to advertisers.
EBay representatives didn't respond to inquiries about potential pay-per-call plans.
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Pamela Parker is a former managing editor of ClickZ News, Features, and Experts. She's been covering interactive advertising and marketing since the boom days of 1999, chronicling the dot-com crash and the subsequent rise of the medium. Before working at ClickZ, Parker was associate editor at @NY, a pioneering Web site and e-mail newsletter covering New York new media start-ups. Parker received a master's degree in journalism, with a concentration in new media, from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.
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