Google Tests Click-to-call Charging in Mobile Ads

Google has begun testing click-to-call functionality within location-specific mobile ads in the U.S., allowing smart-phone users to call businesses by clicking ad links from within their mobile browsers. The search giant notified a number of AdWords customers this week by e-mail that the feature will be introduced on their accounts, and a spokesperson said it plans to roll the feature out more broadly soon.

According to Google’s advertiser update, a location-specific business phone number will display alongside the destination url in ads that appear on “high-end” mobile devices. Users will be able to click to call a business just as they would click to visit a Web site, and advertisers will be charged for clicks to call in the same way they are for clicks to visit an advertiser’s site.

From an advertiser standpoint, the deal appears to be a good one. Receiving a lead by phone for the same price as a click is likely to be welcomed by most as pretty good value for money. Advertisers can choose to opt-out if they prefer.

Google has been dabbling with this type of functionality for years, initially testing pay-per-call features in 2005, and even filing a patent seeking protection for mobile ads that trigger a phone call instead of rendering a new page. Following the launch of its first mobile handset earlier this week, it seems the search giant now has its sights set firmly on the mobile market.

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