Pay Per Call Advertising
Those who aren't very excited by the boom in pay per click search advertising could be made to sit up by the advent of pay per call. Advertisers who prefer to put their faith in the persuasive oratory talents of their employees, rather than the rather ubiquitous click ad or email, are paying close attention to this new service. The principle of pay per call is exactly the same as pay per click, in that key words are auctioned off but with the difference that clicks don't link, they dial straight to the switch board of the advertiser. There are variants on how this works but the theme is generally the same, either way the advertiser is billed for the referral.
America Online along with other partners including pay per call expert Ingenio and backed by eBay and Microsoft, are paving the way for this technology to infiltrate the internet.
There is a widely held belief that for small service businesses like lawyers and accountants this service could provide an excellent conduit for customers to pose questions. Particularly so given that many smaller service companies do not have a web presence. In addition, the quality of those customers coming through is likely to be high, with a greater likleyhood of the customer purchasing a service or product. The key is the elimination of the browsing culture purveyed by the conventional pay per click system, with customer coversion rates estimated to be up to 20 times higher. This could make a crucial difference to a small, local business with thin margins, looking to maximise the impact of an ad campaign
There is a catch. The price is pitched at an average of $7 per call compared with an average 50 cents per click. Like all new products and services, competition will bring prices down to a lower level in time. How far this technology will be adopted is unclear, but market research from Kelsey Group Projects estimate that pay per call will become a $4 billion dollar industry by 2009.
It will be interesting to monitor it's development and to see whether it will have any applications in the world of blog advertising.
For further analysis on this topic please see Forbes.com