I found a nice nugget of information in this Business Week article about pay-per-call:
“Google is currently at work on its own pay-per-call service, which already works as a part of Google Maps but hasn’t yet been offered to U.S. small businesses. In that system, users click on an icon for a restaurant, enter their numbers, and an outside provider connects the user and the establishment. The company has already launched a formal pay-per-call product in India, says Rohit Dahawan, a product manager for Google that oversees the click-to-call and pay-per-call products. And they’re working on more such products, to be launched in the next several months in the U.S. They’ve also started tracking calls as part of their updated small-business AdWords service.”
“These ads are charged at about 45 INR (Indian Rupees) (about $1.00). When somebody clicks on the ad, you get a text box where you can input your number, the moment you submit google connects a call between you and the advertiser and let both of them speak for as much time as they want. So advertiser only spends about 45 INR, irrespective of the calling time. One can call you from any part of the world and these charges will remain same. Also if the call get disconnected in first 10 seconds, the advertiser pays nothing. This service is currently in beta and currently google seem to have offered access to pay per call to some big players in the indian .com industry.”
What it means: I was not aware of this Google pay-per-call trial. They are clearly using the click-to-call functionality they deployed earlier in 2006 to enable the pay-per-call model. I really believe in this call-based ad model (it was part of my 2007 predictions) but I’m not sure this is the right way to execute. Click-to-call is not as seamless as replacing a merchant’s usual number with a trackable phone number. But you know what? If Google is trialling pay-per-call, you’d better be thinking about it as well if your media is all about calls. BTW, I also love the idea of expiring phone numbers for the classifieds business (like Craigsnumber).