Thursday, March 02, 2006

Pay-Per-Call Rings Louder With Google

From eMarketer MARCH 2, 2006

Who would have imagined that Google would begin to use an old method of communication to step into the future?

Last September, eMarketer noted the then dawning age of the pay-per-call business, especially as it applied to the small business market. Greg Sterling of the Kelsey Group noted at the time, "Consumers are accustomed to making phone calls to contact local businesses and local businesses are similarly used to closing leads over the phone. A performance-based online medium that delivers calls rather than clicks therefore makes sense for the local market."

Speaking more recently to OnlineMediaDaily, Mr. Sterling pointed out that growth is this market could become explosive as portals get into the act: "It's a mirror of online advertising in general," he said. "If you've got people pushing the product to market, it's going to grow much faster than if it's a purely self-service."

Bill Leake, CEO of Leads Customers Growth, an advertising agency, also in an interview with OnlineMediaDaily, expressed his eagerness to test the service. "Really, the only limitation at this point is how rapidly the portals roll out pay-per-call," he said.

Given the growing number of people using portals -- eMarketer projects 144.5 million users in 2006 compared with 137.6 million in 2005 -- and with Google venturing into this area, the popularity of pay-per-call business can only grow.

Greg Sterling sums up this new development by mentioning the explosive symbiosis that can occur with online and offline marketing working together. "The big theme here is the connection of online and offline," Mr. Sterling remarked to the Journal. "It really closes the loop, and that's the attraction of it for everybody." Now that Google and Yahoo! are involved (Yahoo! began exploring this avenue last year), Mr. Sterling estimates that pay-per-call is likely to be worth $3.82 billion by 2010, a considerable advancement over this year's projections of $60 million.

Because the growth of portals may be the key to understanding the potential of the pay-per-call business, read e-Marketer's report, Portals: The Strong Get Stronger.


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