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Seeing Into Google's Future

by David Utter for WebProNews

Google may plan to redefine the term PPC to mean “pay-per-call” as it focuses on dominating local search markets.

The recent post on noted industry observer Om Malik’s blog sees a connection between Google’s plans for dark fiber and Wi-Fi, and the newly debuted Google Talk voice and IM chat application.
Mr. Malik, by way of comments from Lachlan Yachau, gives a nice summary:

“So could all the talk about Google’s VoIP plans really be all about extending its advertising franchise into pay-per-call, rather than offering plain old consumer minutes, a la everyone else?”

In a Business 2.0 article, Mr. Malik wrote that Google could “use VOIP technology to dial phone numbers that appear in local search results.” With a massive rollout of Wi-Fi and the first version of Google Talk on the Web, combined with Google’s scheme of providing Gmail invites to US mobile phone users, the potential use of pay-per-call becomes clearer.

Perhaps as one poster named Steve Borsch suggests, people need to take a hard look at the bigger Google picture:

“Gmail, Google Maps, search history identified to a specific individual, blogging and now IM & talk, imagine the data being captured that can be matched with location awareness (i.e., IP address database matching) and it becomes pretty clear: Google is building an analytics platform that eventually will know more about me and my habits than I know myself.”

One of the advertisers featured in the recently announced Google print ads, AHS Systems President Jeff Witkowski, offered an insight on the phone side of the promotion in a Cnet article:

“It’s a lot of exposure for cheap,” he said, adding that Google is “doing a ton of tracking on this. They’re using their own 1-800 numbers on this, and it forwards to our line.” The Internet addresses of the online versions of the ads also redirect traffic through Google servers.

Mr. Malik comments that this could be Google’s VoIP play. He notes how AOL’s pay-per-call placements show up before Google results on AOL Search “because I am told they make more money for AOL.” Pay-per-call could be the answer to the question of why Microsoft purchased Teleo, too, as Jupiter Research’s Gary Stein observes:

“I imagine that pay-per-call would be an interesting offering within their AdCenter advertising/search offering. We know that local merchants would rather pay for a call than a click; having pay-per-call as a product is pretty much a must for anyone looking to get into the local directory business.”

Mr. Stein further wonders why Microsoft didn’t just partner with a firm like AOL’s partner Ingenio. Simply, it’s probably easier for Microsoft to purchase rather than partner in some cases.

A poster called Neeraj on Mr. Malik’s blog thinks the Google pay-per-call strategy could be based on a Verizon announcement at SES 2005:

“At SES this year, Verizon Superpages already announced what Google may be contemplating. Here’s the release:
Very clever and payments occur when potential customers make calls to merchants.”

Another poster named Jack Miller finds Google pay-per-call an impressive prospect:

“The magnitude of this is mind bending. Fewer ads all over the place but more effective ads all over the place.”

The print ads containing phone numbers appear in the latest issues of Maximum PC and PC Magazine. If the pay-per-call model seems a bit too reasonable, you could always on Google’s Wi-Fi schemes.

Discuss Google’s future at WebProWorld.

About the Author:
David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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Camilla Todd
Camilla Todd is Head of Digital Marketing at WNW Digital and manages Search Engine Optimisation, PPC, Social Media campaigns and Brand Awareness for WNW Digital SEO clients. You can follow her on Twitter @camilla_wnw, email her at or phone on 01392 349580

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