Google has begun testing pay-per-phone-call ads, an emerging online ad model that is a twist on the popular pay-per-click ads.
While pay-per-click ads link users with advertisers' Web sites, pay-per-phone call ads link users and advertisers by phone. The Kelsey Group recently forecasted that in 2009 spending on this type of online ad could reach US$1.4 billion, so it's not surprising to see Google testing this model.
Just as pay-per-click advertisers only pay when a user clicks over to their Web site, in pay-per-phone call advertisers only pay when the ad leads a user to contact them by phone.
In Google's case, a phone icon has begun to appear with some ads and after users click on it, they can enter their phone number. Google then generates a call between the user and the advertiser, according to an FAQ (frequently asked questions) page about the pilot program on Google's Web site.
The call is free to the Google users.
"Google is always considering new ways to provide value to its advertisers and we frequently run tests of potential new features and products. We are currently conducting a limited test of a pay-per-call model, but we don't have any additional information to share at this time," the spokesman wrote.
Ingenio is considered the leader in this emerging market -- they sell pay-per-phone-call ads to advertisers and provide the back-end technology for the ads. Its pay-per-phone call ads are distributed via a network of providers that includes America Online. AOL shows Ingenio ads in the sponsored search section of its search engine results and its AOL Yellow Pages online directory.