Henry Blodget writes:
Pay-per-call, as currently implemented, is a small business in part because it’s not a perfect solution. Most web searchers would probably like some additional information about a vendor before chatting with them on the phone, and Ingenio deliberately does NOT enable this (by, say, also linking to the advertiser’s web site; see this search on AOL as an example, and compare the top link–Ingenio’s–with the next few). The best experience for the searcher would be to be presented with all options–link to web site, click-to-call, 800-number, and direct number–and only the use of the 800 number will result in a revenue event for Ingenio. Unless Ingenio doesn’t mind the “leakage” that results from the user going direct–or can figure out a way to get paid for a direct call from the advertiser’s web site–it will offer searchers an imperfect experience.
Yes, Google will enter this business, and, no, it won’t kill Ingenio. The stronger Google gets, the more it will be in everyone else’s interest to support non-Google partners. Yahoo!, AOL, and MSN wouldn’t be caught dead using a Google Pay Per Call product, so Ingenio has three massive potential partners there–at least until one or more develop their own solutions.