Connecting consumers and merchants by telephone could bring new advertisers to paid search, particularly small businesses and services firms that don’t transact business online. It could also help companies that rely on call centers to sign up customers.
“The big theme here is the connection of online and offline,” says Greg Sterling, an analyst at research firm Kelsey Group. “It really closes the loop, and that’s the attraction of it for everybody.” Mr. Sterling estimates the pay-per-call market will be worth $3.82 billion by 2010, up from $60 million this year, driven by the arrival of large Internet players like Google and Yahoo.
Average bid prices are $10 a call, with certain popular, mature categories, including mortgages, refinancing and debt consolidation, reaching as high as $50, Ingenio says. “This is 10 and 20 times the going rate for clicks,” says Marc Barach, Ingenio’s chief marketing officer.