24% of Internet Users Have Made Online Calls

Landlines in the US are disappearing. About 40% of US households are either mobile only or primarily mobile. The number of HHs without a landline at all stands at 27% according to the US Center for Disease Control.

Against this backdrop it’s interesting that a recent Pew Internet & American Life Project survey found that “24% [of Internet users] have placed phone calls online. That amounts to 19% of all American adults.”

One might be tempted to argue that VoIP calling is all about saving money — and partly it is. But Pew’s demographic breakdown shows the highest penetration of VoIP calling by income category resides in the most affluent group. And a higher percentage of the most educated segment makes VoIP calls than those less educated.

So to a large degree this trend would appear to be about increasing comfort levels with VoIP and the evolution of consumer behavior more broadly. For some, however, it may be a rational effort to save mobile/voice minutes.

Pew also says that “7% of cell phone owners had participated in video calls or online chats with their handheld device.”

Several years ago “Click to Call” online was fairly widespread: YP publishers did it, Google and Microsoft did it and all basically abandoned it for lack of consumer use. More recently Skype (now part of Microsoft) has tried to turn click to call into an ad product. And Google has had great success with Click to Call/PPCall in mobile. Google also released call tracking for AdWords campaigns late last year.

I’m wondering if the foundation is now appropriately laid for the return of Click to Call or PPCall online. Today you can do the latter “manually” with call tracking numbers. But I wonder if we may soon see a renewed effort to enable online calls as an advertising or lead-gen tool for SMBs in the not-too-distant future.

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4 Responses to “24% of Internet Users Have Made Online Calls”

  1. Matt Fogel says at

    Interesting point about the potential of this laying the groundwork for a return to Click to Call and PPCall online, Greg. I think you touch on part of why usage hasn’t really taken off in saying that it was widespread among YP Publishers and big players like Microsoft, cable companies and telcos. Many SMBs aren’t aware of it, or simply assume is too expensive because they only see it on big sites.

    I’ve been seeing some interesting data now that Agendize has started offering our platform to SMBs. From the feedback we’ve been getting, Click-to-Call not only gets them speaking to their web leads right away, but makes it easier to track who called and how the lead found them. In some cases replacing contact forms altogether with Click to Call. The mechanism is becoming less of a focus than the benefits gained from it.

    It seems that lines are certainly starting to blur between “internet” and “telephone”. (Not to mention television, book, and just about everything else…)

  2. Greg Sterling says at

    Very interesting Matt. Thanks

  3. Telmetrics Introduces Call Tracking Without Tracking Numbers says at

    […] it’s also not as strange as it once was to click a phone number on a PC and initiate a call. Skype and Google Voice users do this […]

  4. Max says at

    Greg you were ahead of the curve saying that the groundwork may have been getting ready for a return to click-to-call services back when you wrote this article.  Now with the advent of WebRTC, there is no doubt in my mind that we will see not only a resurgence of such products, but an interesting wave of new services that will take advantage of all that developers will be able to do with this new technology.  I keep finding myself back on your blog, and I appreciate the great reading – keep up the good work!


  5. Greg Sterling says at


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