Pay-per-call (PPCall) marketing has never lived up to its potential because of challenges with distribution. But the rise of mobile has given call-based ads a big boost. The documented success of Google’s Click-to-Call (PPCall) program and the suggestion that Google may create online call-based marketplace is lending new momentum to PPCall.
Local marketing firm Marchex has bet the farm on call advertising and related analytics. The company is trying to make the case for calls with compelling stats like: “digital call advertising campaigns convert 10X the rate of search campaigns” (based on their own internal data). By contrast, Yext recently “pivoted” away from PPCall — though that’s still a healthy business for the company.
A recent survey of marketers and agencies, performed by Forrester on behalf of Marchex, shows the potential for call-based advertising but also some of the challenges that exist in the market.
Nearly 50% of the survey respondents said they wanted to generate calls from their digital advertising (I’m surprised the figures aren’t greater actually):
The survey data also reflect that marketers assign greater value to advertising channels when they deliver calls vs. other types of actions/leads:
Yet despite the fact that calls are highly valued, call-based advertising is not widely used by marketers and agencies. The following reflects a hierarchy of mobile advertising tactics:
The challenges to PPCall, identified in the survey, were confusion about ROI (this is totally mysterious), lack of availability, lack of awareness and missing agency support:
Given that the survey argued there is high demand for calls, the response that a “more clearly proven ROI” would drive more call-spending is very strange and seemingly contradictory. The Forrester report itself doesn’t really seek to explain this contradiction.
In the second chart about barriers to adoption, the top response (“technology not offered by your mobile search partners”) seems to reflect general ignorance of available options in the market. Google controls about 95% of mobile browser-based search and offers Click-to-Call (for search and display). On the app side local-mobile network xAD offers call-based ads in a wide range local-search apps. And there are other sources of mobile call-based advertising, including Marchex of course.
The main problem “on the ground” seems to be agencies and their ignorance and/or lack of expertise and knowledge around call-based advertising.
The Forrester report also offers a call-based advertising forecast but it’s so speculative, with so many hypothetical assumptions, as to be almost worthless.