PPCall Goes Mainstream (Six Years Later)

This morning call-tracking and analytics provider Telmetrics offered some new call-related predictions for the year:

  • Pay Per Call Goes Mainstream With Mobile: High mobile adoption rates for both consumers and advertisers mean there is a mutual understanding of the platform and the relevancy of calls.
  • Mobile Propels Pay Per Action: Advertisers today realize the wealth of data available via mobile and are eager to track and pay for revenue producing actions including calls, map/directions downloads, QR code reads – any definable and concrete action that means a purchase is likely imminent.
  • In-App Call Tracking Rises: We expect consumers will continue to hone their lists of favorite apps and use them as their go-to resources for everyday planning and purchasing more so than mobile browsers.
  • Marketers and Advertisers Shift to Mobile-First Strategy: The combination of continued low advertising budgets and the tracking capabilities of mobile will mean a market shift of companies implementing a digital strategy that starts with mobile and then extends to other platforms that can supply similar metrics.

These are all very sound and reasonable. What’s interesting and significant is the way that PPCall is on the cusp of becoming a more mainstream advertising vehicle. I wrote the following in December 2006:

Mobile, at least in the near term, is the emerging “sweet spot” for PPCall. There are some challenges with PPCall on the desktop that go mainly to query volume . . . 

Recent research from Nielsen and WebVisible shows that the majority of consumers are inclined to use the phone to contact local businesses they discover online vs other contact methods:

  • 68% said they would most likely use the phone number on the website to contact a vendor
  • 16% said they would contact a vendor by email
  • 11% said they would most likely contact a vendor via an online form
  • 6% said they would visit a vendor in-person

That was about five years ago. Only just now is PPCall starting to show the kind of momentum that I and others assumed it would have when it started. Everything takes longer than you think, right?

A range of well-documented challenges (traffic volume, call quality, pricing) have held it back on the PC. Many of those issued have now been addressed by the players and vendors in the segment.

The movement toward PPCall in local is part of a larger movement away from impressions and clicks and toward more “transactional” advertising or marketing. However, right now, the most aggressive adopters of PPCall are national advertisers with call centers.

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