Google is not charging marketers for the service yet, but analysts say it is a sure bet the company will, thereby ushering in the era of “pay-per-call” advertising in earnest.
Starting late last year, the site began showing green phone icons next to selected advertisements that appear with search results. When the icon is clicked, the user is prompted to enter his or her phone number. The phone will then ring, with the business on the other end of the line (dial-up users would have to disconnect from the Internet first).
Likewise, the pay-per-call market has largely been developed by a company called Ingenio, which is based in San Francisco, and has been offering advertisers the service since 2004. Google appears to be building its system (with the help of VoIP Inc., a Florida-based company), while Yahoo is testing a version of the service with Ingenio.