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Google Dials-In The AdWords

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Updated: Google is finally testing out its Click-to-Call system. (Greg Yardley first reported this news, but I have been slow in getting around to it.) It has been a long time coming. I have been waiting for this since I wrote this piece in September. I believe this is the right strategy for the company to extend its core competence: attaching ads to anything that can be served up as a web-page.

The text ad model had been getting a long in the tooth, and perhaps voice is the application that will help them attract local advertisers. It will also put them on equal footing with Microsoft, which recently showed off their click-to-call offering. Mind you, it lacks the ability to display locations on the maps with click-to-call features built in, at lease for now. (If anyone has seen map-based ads with click to call, do let me know!) The new ad-system also allows them to compete with eBay-Skype.

Here’s how it works: When you click the phone icon, you can enter your phone number. Once you click ‘Connect For Free,’ Google calls the number you provided. When you pick up, you hear ringing on the other end as Google connects you to the other party. Then, chat away on our dime.

As Rick pointed out, this doesn’t seem to be as true a click to call as the one I saw at Microsoft’s demo, I am pretty certain it uses the VoIP technology to transport the calls to the point where it hits the PSTN network. I am waiting for the experts like Aswath to write in. This does not leverage the desktop client. Okay does this service remind you of the switchboard operators of the yore ;-)

It seems to be a limited beta. Incase you folks were wondering who that third party supplying technology for this service, I will get that information to you tomorrow after I confirm the name of the company. I know which one it is, but still want to make sure before I get the word out!

Alec Saunders has posted on his weblog, how the system likely works. Venkatesh weighs in as well. Aswath thinks Call Me Link is a better option.

16 Responses to “Google Dials-In The AdWords”

  1. Canada’s Yellow Pages Directory has it running in the Toronto area. See or, do a category search in the city of toronto for example auto dealers. You’ll see a click to call button on certain listings and just follow the instructions. Pretty impressive…watch the dialogue box on your pc as the call is placed. Everything is tracked (# of rings, duration of call) which means auditable. Technology supplier is Engenio but don’t underestimate value of database behind it. As far as maps, well each listing has a map function as well unless it has a national number for multiple locations.

  2. Great analysis Venkatesh. Much more detailed than what I had done. We’re both thinking along the same lines though. I’ve been writing quite a bit recently on a topic I call Voice 2.0 which is the intersection of Web 2.0 and voice.

  3. Alex,
    Its interesting to read your comments about one would go about building a VOIP system. It would be a three pronged approach

    1. A VOIP server ( as you had pointed out)
    2. Automated voice/ keyboard request automation,similar to the Voice Based IVR we are used to in PSTN
    3. API for allowing embedding click to call in HTML capable screen.

    More here

  4. Sunil Chhaya

    Hey, I just used that click-to-call thing yesterday from Canada (a Customer Service tool used by TD Canada Trust Bank), and it was pretty cool. I got a call instantaneously from their customer service person – a live person at that!! No waiting listening to elevator music etc. The only glitch in this grand scheme of things was that I still did not get the work done for which I made the call!! So, in the end, it’s the ‘behind-the-scenes’ processes that have to be upgraded so that the company derives the maximum value out of these tools.

  5. Google Click-to-Call works fine with the Camino browser on OS X (I just tested it). Even if you still think there’s a problem, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t make blanket statements about Google or Mac OS based on an anecdotal experience in a very non-standard configuration. I appreciate your interest and reporting on Click-to-Call though.

  6. venkatesh,

    from what i understand is that they are using voip as transport – not using “voip client on desktop” for now. i think it would be, as you point out, fairly easy to bring this “desktop client aka google talk to call out functionality” to the market for them.

  7. OM,
    As you said its not a VoIP thing “yet”. Its just call redirecting via a third party. Its on the lines of AOL-Ingenio “per per call” concept. But I don’t think it would take much to make it a “click to call” via Google Talk. Besides for smaller advertisers, they cannot have 24/7 call centers to take these calls, so it would be convinient for them to have a call back number to pursue any leads when people are available.

  8. i am currrently using the camino browser, and well, the mac browser is not showing any random click-to-call ads. however i saw some when using a PC browser. just thought it might be something others say it as well.