Pay per phone call (PPCall) probably qualifies as something of a disappointment to date. While there has been adoption by advertisers and some good results, revenues have not kept pace with early expectations (which, admittedly, I helped create). In mobile it’s a natural business model and that may be the arena in which PPCall ultimately lives up to its potential.
Despite this, PPCall remains a fascinating and promising marriage of performance-based advertising with a traditional medium (the phone). And it can go anywhere a phone number can go. Indeed, Idearc/SuperPages has been using PPCall in its printed yellow pages for over a year. Now thinkingVOICE and Clear Channel Outdoor have teamed up to offer PPCall on billboards and bus shelters.
In a test with 50 outdoor placements, PPCall ads will appear for local search vertical destination ServiceMagic (owned by IAC). ServiceMagic will pay for each call received based on the outdoor ads. If the test is a success I would imagine more advertisers will be interested and start experimenting. Billboard owners may not be so thrilled with such a development, however, because of a potential loss of revenue — the owner of the inventory bears the risk of non-performance. (In other words, it becomes free branding for advertisers if no calls are made.)
Outdoor advertising is worth more than $6 billion in the U.S. annually.