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20/09/2012 by

Mobile Marketing PPC: Awesome But Messed Up

Instead of spending money to generate impressions, placements or branding, marketers increasingly want quantifiable numbers they can track.

Mobile Marketing Pay-Per-Call: Awesome but Messed Up

That’s one of the reasons mobile pay-per-call is growing so rapidly.

A recent article in Forbes magazine surmised that pay-per-call will eventually produce 10x more revenue for Google than pay-per-click. Everyone from Google to IYPs are monetizing pay-per-call. Everyone wins. It allows marketers to pay only for the calls they receive. And it allows publishers to monetize something (calls) that had been an afterthought before mobile.

How Does Pay-Per-Call Work?

Pay-Per-Call is Pay-Per-Click for mobile.

When someone searches on a mobile phone, they see ads that contain tap-able phone numbers. If you tap that number you call the business. And publishers like Google charge the advertiser for each time the number is tapped.


Google has written copious case studies about click-to-call (CTC) and pay-per-call. Here’s a summary of several of those case studies.

Why Pay-Per-Call is Awesome

Pay-Per-Call is awesome because it works. Mobile marketing produces phone calls disproportionately. Let’s face it, making a phone call on a mobile phone is a simple and natural thing to do.

Nielsen reports that mobile searches result in phone calls over 70% of the time. Pay-Per-Call easily connects searches to businesses instantly.

Additionally, research shows that mobile leads (mobile callers) are significantly farther down the sales funnel than leads from other sources. They take action more frequently and more quickly. (Google says that 90% of mobile searches result in action in one day! If someone calls you from their mobile phone they are ready to buy.

Why Pay-Per-Call is a Mess

Current Pay-Per-Call Pricing Models

Right now the pay-per-call pricing models fall into two basic categories.

Category 1

Pay a pre-determined price per each call generated. (Ex. Every call costs $2).

Category 2

Pay a set price for calls over a certain duration. (Ex. Calls over 2 minutes cost $9 and calls under 2 minutes cost $3)

These pricing models are basic and, frankly, inaccurate. They blatantly ignore the most important thing about the call when determining its worth: what happened during it.

What is said during the call is more critical than the length of the call. And yet, duration is the current determinate of call quality, call value, and call pricing, in the pay-per-call world. Mobile marketers, lead generators, aggregators and buyers are basing pricing models and call quality on call length.

Our message is simple: this is sort of dumb.

For instance, isn’t it possible that a call lasting 90 seconds is a better lead than a call that lasting 3 minutes? And wouldn’t the buyer gladly pay more for that shorter call, if the caller was, in fact, a better lead?

Yes is the answer to both questions.

Pay Per Call

Pay-Per-Call Examples

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.

Call 1: Jack calls Geico to ask about car insurance. Jack says that he is from Newport Beach, CA. Jack mentions he has a clean driving record and that he has two BMWs. He also says he is moving in 4 weeks. This call lasts 1 minute and 38 seconds.

Call 2: Jim calls Geico to ask about car insurance. He says he is from Provo, UT. He says he had a few tickets last year. He’s calling about a Honda Civic. This call lasts around 2 minutes and 35 seconds.

Which lead is better? Of course, for a variety of reasons, the answer is Call 1. However, under the current pay-per-call model, which call would cost more? Call 2.

That simply doesn’t makes sense.

Anyone in the pay-per-call food chain needs to start caring about content of the calls and what that content can tell them. Without this information pay-per-call marketers, lead generators and buyers are simply flying blind.


Jason Wells is the CEO of ContactPoint. Their new product, LogMyCalls, represents the next generation of intelligent call tracking and marketing automation.

Prior to joining ContactPoint, Jason served as the Senior Vice President of Sony International, where he led the creation and international expansion of Sony’s mobile business line from London.

Jason has spoken on marketing topics at SES New York, SES Toronto, Ad Tech, Digital Hollywood, Nokia World, The Microsoft Partners Conference, CTIA and elsewhere. Jason holds an MBA from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.


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Comments (3)

  • Katia BIlleci 21/09/2012, 16:43

    I want to first thank you for this great info! I am doing some research and testing on this service now to possibly add to our recommended services if we find it works. I respect you opinion, but also would say that if you are on such a program, your company should have standard sales procedures in place to know right away, if you will be able to help this lead out or if you are wasting both the lead and the sales person’s time. This would avoid a greater charge from a not so hot lead. In general, if you have engaged a lead this will take longer and the interaction will be of value to your company whether they purchase today or not. Secondly, I believe this model may have been seeded in the internet company’s weight and authority given to sites whose visitors remain on page, (Time on Site measurement). When compared to PayPerClick, one would spend the same $ whether the visitor was on site for 2 seconds or 2 hours. Are there any case studies out there? Thanks again for the great info

  • Katia BIlleci 21/09/2012, 16:45

    To be clear, I was asking about 3rd part case studies 😉

  • My Sales Dialer (CRM+) 26/09/2012, 14:53

    Mobile marketing is an crucial component of any successful company plan, and understanding the diverse techniques is also crucial…