Corporate Eye

Skype Rolls out Click and Call Advertising for Businesses

skype_marchexSkype has long been known as the site where people can make free online phone calls to anyone at anytime.  Last year, eBay sold the majority share of Skype to a consortium of buyers.  Less than a year later, Skype has partnered with Marchex (an advertising company) to launch a new click and call advertising program.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Businesses sign up for click and call advertising with Skype through Marchex.
  2. Once signed up, advertisers get a blue Free Call button with their listings on various local directory sites (see the image for an example) that consumers are likely to find through keyword searches, such as Yelp.com, YP.com, and more.
  3. A consumer can simply click on the Free Call button in a directory listing where it appears to immediately call the advertiser via Skype.
  4. Advertisers are charged a flat fee per Skype call.
  5. Advertisers can set a pre-determined budget to manage costs, and Marchex provides call analytics reports.

Marchex and Skype are promoting the partnership as a great way for businesses to boost contacts from the 560 million registered Skype users around the world (100 million in the United States).  Check out the video below for more details (or click this link to view it on the Marchex website if you can’t view it below).

The program is still in early stages, and there have been some criticisms because consumers can’t see the Free Call button in some browsers unless they have a specific Skype browser plugin installed.  However, Google offers similar programs in its mobile pay-per-call product and its Google Voice extension for its Chrome browser, which have shown some success, so the expectation is that the Skype program should do well.

It’s an interesting concept that certainly has the chance to attract consumers who are actively looking for information about a specific business or product at the exact moment they need it.  Research shows that leads attracted through click-to-call advertising have the potential to deliver higher conversion rates than other forms of advertising.  I’d imagine we’ll see many retailers testing the Skype program out.  What do you think?

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for Entrepreneur.com and Forbes.com, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as MSNBC.com, BusinessWeek.com, TodayShow.com, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.
 
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