Dials the Phone for Search Advertising

The paid-search provider launches a pay-per-call program that replaces links to Web sites with old-fashioned, toll-free phone numbers. Inc. on Tuesday launched a new search-based advertising program that lets advertisers pay based on phone calls to their businesses rather than on Web site clicks.

Called pay-per-call, the program works similarly to sponsored-links programs, where advertisers bid for a higher placement in paid search results. But instead of having a link that takes users to their Web sites, advertisers can display a toll-free number.

When consumers decide to call the number, they will be connected to the advertisers place of business, and the advertiser will be charged for the per-call rate for which they bid to run the ad, announced., of Fort Myers, Fla., is targeting the service at companies that do not have Web sites or prefer that leads come offline rather than online.

The program will go live first on FindWhat.coms network of advertisers and distribution partners. The first ads should begin appearing on partner sites this month, Rick Szatkowski, a senior vice president and general manager, said in an e-mail interview.

Next year, the company plans to roll out pay-per-call to its private-label customers that use FindWhat.coms technology for their own ad networks, Szatkowski said.

"The pay-per-call service brings our online marketplace to a larger audience—offering access to offline advertisers and, as we intend in the future, to offline publishers," chairman and CEO Craig Pisaris-Henderson said in a statement. "We believe pay-per-call is truly a groundbreaking advertising service."

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read more about advertisings role in reviving the Web search-engine market.

The program is a partnership with Ingenio Inc., of San Francisco, which provides the technology for the application.

One difference from pay-per-click ads is that advertisers in the pay-per-call programs bid on relevant categories rather than on search keywords, and they select a geographic target for the ad such as a city, region, state or nation, said.

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