Google is now testing a new click-to-call service that lets web surfers speak with advertisers on its search results page without having to pick up the phone and dial.
A Web surfer can click a small phone icon adjacent to an PPC ad and enter his or her own phone number and then click a "connect for free" button. Google's system then calls the advertiser's phone number and the surfer just picks up the receiver on his phone, he or she will then hear ringing as the call to the advertiser is connected.
Right now it is not clear how broad the testing is. I did a few sample searches for frequently searched topics, such as "cell phones," "car rental" and "mortgage," and was not able to find any of the icons but fellow SEO blogger Greg Yardley was able to obtain screen shots, which he posted last Wednesday.
Google said it pays for the calls, whether local or long distance the only charges the Web surfer may incur would be airtime fees if they were using a cell phone which is kind of obivious that if you use your cell phone you are spending your cell phone minutes.
Rival Microsoft which of course provides MSNSearch said it had purchased Teleo (announced in August), an Internet calling company with the potential to allow MSN to offer click-to-call capabilities. Time will tell how well this new feature will be recieved by customers and advertizers it seems like a great feature but it will be getting surfers to recognize and use it that will determine the success or failure of this program.
I am not quite sure yet as to my opinion on this. On the surface it looks like a clear winner, however think about the fact that internet users generaly want to scan, research and then contact or buy and you begin to question just how popular this feature is going to become.
We will just have to wait and see,