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How pay-per-call advertising can complement other channels

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Bill Dinan is president of Telmetrics (www.telmetrics.com), a provider of advertising call-measurement solutions. “Straight Line” recently asked him about best practices in pay-per-call advertising.

Straight Line: What is pay-per-call and how does it work?

Bill Dinan: With pay-per-call, advertisers pay an incremental price for each call generated by an ad. Phone calls are captured and measured through the use of unique phone numbers displayed in each ad or campaign.

Pay-per-call advertising can be used in all media types to measure the direct response of a specific campaign. This includes display ads, online directories, landing pages and e-mail marketing campaigns, as well as traditional media. The beauty of pay-per-call is, like any other performance-driven ad model, it can be a low-risk option for advertisers, since they only pay if the ad provides qualified phone leads. SL: How does pay-per-call integrate with other marketing channels?

Dinan:: Pay-per-call is both similar and complementary to pay-per-click advertising. Used together, they provide a more complete picture of the lead-generation impact of a specific ad, a medium type or an overall campaign by tracking both online and offline activity.

With more than 83% of customers using the Web first for research, then contacting a business offline, tracking online behavior alone is not capturing other valuable activity from marketing initiatives. Pay-per-call closes this gap.

SL: Explain a bit more about metrics?

Dinan: Incoming phone calls are a known, tangible metric with true lead-generation impact. Beyond that, pay-per-call provides more complete visibility into ad or campaign performance, allowing marketers to use the data to better allocate their budgets. It is easy to discern the best performer when you track calls generated by a unique phone number in one campaign and you track a separate unique number in a different campaign.

SL: What factors are most important in implementing a pay per call program?

Dinan: The most challenging part is defining a billable call. Each vertical industry has a different sales time line and process that goes into determining the value of an inbound phone call. For example, the value of a call to an office cleaning company is different than the value of a call to a dentist.

To price appropriately, marketers and advertising brokers must understand such things as the value of an average sale, or how many calls it takes to close a sale, and set benchmarks for the duration of a billable call. Also, call durations are relative to different media types and must be thought of that way when setting benchmarks.

SL: What trends are you seeing with pay-per-call? Dinan: I see growth ahead as marketers and agencies incorporate inbound phone calls into their performance models to complement other metrics. One reason is it can help enable digital media to capture and present a more holistic view of advertising performance that is easily understood.

In the natural evolution of the model's growth, there also will be a closer evaluation of what can be done with the performance data that are generated. As an example, advertisers using pay-per-call have access to demographics information, call duration, call content (via call recording) and repeat callers. Marketers increasingly will explore new ways to use that data.

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