Pay Per Call Model – maybe for small businesses in some situations

I was linked an article on pay per call pricing model for web sites.  This means the web site works to generate leads and only charges if it results in a phone call to the client company. 

At a technical level this means that the pay-per-call provider does not want the prospect to call the company directly, but rather through a tracking telephone number so they can fairly measure the number of calls generated.  This will work.  It will result in calls.  But it seems a short sighted overall strategy because;

1) It omits the value of branding. The company is paying for the leads alone, nothing more.
2) Contacts will continue to call the tracking number in the future reporting false positive matches on inbound calls. 
3) You are going to market as someone else’s brand, so not only are you not getting the branding value but you are also paying to build someone else brand!
4) If you end your contract that pay-per-call company can, and will, redirect the campaign to a competitor.  Given the importance of tenure on the Internet this could be a real problem effectively locking you into the pp-call program.

All of that said, yes there are times when this model will work for some businesses.  But it is definitely not as Earth shattering as Pay-per-click advertising has been with the low cost of entry, performance based pricing and free branding side affects.

MSN profile data mixed with adwords

From AdAge, this is the next logical step in pay per click.  Although it is hard to tell from the article if this actually is PPC or if it is more targeted marketing based on demographics.  So here is the quote and commentary below.

MSN LINKS KEYWORD SEARCH TO DEMOGRAPHIC DATABASE
New Feature Enables Marketers to Target Search Engine Ads at Specific Groups
September 26, 2005
By Kris Oser

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) — In a effort to technologically outflank Yahoo and Google, Microsoft Corp. will launch a new U.S. keyword paid-search program that enables marketers to target their keyword buys at specific consumer segments.  The new feature links keyword search techniques to MSN.com’s demographic database of 400 million registered users.

AdCenter allows advertisers to draw from MSN’s 400 million users worldwide who have registered for MSN’s Passport, Hotmail or Messenger services.

AdCenter allows advertisers to draw from MSN’s 400 million users worldwide who have registered for MSN’s Passport, Hotmail or Messenger services. Based on the demographic information those users provided, the advertiser can then target commercial messages based on geographic location, gender, age range, time of day and day of week. MSN can then also overlay additional data rented from database marketing companies, such as wealth index and psychographic information, to target more specifically.

(full article)

I added the emphasis and underlining.  Here is the deal, the web responds like direct marketing in PPC and SEO *because* the user *at that moment* typed in a specific term.  They have told you two things; first what they are interested in (dishes, BMW, etc) and second WHEN they are interested in it (RIGHT NOW!). 

The challenge with classic direct marketing is that repetition is key because there is only so much you can do to predict the timing but you can characterize that this group is likely to buy this object or service.  With direct mail you just keep hitting them with letters or cards or whatever trying to reach them WHEN they become interested buyers.  Let them buy when they are predisposed buyers.  The genius of search marketing is both questions are answered.  You know what the buyer is interested in and when they are interested.  So the program above from MSM is cool but classic DM.  It won’t be the surprise hit that search engine marketing has been with targeted buyers and a pay as you go pricing model that small business can afford.  It will be added value in the marketing mix.