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Are mobile click-to-call ads effective?

When it comes to mobile advertising, the goal for most brands and retailers is to drive possible sales and leads. Therefore, including a click-to-call feature is a natural way for companies to create a one-on-one relationship with consumers.

Despite all the bells and whistles in mobile advertising, sometimes a simple click-to-call feature can be an effective way for brands to take advantage of the one universal feature of mobile phones ? a phone call. However, similar to all mobile marketing, click-to-call advertising does not work for every company and is best suited for brands looking to drive sales in a more traditional way.

?Sometimes on a smartphone that can do so many sophisticated things, it is easy to forget that the best solution for a marketer can often be the simplest one,? said Brendon Kraham, team manager of global mobile sales and strategy at Google, Mountain View, CA.

?In many cases, especially on mobile, it can be more useful for both a business and a potential customer to speak with someone on the phone rather than look for information on a Web site,? he said.
?Click-to-call ads are designed to make it easier for businesses and customers to connect via phone calls on mobile,? he said.

?Today, click-to-call ads drive an average of ten million calls every week for Google advertisers. Making a call is a very natural behavior on our phones, and that has been a big reason for the product?s success.?

Local intent
Google recently claimed to be on track to generate $2.5 billion in revenue from its mobile advertising, a large chunk of which is driven by click-to-call formats (see story). 

In particular, click-to-call ads can be effective for brands looking to target mobile users at a local level while they are searching on their devices for nearby results. 

Depending on a business? objective, advertisers can direct users to either a local phone number or a national call center, which can help brands segment their campaigns.

For example, Smile Designer, a dentist practice in Washington, recently began using mobile ads to target local users with mobile-specific keywords, a map and click-to-call feature.

Since starting the ad campaign, Smile Designer?s click-through-rate for mobile devices has increased 74 percent. The cost-per-click for the company decreased by 34 percent as well.

?Not surprisingly, businesses that value call leads have seen great results with click-to-call ads,? Mr. Kraham said. 

?Often these are businesses that benefit from being able to discuss more complex issues and answer customer questions over the phone,? he said.

?We are seeing businesses across a variety of verticals and of many different sizes benefit from using click-to-call ads.? 

Click for information
?Making a phone call is still the most natural function on a mobile device,? said Jason Spievak, CEO of RingRevenue, Santa Barbara, CA.

?People will shop and browse offers, but for bigger-ticket items, people still want to call,? he said.

According to Mr. Spievak, mobile click-to-call advertising can be effective if used by the correct types of companies.

A brand-oriented ad might be more interested in driving impressions instead of getting a user to pick up the phone.

Finance, education, automotive, high-end electronics and travel are all examples of industries where click-to-call mobile ads make sense because they are used to promote more complex things that users most likely have questions about.

Mobile ads that promote events with ticketing is a good example of how a company can add a click-to-call option to give users a direct way to connect.

For example, Cirque Du Soleil recently used a mobile ad campaign to promote its Zumanity show in New York that let users contact the company directly to order tickets (see story).

Mr. Spievak said that mobile is the fastest-growing channel for RingRevenue and the company sees almost half of the calls generated coming from mobile publishers. Based on the natural tie between phone calls and mobile advertising, the executive expects that the percentage will increase in 2012. 

Mobile shift
According to Alexey Aylarov, founder/CEO of Zingaya, London, mobile click-to-call advertising is revolutionizing customer service for companies.

In the past, a consumer might have to fill out a form on a company?s Web site to contact a business. With click-to-call, brands can automatically connect with consumers.

However, brands need to also think about how adding a click-to-call feature can enhance an overall mobile campaign. 

Although a simple click-to-call feature might be effective in connecting with consumers, it can also be combined with other rich features that let a consumer interact with a brand more.

For example, a click-to-call feature can be used with store locators, directions and mcommerce efforts to give consumers as many options as possible that might turn into a lead or sale.

Given the small size of mobile phones, placement is a key part of developing a successful mobile campaign.

?It has to be simple for the end user,? Mr. Aylarov said.

?The best thing you can do is to make it simple and place the call to action in the right place because on smartphones, there can be a lot of content to fit on a small screen,? he said. 

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York