A newly published patent application (first filed on June 30, 2004) shows that Google is looking to patent a method to provide click-to-call advertising on mobile phones. Kevin Newcomb's story: Google Looks to Patent Mobile Click-to-call Ads, offers a overview of the app and comments from Kelsey Group's, Greg Sterling.
Google is keeping its plans quiet, providing a statement saying only, "Like many companies, we file patent applications on a variety of ideas that our employees may come up with. Some of those ideas later mature into real products or services, some don't. Prospective product announcements should not be inferred from our patent applications."
The application sets forth a method of scoring ads based on the various limitations of a client device, relevance of ads to users -- both contextual and behavioral -- CPM and CPC price, user preferences, and other "performance parameters." The score would determine which ad or ads to serve, as well as whether to link the user to a Web page or connect to an advertiser via phone call.
"Everybody talks about pay-per-call in wireless as a natural business model," Greg Sterling, program director at the Kelsey Group, told ClickZ News." There's definitely a lot of interest among advertisers in receiving phone calls. Our data indicate that 71 percent of small and mid-sized businesses would rather receive a phone call than a click in a performance-based ad model."
The complete patent application can be found here.
Google wasn't the only search provider having patent apps published last week. In this post, I link to seven newly published "search related" patent apps from Microsoft.
Postscript From Danny: As a reminder, Google has already been testing click to call ads, as covered here, Google Begins Test of "Click-to-Call" Advertising Program