Explains Ingenio Acquisition CEO Charles Stubbs made a surprise appearance at ILM:07/ SES Local today to talk about AT&T’s acquisition of call tracking provider Ingenio.

The acquisition didn’t get the mainstream spotlight for the most part; admittedly, it’s not the sexiest announcement out there. But it is big, and has gotten a nod in certain local search circles (Kelsey Group post here; and of Frank Watson posted about the deal here on SEW).

This comes down to a unifying call tracking platform to integrate with AT&T disparate media channels including, AT&T print directories and directional advertising that will emerge in new places such as IPTV.

“With all of the assets of AT&T, we needed a cross platform ad tool,” said Stubbs. “This will be a common business platform to communicate to small business when our local sales reps sit down with them.”

Stubbs admitted that selling clicks has been a great business for local (TMP Directional Media CEO Stuart McKelvey later presented data showing that more than 80 percent of local online advertising is resold by yellow pages sales channels). But a call is closer to most small businesses (and to the cash register) than a click is. This is especially true for certain categories such as trade services — a huge local category.

Ingenio effectively brings this call tracking capability across AT&T media assets:”And Ingenio is more than call tracking,” said Stubbs. “It gives us a platform for fraud protection, a self serve ad store and dynamic procurement across assets.”

More importantly, it allows AT&T to execute better ad bundling to small businesses including clicks and calls across different forms of media including those mentioned above.

“There is a lot of fragmentation in the way consumers take in content. If we build 20 brands we’ll split our audience,” says Stubbs. “This is an attempt to unify our brands. It will be all about execution which won’t be easy. But we’ll continue to put smart people on it and get it done.”

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