Future: Google Phone Advertising

The week's biggest surprise that some (not I) saw coming: Google is entering the phone-over-IP market. It made it to the Times Online today, which explains the rationale: "Google telephone service could be made to link with the Google search engine, which already conducts half of all internet inquiries made around the world. A surfer looking for a clothes retailer could simply find the web site and click on the screen to speak to the shop."

There are a couple of ways this can work. You could search for a local Krespy Kreme donuts shop (or any other commercial or residential contact info), and Google PhoneBook would give you the address and the phone number that you could call up right away (especially if you are browsing the net with your PDA or cell phone). Or you could be searching for a local car dealership, notice a text ad with a phone number, and instead of going to the company's website, you click on a link to talk to a live rep. Google would be charging the advertiser on a new and more accurate, pay-per-call model.

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