November 28, 2005 6:06 PM PST

Hello, this is Google, your operator, speaking

Google has begun testing a new click-to-call service that lets people speak with advertisers on its search results page without having to pick up the phone and dial.

A Web surfer can click a phone icon adjacent to an ad, enter his or her own phone number and then click a "connect for free" button. Google's service calls the advertiser's phone number and when the Web surfer picks up the receiver on his phone, he or she hears ringing as the call to the advertiser is connected, according to a Google Click-to-Call frequently-asked-questions page.

Unlike voice over Internet Protocol, a technology that sends voice transmission over the Internet, this service appears to connect two parties over the regular phone lines. However, Google declined to provide more details, including the specifics of the technology employed.

"We won't share your telephone number with anyone, including the advertiser," the FAQ states. "When you're connected with the advertiser, your number is blocked so the advertiser can't see it. In addition, we'll delete the number from our servers after a short period of time."

It was unclear how broad the test is. A few sample searches for frequently searched topics, such as "shoes," "electronics" and "mortgage," failed to turn up any of the icons. However, blogger Greg Yardley was able to obtain screen shots, which he posted last Wednesday.

Google said it pays for the calls, whether local or long distance. However, the Web surfer may incur airtime fees depending on the mobile phone plan used, the FAQ said.

"Google is always considering new ways to provide value to its advertisers and we frequently run tests of potential new features and products," the company said in a statement sent via e-mail. "We are currently conducting a limited test of a pay-per-call model, but we don't have any additional information to share at this time."

Allowing customers to reach advertisers through the computer could increase the value of online ads, particularly for companies like Google, which reaps nearly all of its revenue from advertising.

In August, Microsoft said it had purchased Teleo, an Internet calling company with the potential to allow MSN to offer click-to-call capabilities.

IBM has said it will integrate click-to-call technology from Avaya in Lotus Notes and other applications. And Yahoo has tested click-to-call in instant messaging.


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Thats a great idea, how do they come up with these things? Ha, well I guess it because that most of their money comes from Ads by Gooooooogle, they try to get the most out of it.
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Posted by Roman12 (214 comments )
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How dumb is that
So how long is it before someone figures out you could enter just about anyone's phone number, not your own and create: PHONE SPAM!

So they then tell us the track your IP address to discourage you from doing that, so what. What if your IP has been hijacked by a WiFi interloper or is part of a bot net - then what? It means that someone can then launch a distributed DoS attack on someone's phone number - in the middle of the night most likely, or an attack on an advertiser and all thanks to Google... So they retrict it to signed up Google users, so what - how many tens of thousands of those are owned by spammers now anyway? That's still a lot of bogus phone calls that could be launched at will.

I'm sorry, the only way I want someone calling me via the web is if there is some strong authentication or the authorization comes from my phone line in the first place. I.e. give me a Google 800 number to call, enter a pin and then then Google calls me back with the advertiser on the end of the line. In fact, if Google is routing calls why do they even need to call me back - can't they just dial the advertiser for me?

I expect half the reason is that the connection via Google is made by VoIP. They don't want to route and have to pay for a regular call - but they can make two VoIP calls and connect them together in the middle with a minimum of fuss and expense.

But... they could still give me an 800 number to call from the phone I want called back, that would eliminate the chance of phone spam.
Posted by whogrant (32 comments )
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Just wait 'til g-browser (firefox) is integrated...
...we'll see some real PC/telephony integration then, methinks.

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Posted by MercilessUnicorn (31 comments )
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I think that Google is the best source to look for
infirmation. I get a lot of help from Google.
I hope that Google will remain on the internet.
Have a very Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year.
Posted by jeanne.boverson (1 comment )
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Bravo Google, Bravo!
Google once again has proven itself as a true ally for the consumer, employing technologies to provide greater service to the consumer....
Posted by Der_Amerikaner (9 comments )
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