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The number of local search pay-per-call advertising programs monitored by Telmetrics tripled from January 2009 to June 2009, a sign, the firm says, that the recession is causing advertisers with reduced budgets to better track conversions and pay more attention to how traditional media are delivering results.

The call-measurement provider said that advertisers in the “Attorneys,” “Credit & Debt Counseling” and “Dentists” categories demonstrated the highest growth of pay-for-performance advertising adoption.

According to Telmetrics, pay-per-call is growing for the following reasons:

  1. Traditional media need to prove value: In the shadow of more measurable web-based formats, traditional media has been forced to adopt pay-for-performance models, such as pay-per -call, to compete with online, click-driven models. With the challenging economy, advertisers are becoming more comfortable and willing to spend their limited budgets on advertising programs where they pay only for results generated.
  2. There is a greater need for trackable conversions: Performance-driven programs are becoming more closely linked with conversions as advertisers increasingly want to know how many leads turn into sales. Tracking conversions on phone leads linked to demographic and contact information is easily done and advertisers are willing to pay more for these leads, Telmetrics said.
  3. Online advertisers want holistic views of results: Small and medium-sized businesses that have invested in local search-engine marketing are looking for online advertising programs that offer results-driven and easily quantifiable solutions. As the value of a click remains abstract for this audience, trackable phone calls and emails are a critical asset that advertisers easily understand and assign value.

“Marketers in today’s challenging advertising environment – regardless of size – are demanding performance metrics from their advertising partners,” said Bill Dinan, president of Telmetrics. “Advertisers want accountability for their reduced budgets while providers want new sources of revenue. The pay-for-performance model, specifically pay-per- call, delivers both.”

Telmetrics also released call tracking data showing monthly call volume and duration for various traditional and online media, which the firm said is indicative of pay-per-call advertising’s potential across the board:

  • Print Yellow Pages ads average 20.5 calls per month at 2.7 minutes in length
  • Internet Yellow Pages ads average 20 calls per month at 1.3 minutes in length
  • Direct mail ads average 8.4 calls per month at 1.7 minutes in length
  • Interactive/SEM ads average 6.4 calls per month at 1.3 minutes in length

“Looking ahead, we expect to see continued growth in advertising accountability across all media,” added Dinan. “Advertising providers recognize the power of the performance-based model as it adds transparency to a traditional subscription-based advertising program and provides new monetization opportunities.”

?Yellow Pages Must Evolve

Telmetrics also added that as the market changes, it will be key for Yellow Pages publishers, in particular, to adopt such a pay-per-call pricing structure and move away from traditional subscription-based fees.

“The Yellow Pages isn’t dead but it must adapt to the changing media environment to survive,” Dinan said. Citing the call tracking data,? he added that traditional media are still producing high quality leads. However, those conversions often are not monetized.

In support of these findings, recent research from the ANA and Marketing Management Analytics showed that the recession is forcing marketers across the board to assign more focus to accountability and measurement in their marketing programs.

Similarly, the Institute for Public Relations found that even public relations – which has typically enjoyed a relatively low level of ROI accountability compared with other marketing tactics -? is receiving more scrutiny in the measurement department.

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