Google’s on-going research into Click-to-Call has finally been given a full release in Google Maps (Google’s local search offering).
Click-to-Call allows searchers to engage with businesses directly using Internet based telephony. This is ideal for advertisers that don’t have a website or alternatively for organizations that prefer phone based leads rather than website visitors.
According to the Google blog:
“Here’s how it works: Search for a business, like a hardware store, on Google Maps, and click the ‘call’ link next to its phone number. Then, enter your phone number and click ‘Connect For free’. Google calls your phone number and automatically connects you to the hardware store.
There are two things that I really like about this. The business’s phone number is automatically stored in your caller ID so you can easily call back in the future. And by checking the box to remember your phone number, you can make future calls from Google Maps with just two mouse clicks (and picking up your phone, of course).
We’re providing the ‘call’ link as a free service to all businesses. These aren’t ads and don’t influence the ranking of businesses in the search results. We foot the bill for calls (local and long distance), but airtime fees or other mobile fees will still apply if you use a mobile phone number. Currently, the calling feature works if you live in the U.S. and are looking for a business located in the U.S.”
The service is being powered by GTalk (Google Talk) and Skype, with other undisclosed VoIP providers assisting with technology provision. It is this technology framework that allows Google to provide the connection service for free for both advertisers and searchers.
This release combined with other Click-to-Call services by the likes of Windows Live could the fatal blow for traditional telephone directory services that haven’t embraced the digital age.