Although marketers spend $4 billion each year to drive so-called “clicks-to-call,” a new study from Marchex reveals that business generated when consumers tap on a click-to-call ad or search result on a mobile device totals in excess of $1 trillion each, according to Tom Grubisich of StreetFightMag. For the most part, very local services are receiving these calls, such as auto dealers, spas, dentists, locksmiths, plumbers, and veterinarians, to name just some.

The report, the “2015 Click-to-Call Commerce Mobile Performance Report” was just released by Marchex, a Seattle-based mobile advertising analytics company that built a model to assist businesses in achieving what CEO and co-founder Peter Christothoulou calls the “most direct, engaging and successful” connection with a consumer, a true one-on-one conversation, writes Grubisich, who is author of “The New News” column for Street Fight and is the editorial director of hyper local news network Local America. Marchex analyzed 24 million calls over an 18-month period with the numbers called becoming “mobile cookies,” Christothoulou said. StreetFightMag noted that personally identifiable information was redacted prior to call analysis.

Many of the calls credited with producing the trillion-dollar business began with commercial pure-play mobile platforms, and much of these arise during ad campaigns. “But community news platforms, I think, are also well positioned to capitalize on click-to-call,” says Grubisich, noting that, “Local merchants are their bread-and-butter.”

“I think click-to-calls hold an amazing amount of potential,” says Kenny Katzgrau, CEO and co-founder of Broadstreet Ads, an ad management and serving firm for numerous independent community sites. “Several of our publishers have noted that although an ad might receive .25 percent click-through rate, it results in quite a few calls for the advertiser. We’ve been working on a few ad formats to address this—an ad that is bold and makes clear that you can click on the ad and get in touch with the business right now. Additionally, these ads are in-stream as opposed to pushed to the bottom of a column, as most mobile ads are.”

Grubisich explains that publishers promote relationships with their peer entrepreneurs. Editors, who are often also publishers, will write or assign stories on local businesses. Today, community mobile screens are able to access technology stream click-to-call ads to the places that offer the most consumer views right during that day’s top stories, Grubisich points out.

Marchex’s Christothoulou told Grubisich that, “Any publisher looking to improve their monetization should consider click-to-call ads as part of the experience. And if they do, depending on the content, there are opportunities. The key is ensuring the ads are relevant to the content and enhance the user experience, not detract.”

The Marchex report reveals that click-to-calls from mobile produce conversions, such as sales, appointments, or reservations, which occur four times more frequently than desktop ads. Because of this strong rate-of-return, the report forecasts that click-to-calls will produce $1.94 trillion in sales by 2019, Grubisich writes. Key consumers appear to be millennials—individuals aged 18 to 34—according to the Marchex report. To derive benefits, community news sites must feature content designed to drive millennials and, to date, the sites may do this, may not do this well, or may not do this consistently, according to the report.

The Marchex report also revealed what has long been known, that calls are frequently not answered at businesses and often produce conversations that do not satisfy consumers. For example, potential customers hung up on 24 percent of calls made to local businesses, according to the report. One key reason was the long waits for call answering or calls simply not being answered. “This is a huge percentage, which should motivate advertisers to focus on the call experience,” the report indicates.


Grubisich, Tom. Click-to-Calls Are Clicking — And a Lot of the Sales Are Close to Home; August 6, 2015.