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Search Engine Journal points to an AP article that reports Verizon is testing pay-per-phone-call ad auctions in a Boston-area print book. A generic ad is given and "dynamically assigned," meaning it connects users to whatever local business won the auction for calls. My colleague Charles Laughlin wrote about this recently, following comments from Verizon’s Eric Chandler about PPC at Drilling Down on Local, and it will be explored further in an upcoming Advisory.

The example given in the AP article is for a car service, but Verizon plans to expand the ads to Florist, Chiropractor and Hair Salon categories in 500 other print books. Calls so far have averaged about US$3, although some have gone up to the US$15 range. eStara is managing the PPC service.

Though there is growing demand in the market for pay-for-performance advertising and the discernable ROI it offers, print books have largely been slow to offer it because it could potentially threaten current models. This is a significant move for Verizon, likely driven by the demand in the marketplace for PFP advertising and the shift in the marketplace to online advertising and paid search. The panel at Drilling Down on Local devoted to SME advertisers and their local ad spending echoed this shift loudly.

In addition, the AP article points out that the dynamic assignment of advertisers not traditionally present in the book (present online), will allow for flexibility and a perpetual revenue stream. Robyn Rose, vice president of Internet marketing for Verizon, said as much in the article:

"One of our challenges, of course, with the print medium, is that once it's printed, it's there for a year," Rose said. "By doing this, there's actually an update daily of who will receive the calls based on the top daily bid."

An interesting development by Verizon. We'll see where it goes, and who else follows suit.

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