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Recently, BIA/Kelsey had the opportunity to spend time with Bill Dinan, president of Telmetrics, including a one-on-one Q&A session at the Local Search Association conference on April 24. During the Q&A session and subsequent conversations we spoke about mobile, sales and quality of calls among other things.

Especially in the Yellow Pages space, Telmetrics’ name has been synonymous with pay per call and call tracking as it has brought these solutions to this industry for more than 20 years. BIA/Kelsey views these products along with call analytics as tightly related and important to the local media industry. We’re closely watching the pay-per-call space and, as such, will be releasing a forecast on the topic in the near future.

Today, while traditional media remains a solid part of its business, nearly three-quarters of Telmetrics’ 3 million-plus lines are now used by digital search companies for tracking online and mobile calls. Let me do the math for you…that’s more than 2 million lines (from just one player) focused on online and mobile.

That shift to mobile, not surprisingly, has skyrocketed in recent years. In fact, according to BIA/Kelsey, mobile local searches will surpass desktop local searches by 2016. One of the clear takeaways from our conversations with Dinan was, as he calls it, a shift from search to “find,” especially on a mobile device. He makes an interesting distinction here and perhaps we need to rethink our own “search” terminology in future forecasts.

Per Dinan’s thinking, search engines have provided a great search opportunity, but Yellow Pages and vertical media, for instance, have always been much more targeted on the “find.” The need to “find,” especially for time-strapped mobile users amplifies this point. Or, another way to put it, mobile users seek a targeted I-need-to-buy-something-now approach. And to his point, as usage grows on mobile devices, the “find” will be increasingly more important to businesses that want to be found.

“What people used to think is that they’d go search online and click and save the phone number […to a local business],” said Dinan. “That hasn’t happened. It’s no longer about searching because on a mobile device they can go to an app to find what they need. “

This search vs. find proposition comes into play with regard to cost per call. To draw from the presentation given by Mary Boysman of Aspen Dental earlier at the LSA conference, she said vendors are always looking for a way to lower her cost per call. Paraphrasing Boysman, she said she’s not interested in a lower cost per call. She’ll pay more for quality calls.

Dinan obviously concurs with Boysman on this point and notes that the sales conversations needs to be about ROI, inferring that the opportunity for directory publishers is to take its advertisers and put them on mobile platforms (wherever that may be) so they can be found when a buyer is looking for what they need. Dinan makes a good point as phone calls have long been the currency that directory publishers have hung their hat on and it’s the same currency in mobile.

“It’s not about lower cost per lead. It’s about leads in the funnel that will convert,” said Dinan.

Regarding the quality of calls, Telmetrics is currently blocking 35 percent to 40 percent of all inbound calls daily due to telemarketer activity.

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