In its most recent earnings call, Google talked about the success of its click-to-call ads, which are apparently "generating millions of calls every month." By all reports, click-to-call in search results are most successful on mobile platforms, which makes sense.
When combined with other mobile-oriented search ad options offered by Google, such as the map-plus box, location extensions, and the recently added coupon offerings, just-in-time search is getting a lot more just-in-timier. I recently saw some of this trend in action.
A young colleague did a quick check to see where a recently recommended restaurant was located, which he found, and then saw there was a coupon offer, which he noted, and then he clicked on the click-to-call link to see if there was a table. There was. We enjoyed our lunch and when it was time to pay, he whipped his iPhone out, pulled the coupon, the waiter punched something in (I couldn't see what) -- and voila! Our lunch was half price.
As I've written before, the quiet API revolution is producing a growing number of apps in which a search query yields not only a search result but the opportunity to complete a transaction, all within the convenience of that app (i.e., Fandango, the American Airlines app, and Siri). A year ago I thought that maybe Google might get left behind, given all this in-app searching and transactional activity.
Not so fast, right?
Google's growing range of mobile-oriented search features means search marketers have more and more opportunity to not only direct mobile users into their stores, but to entice them in with coupons, special offers and the like. Moreover, for searchers who may be highly motivated, offering a click-to-call option means companies with no brick-and-mortar locations can get at meaningful lead generation or close phone-based transactions.
For instance, here in the Bay Area there is a well-known local business that does in-home carpet, drape and tile cleaning and uses click-to-call ads. Often, folks who have an emergency (for instance, a house guest spills red wine on a new white carpet) click to call, which turns into a reservation for a visit by one of the company's cleaners.
Add to all this Google Merchant and other services I'm sure I'm failing to mention, and search marketers have a treasure trove of mobile-oriented tools that make just-in-time search and decision-making so much more action oriented. And because just-in-time mobile search queries often happen outside of working hours, the category doesn't seem to be cannibalizing desktop searches (at least by some measures.)
If you haven't begun experimenting with mobile search advertising for your business, it may be time to start trying some experiments.