There isn’t much that’s sacred from spam and commercials these days, and it looks as though there is one less safe zone in the works. Internet phone and wireless calls are now considering selling in call advertising. This means that you’ll now be able to listen to a brief advertisement while waiting for the company to connect your call.
The service will allegedly be opt-in with credits offered for participating callers that will help to offset phone bills. But even if the service is opt-in initially, it is highly likely that these short ads are a vision of what is to come. Internet phones are getting more popular and advertisers are working every way they can to reach customers. If it means annoying you while making you wait to talk to Grandma just to get a line of marketing in, that’s what they’ll do. After all, there is a great deal of money involved for companies and advertisers.
The best part, of the worst depending on how you look at it, is that the ads you’re likely to be hearing will be targeted directly to you. Much in the way Google targets ads to related content, your phone advertisements will be targeted to the types of phone calls you make. For example, if you frequently call New York, you may be privileged to enjoy commercials for new flights to New York or New York accommodations.
A Cutting Edge Industry
In call advertising is a relatively new field, but it is already being used by at least one internet phone service and has been a standard practice on calling cards for some time. When a calling card user uses a card to call friends or family in another country, they are subjected to advertisements through a company called VoodooVox.
VoodooVox runs on approximately thirty percent of calling cards and had revenues of $4 million dollars in 2007. While that number may not be overwhelming, the revenues from in call advertising in 2008 are expected to grow ten times over. VoodooVox and others already working to establish the in call advertising practices are well situated to take home a substantial part of the revenue from their brainstorm.
So what are the phone customers to do? While some may tolerate commercials and advertisements better than others, nobody wants to listen to ads while trying to have a personal phone conversation. The ads may be opt-in initially, but that is almost guaranteed to change over time.
Industry personnel are taking potential customer issues seriously. There is a great deal of concern over privacy and other issues relating to sharing of information gathered from the phones. There is also discussion about customer retention. Customers who are intolerant of even the shortest, least intrusive ad will leave the company if there is not a way to stop the ads.
Even if the ads can be turned off, the customers may still leave on principle. One thing is certain – if a customer doesn’t want to listen to the ads, he’ll just find another way to make a phone call – perhaps off the computer or with another company. In call ads are just another means for phone companies to compete.