Skype just announced a new business spin-off of their popular VOIP service partnering with European Directories to offer free click-to-call services for their business listings (free to the consumer at least). Pretty much it takes your typical yellow pages a step further by allowing the user to connect directly to the service provider by clicking on a “Free Call” button attached to each listing. According to their press release, this will provide free consumer phone calls for up to 700,000 business across Europe. The most interesting part of this deal is that the Skype/European Directories partnership doesn’t end with just covering directory services. Skype plans on offering each company the ability to embed the “Free Call” button anywhere else on the web that their number is posted.
Is there a catch? Of course there is. In order for you to be able to use (or probably even see) the click-to-call button you will need to have both the latest version of Skype for Windows installed in addition to the latest Skype browser plug-ins. This now sounds more like a click-to-download promotion. Ouch.
I should point out that this isn’t even close to being a new idea, directories like Yext have been around since 2006 offering fully-loaded click-to-call advertising & directory services. Yext just recently was awarded $25 million dollars in funding after participating in the TechCrunch50 (they also broke this news story a few hours before the official Skype press release).
The marriage of VOIP & Online Advertising is something that will soon be taking over the current way we interact with online ads with companies like Twilio & Voxeo leading the way by providing inexpensive developer platforms for creating IVR/VoIP solutions (and of course, really cool web-apps!)