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Is “Ring Back Advertising” The Future For Google?

google_logo.gifRecently Google has been moving beyond its traditional areas of activity into territory more related to telephony. The beta launch of Google Voice a few weeks ago was a big step in that direction.

The question of course is how will Google generate a profit from these activities. The recent publishing of a Google patent application titled “Ringback Advertising” may give a good indication.

Google Voice is a new Google service that is designed to help consumers manage their voice calls. The system provides a variety of features such as:

  • a single phone number which can be used to consolidate all your incoming, outgoing and sms communications,
  • a centralized Google Voicemail, which can also provide written transcripts (with Karaoke-like word highlighting!)
  • a variety of other phone features such as conference calls, call forwarding, call blocking, call records, and discounted international call rates.

For more on the Google Voice system, take a look at the Google video at the bottom of the article.

Google also released Google Voice applications for Android and Blackberry in the past week, with a promise to release an iPhone version soon. These applications make the use of Google Voice very transparent on mobile devices. You can read more about this on the official Google Mobile Blog.

Clearly Google might be able to generate some revenue based on the international call charges, but the recent publication of a Google patent application gives an indication that they may be looking at advertising as a way to monetize their telephony business.

The patent (which can be viewed online here) discusses a full ringback advertising system.


Although Google has not made any statements about if or when or how they intend to implement ringback advertising, a look at the patent shows some interesting features:

  • It would be an auction based ad selling system, as Google does for online ads.
  • Advertisers can classify their ads according to product categories and a preferred location for caller. These are considered when the ad auction is taking place.
  • The system will be able to take caller location into account when determining which ad to play.
  • Callers can setup which category of ads they are interested in listening to.
  • The system will be able to charge advertisers according to how long or how much of the audio message the caller actually heard.
  • Metrics will be reported for optimization such as a “Listen Through Ratio”.
  • There is a place for “third party publishers”, presumably other companies that would play audio ads from Google through their own PBX or other audio application.

Other companies have successfully implemented ringback advertising, for a good example read the MobiAD interview with mobile operator Turkcell. It will be very interesting to watch how Google decides to use this means of advertising to generate revenue from their new voice based services.

Here is a short Google-video about the Google Voice service.

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="320" height="265" wmode="transparent" /]

20.07.2009    Tags: , , ,
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