Monday, AT&T announced that they would acquire Ingenio, the leader in the pay per call marketing technology. To put it simply, a customer enters their phone number and receives a call from the service and is patched through to the advertiser. These advertisements are visible, most notably, on AOL within the sponsored listings. The user clicks on the ad and is transferred to a landing page to find out more information. The advertiser is only charged when a call is completed. This is similar to Google’s pay per action Click-to-Call, however, the major difference is that Ingenio provides information about the caller that Google retains.
“As advertisers add performance-based advertising to their marketing mix, this investment makes sense for our business,” said Ray Wilkins, AT&T group president-Diversified Business. “Ingenio’s technology will allow AT&T to expand our robust service portfolio for print, online and mobile advertisers, and that will further differentiate us from our competitors.”
This will give AT&T access to the network that Ingenio has built which includes AOL, Jingle Networks, Medio Systems, Switchboard and mobile networks with Microsoft, JumTap and go2.
Not trying to build a conspiracy theory here, but there are some that feel that this will give a major player in the telecommunications industry some leverage against
search marketing giant Google:
Well – I suspect this move is more sinister than it looks. I wrote a post on my personal blog a while back, detailing Ingenio’s Pay Per Call patents. If AT&T decided to use their legal muscle to enforce the patents, Google may be in for some more legal woes (re: DoubleClick). Do I think this is the sole reason that AT&T is acquiring Ingenio? No. Do I think it’s a major contributor – definitely! AT&T probably wants to own this space – and if so, must believe that this set of patents are the key to keeping out competition. Vinny Lingham from a guest post at Marketing Pilgrim
A lot of information is not available because the fact that Ingenio is a privately held company, but they have many valuable assets beyond their profitability that AT&T can take to the next level. Will it lead to a confrontation between the telecommunications industry and Google or other online marketing providers, that remains to be seen. I guess that we will have to wait until January (or beyond) to find out how it will all come out.
From personal experience, Ingenio has a wonderful product and it has been more effective than the Google Click-to-Call.
What are your thoughts? Do you think that AT&T is trying to gain leverage in the telecommunications space, or are they trying to reinforce their dominance?