How Real-Time Bidding Is Revolutionizing the Pay-Per-Call Industry

By Ben Maguire

Recently, the pay-per-call industry has been profoundly transformed by the emergence of real-time bidding. This new capability has revolutionized the pay-per-call model by allowing advertisers to bid on calls in real-time based on a variety of factors such as location, agent availability, and other influential data points. The enhanced customization that real-time bidding enables not only facilitates higher ROI for advertisers; it also spurs better business outcomes for publishers. In this article, we’ll explore how real-time bidding is changing pay-per-call marketing and how companies can leverage this innovative technology to drive more leads, sales, and revenue.

Pay-Per-Call Fundamentals

Before we discuss how real-time bidding is reshaping the pay-per-call industry, let’s first review some pay-per-call basics. To start…

What Is Pay-Per-Call and How Does It Work?

Pay-per-call is a form of performance marketing in which advertisers buy qualified calls from external publishers via a third-party network such as Aragon Advertising. The publishers promote ads featuring a unique phone number that will ultimately be routed to the advertiser’s sales team after passing through a call center to be qualified. 

Typically, pay-per-call campaigns operate on a duration basis, meaning that the payable event is triggered once a certain amount of time has elapsed on the call (e.g. 30 seconds, 90 seconds, etc.). This helps ensure lead quality by filtering out dialing mistakes and callers that do not match the qualifying criteria.

Why Is Pay-Per-Call Advantageous?

The advantages of pay-per-call can essentially be broken down into two parts. For starters, as is the case with all performance marketing channels, advertisers only pay for tangible results. Therefore, the ROI of each campaign is direct and quantifiable. 

Taking that a step further, pay-per-call excels within the realm of performance marketing because it provides what are arguably the most valuable leads a business can obtain. With pay-per-call, brands are connected with high-intent prospects on the phone who are interested in the company’s products or services at that exact moment. This creates high-probability opportunities for reps to close deals and see the return immediately.

Which Types of Businesses Can Benefit From Pay-Per-Call?

Generally speaking, most companies that are able to sell products or services over the phone can engage in pay-per-call marketing. The most common verticals include insurance, financial solutions, home services, and legal businesses; but it’s certainly possible for companies outside of those categories to succeed with pay-per-call as well.

Implementation is fairly simple on the brand side: you’ll just need to provide a phone number to the network or lead generator so they can direct calls to your business. Usually, the network will have a tracking platform to be able to separate their sources and make sure that they’re tracking appropriately on their end. So, again, the basic pay-per-call setup can be quite simple. Success and scaling, however, is a different conversation — which leads us to one of the most exciting recent developments in the pay-per-call space: real-time bidding.

Real-Time Bidding: A Modern Approach to Pay-Per-Call

Pay-per-call has come a long way in the last decade and has become a primary component of many brands’ lead generation efforts. In the early days, pay-per-call relied heavily on Google to generate leads through landing pages and call-only ads — but the process soon evolved to include other traffic sources such as display and social media. These traffic-driving methods are still being used today and comprise the core of pay-per-call. So, the foundational aspects of the pay-per-call model have stood the test of time and continue to be highly effective. However, recent developments have opened the door to more sophisticated campaign strategies.

Traditionally, pay-per-call campaigns have been set up based on a uniform structure in which advertisers pay a flat rate for every call; they simply specify the price point, the regions they can take calls, and the times of day they’re open. This model has certainly been a potent revenue driver that has allowed brands to achieve strong ROI. But as technology and available information increase, the rigid structure by which advertisers pay a flat rate for leads has become outdated. Not all leads are worth the same amount to a brand — and that’s where real-time bidding is now coming into play.

What Is Real-Time Bidding and How Does It Work?

Real-time bidding is a real-time auction that occurs when a customer enters a pay-per-call funnel. Once the call is initiated, the customer’s profile can be automatically enriched with both first and third-party data, which then enables advertisers to adjust their bid for that call accordingly. 

To demonstrate, suppose a call comes in from a consumer in need of plumbing services. When the call hits the call tracking platform, real-time bidding technology will cross-reference that Caller ID (and mobile IP if applicable) with first and third-party databases and append additional information such as the caller’s zip code, household income, etc. Or, at the most basic level, the caller may be prompted to enter their current zip code. Advertisers can then raise or lower their bid for that particular call based on the additional data points provided.

So, rather than setting up static campaigns, brands can leverage both internal and third-party data to make smarter decisions regarding how much to pay for a given call. For example, a company may choose to increase its bid from $30 to $40 for calls in 8 states because its statistical analysis has shown that calls from those states have the highest conversion rates. Thus, the company can significantly improve ROI by lowering its pay-per-call bids in areas it doesn’t perform well in and raising its bids in areas it does perform well in. 

Why Real-Time Bidding Is Revolutionizing the Pay-Per-Call Industry

The reason real-time bidding is so revolutionary is that it facilitates much higher margins for both advertisers and publishers, making it a truly win-win scenario. Publishers can sell each call to a brand that’s optimally positioned to monetize that call (which consequently improves their service offering), and advertisers can elevate their campaign performance and ROI with more finely-tuned strategies. 

As with many technological advancements, the crux of this trend is data. The underlying goal of real-time bidding is to increase the value of each call by appending as much consumer data to the call as possible. This additional data empowers advertisers to make intelligent bids in real-time, increasing conversion rates and lowering cost-per-acquisition. As a result, advertisers will be inclined to purchase more leads because of their greater chance to monetize, and publishers will be able to produce more leads because of their wider margins. So, at the end of the day, all parties benefit from the upgraded capabilities of real-time bidding technology.

Real-Time Bidding and the Future of Pay-Per-Call

Like all facets of digital marketing, pay-per-call will continue to develop and evolve at a rapid pace. But there’s one overarching theme that’s sure to hold true in the foreseeable future: expanding amounts of data will progressively foster more and more informed decisions. Going forward, calls will increasingly be sold in a real-time auction setting where publishers will maximize earnings by enabling brands to use data to guide their strategic execution. This will ultimately lower costs, increase conversions, and raise earnings for publishers all at the same time.

It’s also likely that we’ll see a shift in the balance between inbound and outbound calls. Here at Aragon, we believe that, in the future, inbound calls are going to reign supreme again. More recently, outbound calls have become a major component of pay-per-call; and that’s not going away — but the inbound nature of calls is poised to gain tremendous value. Regarding real-time bidding, outbound calls will have the advantage to start since the outbound process incorporates form-fill data. However, as first and third-party data enrichment becomes more advanced, we’ll see a surge of inbound calls within the real-time bidding environment.

Succeeding with Real-Time Bidding

Real-Time bidding is a momentous step forward in the pay-per-call space, but succeeding with real-time bidding requires diligence and expertise. For that reason, it’s crucial to work with a reputable pay-per-call partner that can help ensure your bid strategy and other technical considerations are implemented properly. 

At Aragon Advertising, our award-winning account management and support teams specialize in real-time bidding setup and strategy management to help brands increase their yield and help publishers increase their earnings. We provide stable large-coverage campaigns with high payouts to drive ROI on both sides. Voted the ‘Pay-Per-Call Network of the Year’ for six years in a row, Aragon is a top choice for any publisher or brand looking to expand their customer base, grow their margins, and generate high-quality traffic. Interested in real-time bidding to help expand your business?