Pay-Per-Call Programs from the Trenches

Affiliate networks have all be jumping on the Pay-Per-Call bandwagon using RingRevenue’s pay-per-call tracking platform.  Currently I have seen programs for Commission Junction, Google Affiliate Network, LinkShare and ShareASale.

What are the advantages of pay-per-call?

  1. The ability for companies to compensate partners for sales calls.
  2. The ability for consultative or high ticket purchase companies to get into performance marketing
  3. The ability for websites to compensate partners for both online sales and sales that turn into calls from the website (typically lost to performance partners and a primary reason performance partners as to have phone numbers removed from landing pages).

These all sound great, but like any other new technology the devil is in the details and the implementation.  Here are some of the struggles I have run into so far:

  1. Phone# Replacement Code Implementation – The vast majority of the companies offering pay-per-call have not implemented the code to actually replace the performance partner’s unique number into their landing page.  This seems like an obvious 1st step to implementation, but alas having your number show on the page is currently more of an exception than a norm.
  2. Listed Call Times – Since we are dealing with phone calls, and not all companies can afford to staff their call centers 24/7, each program lists the call times for which they are willing to pay for calls.  That makes perfect sense, but for one of the companies I was testing, I placed a test call during listed hours, and got a message that the company was taking a day off to go sailing!  If you are not going to be around, you need to communicate this to your partners so they aren’t wasting their money on campaigns.
  3. Call Leakage – Performance marketers have talked about website leakage for a long time, leakage is paths that consumers can take that end up being uncompensated for the performance partner.  In fact pay-per-call promises to solve the phone number leakage problem.  One company I placed a test call to directed customers to visit their website (a non-compensated url) and then proceeded to place the customer on hold and then every 10 seconds on hold offered the customer the option to enter a call back number and not lose their place in line.  While that might be very convenient for a customer, it encourages the customer to drop off the call before hitting the pay-out time threshold.
  4. Ghost Calls – If you are focusing your marketing efforts on mobile marketing, you may find that there are a lot of “Ghost Calls”, calls that appear as clicks/calls to the marketing network you are working with but never actually generate a call.  This can happen if a customer clicks on the “call” option and then doesn’t click ok when their phone asks them if they want to place the call.   This seems to happen a lot in the mobile display advertising space.
  5. Standard Landing Pages – While having the standard landing pages and replacing the phone number is a great first step, it would be great to also offer mobile marketing links with mobile landing pages that are made to look good on the various types of mobile phones.

My suggestion is that this is a very new technology with a lot of hurdles.  It’s worth testing the waters right now, but tread lightly and make sure to test out the customer experience on the click and the call before proceeding.

About Adam Viener

Adam Viener is the Chairman & Founder of imwave, inc, a leading performance search engine marketing agency. Imwave focuses primarily on building and launching effective pay-per-click search engine keyword marketing campaigns for companies paying commissions on sales and leads generated. In 2009, 2010, 2011, & 2012 Imwave was recognized as one of the fastest growing privately held companies by Inc. Magazine. Imwave recently announced they had served over 5 Billion ads for their clients!

Adam is also the founder of Yazing, a new site that not only pays you cash back on the things you buy online, but also lets you earn cash rewards recommending the top brands on the internet. Yazing gives you instant access to top commission rates from the leading online brands without having to join each affiliate network or program directly.

Adam, a serial internet entrepreneur, founded one of the first commercial internet service providers (ISPs) in 1993. He has a deep understanding of internet technologies and profitable internet marketing tactics.

Social Media:

Twitter: adamviener

11 Responses to Pay-Per-Call Programs from the Trenches

  1. Travis says:

    I do like the combo that CJ offers of if they click to the site and check out online the tradition CPA is offered or if they call the Ring Revenue number the PPCall is paid.

    There are still some issues that need to be worked out but so far so good.

  2. Hi Adam! Thanks for the great post! Our pay-per-call platform was designed to surface many of the hurdles you have come up against. We posted a response to help shed additional light on some of your concerns which can be found here:….
    Thanks again for your support and continued coverage of pay-per-call and the changes it is driving in the performance marketing industry.

  3. Adam Viener says:

    Yeah, if you are already promoting a company that offers this, it's a no brainer to start using the ringrevenue link and capture additional sales. Would be nice if it were easier to combine that with deep linking.

  4. […] great post on ReveNews today by Adam Viener titled Pay-Per-Call from the Trenches talks about the growing popularity of Pay-Per-Call programs on the leading affiliate networks […]

  5. CT Moore says:

    I wonder if this will cause any of the major networks to start offering phone networking services so that they can directly control the call tracking — and retain the confidence of publishers.

  6. Adam Viener says:

    What exactly did you have in mind by "offering phone networking services"?

  7. Pat Grady says:

    Regarding landing pages, I understand that the affiliate publisher can request more phone campaigns and creatives, but that incurs delay and admin overhead. At SAS, for example, their links can use both the afftrack and urllink parameters, to tag info and landing page to any non-phone SAS link. The way it is now, it looks like the afftrack feature can't be used with phone creatives, neither can deep linking. Further, whether using the existing phone campaigns, or requesting new ones, it seems the call platform wants to issue a new number for each phone campaign (ie landing page) – resulting in unnecessary phone number proliferation. Would be nice if we could append afftrack and urllink to the call a single "all traffic" phone link, have both params passed to SAS, enabling afftrack tagging, deep linking and single phone number for all landing pages an aff sends.

    • Adam Viener says:

      I believe most campaigns will allow you to pass member ID links on the "click" but that won't come through if the customer actually calls. RingReevenue does a have a search feature that will attempt to issue new numbers for each keyword and pass that to the landing page so you can try to track back your keyword buys to numbers dialed.

      All that is well and good, UNLESS you are focused on actually running a campaign that drives calls, in that case you will probably want to create a separate mobile landing page, and the phone number swapping isn't available to publisher's landing pages, just to the advertiser's landing pages.

      There is still a long way to go with the technology, and no tracking technology is perfect.


  8. […] little over a year ago, I wrote about my getting started with pay-per-call in the article Pay-Per-Call Programs from the Trenches. At the time, many of performance marketing networks I work with were jumping on board and offering […]

  9. paypercall says:

    From an advertiser’s perspective, call quality is of the
    upmost importance. You’ve addressed that in your paragraph on Ghost Calls
    above. And more can be said on the topic of the responsibility of affiliates to
    create calls that advertisers will be happy with. For example,
    has some interesting ideas on using IVR’s to filter ghost calls. Since this
    space is so new, the affiliate networks should be working hard to form affiliate
    promotional policies and develop systems that will protect advertisers. If they
    can do that, they may be able to prevent/reduce early adopters from getting
    burned and turned off of pay per call & creating bad press for the industry.
     As it sits right now, the policing is solely
    on the shoulders of the advertisers. Affiliate networks should take a bigger
    role in protecting advertisers, otherwise, good paying offers will simply disappear.

  10. paypercall says:

    And here’s another article on call
    quality from the advertiser’s perspective.