Google Patents Phone Call...WTF?


Kevin Newcomb , of ClickZ, writes about a new Google patent for mobile marketing which automatically calls an advertiser instead of loading a website when an ad is clicked.

Google appears to be setting its sights on the mobile advertising market, given its latest patent application. The company is seeking protection for a kind of ad that would trigger a phone call instead of rendering a new page when clicked.

This "call-on-select" functionality is described in U.S. patent application 20060004627, filed last week by Shumeet Baluja, a senior research scientist at Google.

The patent abstract:

The serving of one or more ads to a user device considers determined characteristics of a user device, such as whether or not the user device supports telephone calls. At least some ads may include call-on-select functionality. When such an ad is selected (e.g., via a button click), instead of loading a document (e.g., Web page) for rendering, a telephone number associated with the ad by an advertiser can be automatically dialed.

This patent sounds a lot like Amazon's famed one click patent. Perhaps because it is.

How can calling someone when you click an ad be something you can patent? Pure garbage.


There's more to it than that

I wrote a little about this patent application on the day that it was published, here:

The future of ads on phones?.

It is still a patent application, rather than a patent at this point, so it is subject to challenges concerning prior art, uniqueness, novelty, etc.

Here are some of the aspects that are interesting:

1. In serving an ad, a determination is made as to whether or not the device is one that has call functionality. If it doesn't, one of these click to call ads won't be shown.

2. The ads shown are tailored specifically for a device with a smaller screen, and less colors than might be served to a desktop computer.

3. Ads could be served just as click to call, or in combination with a landing page.

Kevin Newcomb's article quotes the inventor, Shumeet Baluja, as noting that some of the limitations of input on a handheld may make serving ads on those devices difficult. What Shumeet Baluja didn't share was another patent application with his name on it, published a week earlier that describes a number of ways to make entering text on a handheld easier. I wrote about that one here - Google Improving Mobile Search.

Personally, I don't like the idea of being shown ads on a phone or PDA, but I think that Google has set up a framework that will make it work smoothly if they do take these steps.

Well I for one have prior

Well I for one have prior art and am pretty damn sure many others have too!

Maybe I'm the only one, but

Maybe I'm the only one, but I'd be pissed off if I got a call after I clicked something. A phone call would make me *not* want to do business with that company. In fact, I'd make a web site about my experience and trash that company as much as I could.

just the beginning

The cellular companies are busy offering "Mobile Web" via their phone networks, and consumers are buying the phones with 2 year contracts. What is not so clear to consumers IMHO is that the "web" accessed via cell phone is a proprietary Web and not the raw Internet. The cellular companies control that network 100%.

If you think Google Accelerator (with smart substitution of content) is bad, wait until you see what the phone companies try to do with those networks.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.