The Google Talkabout blog announced
Google's plans to interoperate with Skype. In part it states, "Google and eBay have signed an agreement around text-based advertising and "click-to-call" advertising, in which Google Talk and Skype will power voice calls between customers and merchants." Even more interesting is this tidbit from the official press release: "Google will become the exclusive text-based advertising provider for eBay outside the United States." Wow, this is a huge win for Skype/eBay, but I'm not so sure how much of a win this is for Google - more on that later.
It is interesting that there is a caveat in the press release - Google is the exclusive
text-based advertising provider for eBay outside the United States
. Apparently, as part of this deal, Skype/eBay can continue to use Overture or other ad networks within
the U.S. but must
use Google for advertising outside the U.S. This sounds to me like Skype/eBay negotiated hard with Google and threw Google a "bone" by agreeing to use Google exclusively outside the U.S.
According to their press release
, eBay and Google plan to integrate and launch "click-to-call" advertising functionality that leverage both Skype and Google Talk in each company's respective shopping and search platforms. So if I go to Skype's online store, I can expect to see a Google Talk button instead of a Skype click-to-call button? Unlikely. It seems clear from the news announced that Google and Skype wish to give the user the option of which VoIP click-to-call application you wish to use.
Thus, perhaps Skype will modify their famous click-to-call buttons to include an image of both Skype and Google Talk on the same button. Then whichever is your default callto: application
(Skype of Google Talk) will automatically be launched when the button is clicked.
The next question you are probably asking yourself is "Is it technically feasible for Skype, a proprietary P2P VoIP application to interoperate with Google Talk". The short answer is that is quite feasible. Aswath has a good run down
explaining the technical feasability.
Soon, Skype will offer its users the option to download the Google Toolbar, to which Skype will add a custom button. There is no mention whether Google would add Skype to the Google Toolbar in return. This would be a huge win for Skype, but would also upset Google's fans that don't hate "bloatware". Of course, Google could offer a check box before downloading to include/exclude the Skype software.
So what's in this for Google? The New York Times states
that mortgage brokers are willing to pay $8 to $15 for each call from a Web searcher, which is roughly 10 times more than they will pay for a Web site click. As part of the Google-eBay/Skype deal, money paid by advertisers for calls completed through Skype would be split between the two companies. Indeed, mortgage brokers are one such potential revenue source from click-to-call applications. However, there has to be a lot of trust between the customer and the mortgage broker. How many users, tech-savvy or otherwise, are willing to trust talking to a mortgage broker using Skype or Google Talk, especially when trying to broker a $350,000 deal? Even if the voice quality is superb, do you really want to deal with a mortgage broker whose identity is unknown due to the use of VoIP? There is a level of trust with dialing an 800/888/877 toll-free number that VoIP just hasn't earned yet. Especially with Spam over Internet Telephony
(SPIT) concerns. Thus, I don't believe Google isn't going to make much "shared revenue" at all as part of this deal - at least in the short term, until some sort of "trusted VoIP source" program is instituted. People just aren't going to use click-to-call for $8-$15 click-to-call transactions. On the other hand, users might use click-to-call for ordering a pizza or some other "low-level trust transaction" - but these advertisers are probably only willing to pay $0.10/click - roughly the same as a regular advertising click. They might be willing to pay a bit more, but certainly not $8-$15/click. I can foresee the potential for massive fraud with this unless Skype/Google implement some complex billing auditing. They will need to at least track IP addresses and not charge advertisers for clicks resulting in any phone calls less than 2 minutes.
Of course, eBay through their acquisition of Paypal has their buyer protection program
, which helps allieve some of the concerns over fraud. So perhaps eBay can extend their Paypal buying protection program to VoIP click-to-call advertisers. Perhaps they can "vet out" these advertisers and give the consumer a level of trust with VoIP that would not otherwise be there. That in essence is the what will give Google and eBay/Skype a future advantage in VoIP, if they play their cards right.More:Andy disagrees with my position that this is an eBay/Skype win
and thinks Google instead got the better part of the deal.
I agree with Russell Shaw's assertion that this deal is signalling modest plans for Google Talk.