Google Patent App: Telemarketing Piped Into Your Call

Last Updated Jul 16, 2009 3:58 PM EDT

So you thought little services like Google Voice might come without a price to pay, eh? Not so fast. A patent application published today gives one idea how the company can find new ways to deliver advertising. A hint: they've got your number and they're not afraid to use it to deliver audio ads when you least expect them.

The application title is "Ringback Advertising." Here's the giveaway paragraph:

Some advertisers also advertise with phone calls. The advertisers call the consumer and when the consumer answers, the advertisement starts to play. Audio advertisements, however, can unnecessarily bother consumers who do not want to be disturbed by phone calls with advertising information. Providing the audio advertisements at a time that is otherwise filled with a ring tone or other pre-recorded audio, however, can allow the advertiser to advertise while at the same time, not disturb the consumer because the consumer would have to otherwise listen to some other form of audio.
In other words, Google can recognize the number you're calling from, particularly if you're working with Google Voice. (Though no reason that the system described couldn't be licensed out to telecom carriers.) Any time you might have to listen to some audio or other -- on-hold music, maybe â€" they can pipe in an ad. Depending on information they have about you (and that's a lot) or things like current geographic location that the phone can transmit, they can select an appropriate ad. There's also the provision for ad bidding, just as you find in Google search advertising:
For example, advertisers A, B, and C all select, or bid, a cost-per-call of $0.05, $0.07, and $0.10, respectively. The amount advertiser A will pay each time the audio advertisement 132 is played is $0.05, the amount advertiser B will pay is $0.10, and the amount advertiser C will pay is $0.07. The advertisements, associated usage data, and bidding parameters described above can be stored as advertisement data in an advertisement data store 114.
And the best part is, you can't afford to hang up on the telemarketing because you're in the middle of making a call. Hey, it's for you.

Image via stock.xchng user mrceviz, site standard license.

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    Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. The views expressed in this column belong to Sherman and do not represent the views of CBS Interactive. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman or on Facebook.