Skype Debuts Business-Funded Click-To-Call Service

skype_logoSkype today launched a new solution dubbed “business-funded Click-to-Call,” in hopes of turning online searches for businesses into calls for those businesses.

The idea is simple;  to let Skype users who search for businesses anywhere on the Web, be able to instantly call that business using a simple “Free Call” button placed next to the search result.  The business itself would then pick up the tab for that call, in return for the lead.

A call that is funded by a business will be highlighted with a blue “Free Call” button that appears anywhere online where a phone number is displayed, including search engines, Internet yellow pages or local search sites.  This automatic phone number recognition allows Skype’s more than 480 million registered users to call a participating business for free.  Calls that are not funded by a business can still be connected via Skype, but at a low cost charged to the Skype user.

The new service is being rolled out first in Europe, where Skype has struck a deal with European Directories, a company who delivers leads to advertisers through local search services delivered via print, online, mobile, search engine marketing, affiliate marketing and RFP / RFQ services.

The initial partnership with European Directories will offer consumers free calls to up to 700,000 businesses across Europe.  Participating European Directories advertisers will have the opportunity to be highlighted with Skype’s blue “Free Call” button anywhere their number appears on the Internet.

“This partnership is a great example of our evolution from a print centric company to one truly focused on lead generation.  By working with Skype, European Directories can now offer its advertisers leads from yet another source in addition to existing channels such as mobile applications, print publications, our own online search sites and those of our partners.  The new Skype ’Free Call’ button will turn search for businesses into calls and leads for businesses.  It will make our advertisers stand out from competition everywhere on the Internet, including in search engines” said Cornel Riklin, CEO of European Directories.

While the new service is being launched in Europe, it will undoubtedly be launched in other parts of the world, including the US, in the near future- based on the effectiveness it provides for businesses who use it.  Linking online content to other forms of user-input is nothing new, but it’s great to see Skype reaching out and using it’s technological niche for something useful.