Google, eBay form alliance

 

Deal offers so-called ‘click-to-call’ technology to directly connect online consumers with advertisers.

SAN FRANCISCO — In a deal between two of the Internet’s most prominent players, Google will begin selling advertising for eBay outside the United States and help buyers quickly ring an online merchant to do business.

The arrangement announced Monday promises to introduce “click-to-call” Web site technology to a broader audience and potentially speed its adoption as a means of more quickly connecting online consumers with advertisers. It will allow potential buyers to call eBay merchants or Google advertisers by clicking a link on a Web page.

“We have a chance to create a whole new way for buyers and sellers to connect online and to create what we hope will be a significant revenue stream for both eBay and Google,” eBay Inc. Chief Executive Meg Whitman said in an interview Sunday night.

Google Inc. CEO Eric Schmidt said the agreement with eBay is “likely to go on for many years,” but he would not disclose the terms of the deal or what it might mean for the Mountain View-based search engine’s bottom line. Whitman said eBay does not expect the partnership to affect its financial performance this year or next.

Under the partnership, Google will become the exclusive provider of text advertising on eBay outside the United States. In May, eBay announced a deal with the No. 2 Internet search engine, Yahoo Inc., to serve all its domestic advertising.

Whitman said eBay decided to give Google’s advertisers access to its international auction sites after choosing Yahoo for its domestic advertising because of the competing Internet search engines’ respective strengths and how they mesh with eBay’s assets.

New deal is Google’s latest coup

The deal represents the latest advertising win for Google. Earlier this month, News Corp. agreed to make Google the exclusive search partner for most of its sites, including MySpace.com. Late last year, Time Warner Inc.’s AOL agreed to sell a 5 percent stake to Google in a $1 billion deal that extends and deepens the ties between the two.

The click-to-call component of the new alliance calls for the two Silicon Valley companies to work together on developing a service that lets Web surfers place telephone calls through their computers or handheld devices when they click on a link in an Internet ad.

Its advocates say customers who call are ready to buy and aren’t just browsing the Internet; thus, search engines can charge more — $2 to $10 or even more per call, compared with less than $1 per click with traditional search ads.

Google already has been testing a program in which users click on a phone icon and type their number into a box. Google then dials the user, who hears ringing until the merchant answers.

Schmidt and Whitman said they would begin testing some of their joint services early next year.

Last year, eBay bought the Internet phone service Skype. Google has its own messaging and Internet-based telephone service, Google Talk.

Both services will be used in the partnership, though details were not disclosed.

Lisa Leff / Associated Press

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