Yahoo! has just launched a VoIP (Voice Over IP) service that will enable users to use the internet as a telephone network. The service will link to existing Yahoo! email and instant messenger accounts and will work with other PCs or traditional landline phones. Calls will cost pennies per minute in the US and elsewhere. Similar services are already offered by MSN, eBay’s Skype, Sony, AOL, and Google. How will users choose the best service? ZDNet’s Russell Shaw thinks quality will be more important than price:
Softphone providers are fighting each other over price point, but I don’t think the average user cares about whether a call is 1.7 cents a minute or 2 cents a minute. What matters to them is quality of service. How is the connection?
InformationWeek sees the addition of Yahoo! to the VoIP sector putting “another nail in the coffin of traditional landline telephoning.?? As the internet merges with both traditional phones and cell phones, opportunities for online marketers increase. Microsoft says it is considering linking its voice service to advertising and offering it free of charge, while others are linking search listings with voice to enable users to contact advertisers directly.
With cell phones, a recent Ball State University study finds that 96% of students have one and 70% have internet access on their mobile phone. Only one third of the students who participated in the study found cell phone ads annoying, and 29% said they would accept ads in exchange for something like ringtones, extra minutes, upgrades, or access to the Web. From MediaPost:
In a sign that coupons or other discounts might be a good use of mobile marketing efforts, two-thirds of respondents said that cash might make them more favorably disposed toward the ads. Twenty-eight percent of that group said 25 cents would suffice, while 60 percent said they would require at least $1 per ad.
In anticipation of the continued growth of mobile internet, the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) has just come out with the Mobile Web Banner Advertising Specifications.