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eBay dials Google for 'click-to-call' advertising

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Google will give eBay a taste of its lucrative advertising business when the two companies team up to plaster the online auction site with advertising from early 2007.

For its trouble, Google will get to trial "click-to-call" marketing in a heavy traffic environment through the joint venture.

VoIP-enabled eBayers will be able to click on context-sensitive ads and be connected straight to the vendor through Skype or Google Talk.

eBay is in the process of adding Skype functions to its site following its $2.6bn acquisition of the VoIP specialist, which currently claims about $100m punters worldwide.

The partnership will be eBay's first play at establishing a new direct cash flow from Skype. The two firms said the arrangements will be based on "revenue sharing", but did not give specific details of the carve-up.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt said: "Our technologies will allow us to connect users to relevant advertising across eBay's international properties. By working together to promote click-to-call functionality through Google Talk and Skype, we are offering advertisers another innovative way to connect with customers."

The deal will mean Google becomes the sole provider of text-based advertising on eBay outside the US. "Click-to-call" hawking will launch globally.

A Google statement said: "The specific components and timing of implementation will depend upon initial test results, and will vary by market, largely driven by local dynamics and joint capabilities."

We can imagine the marketing strategy boutiques being scrambled even as we write. ®

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