SAN JOSE, Calif: In a canny move to part non-US consumers from their hard earned cash, the planet's mightiest web duo, eBay and Google are to launch a new 'click-to-call' advertising service.

eBay users beyond US shores, whose eyes alight on a Google ad, will be invited to click a link that activates voice-over-internet technology (such as Google Talk or eBay-owned Skype) and connects the caller for free to a customer service line.

According to eBay ceo Meg Whitman: "The vast majority of businesses still serve customers via the phone. This is the online equivalent. Google and eBay are uniquely positioned to make this market a reality."

Analysts, who for the most part believe eBay and Google walk on water, have mixed views on the venture.

Enthuses one entrail-raker, UBS media analyst Benjamin Schachter: "Intuitively it seems it would work. A local business would much prefer a phone call than a click to their website. Like its predecessor, pay-per-click advertising, there will be a tipping point where it takes off."

But another, Maribel Lopez at Forrester Research, cautioned: "This type of voice-over-internet technology has very limited use to date for sales and customer care. It will assist sales but it's not going to revolutionise them . . .What it is going to be good for is the purchasing of complicated or complex products."

The duo will begin trialling the new system early next year after the search engine has recruited enough advertisers. It will be evaluated after a few months.

Stateside, however, eBay is already committed to Yahoo with whom it signed an exclusive 'click-to-call' contract in May.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff