Wannabe telecommunications company Jajah is planning to replace the ringing tone with recording advertisements, when the user wants them, with the revenue split 50-50 between customer and operator.
Jajah's main business is connecting calls which are set up using their website, but users who sign up to the new advertising service will get credit for listening to adverts while they wait for their call to be answered. When signing up they'll be asked to provide some demographic information to allow the adverts to be targeted appropriately, though patterns of usage will also be used to make sure the right ads hit the right people.
According to Jajah co-founder Daniel Mattes the average time spent listening to a ringing tone is 12 seconds, time which could be spent listening to adverts provided by Jajah. The company has signed a deal with advertising brokerage Oridian, and is already pitching the idea to companies that might be interested before launching the service on December 1.
Jajah has also announced their own version of Skype To Go: allowing users to assign a local number to an international number they want to call using the Jajah service, which should drive up usage, and thus listeners to the new advertising service.
But the question of who gets to decide what the caller hears is not so simple. Many mobile operators around the world offer ringback tones, which replace the normal ringing tone with a track of the callee's choice, for a fee, and they're not going to be impressed when their service is hijacked by Jajah's advertisements.
We asked a couple of UK operators who offer ringback tones for comment, but neither of them has so far got back to us.
Jajah sees the time spent listening to the ringing tone as wasted time which could usefully be filled with adverts, while those of us who use that time to collect our thoughts are finding it increasingly filled with information and entertainment when all we want to do is pause and think. ®