When you create an overlay it will remain assigned for a period of time even if it is not called. The length of time it stays assigned for depends on your account settings, but the value is usually thirty days. For some implementations the overlay is only required for a few minutes, in this situation the number could usefully be freed up afterwards allowing the same overlay to be used elsewhere and reducing the total amount of overlaying numbers used.
A user is visiting our website, we want to tie a potential call from this user to to other statistics we have collected online. We can acheive this by passing a unique ID as the referene string, but if we do that for every visitor to the website we will quickly use up a large volume of numbers.
If the user does not call within one hour, we are unlikely to receive a call at all so we can set the overlay to expire one hour from now. We do this by providing an expiry parameter in addition to any other information.
Note, on its own this parameter just specifies when the number can be re-used if it is not called. Depending on your implementation you may wish to combine it with the enforceExpiry and / or calledExtension parameters.