I wrote a post this morning at Search Engine Land on litigation between LendingTree.com and one of its partners. In the complaint it’s apparently revealed that the partner, Mortech, is planning to help Google launch a mortgage-quote service or marketplace next month.
It might be similar to an experiment that Google tried in the UK last year: Google Merchant Search. I wrote about that service when it appeared in May, 2008.
As I say over at SEL the focus on mortgages is probably something of a distraction. To the extent anything actually launches in the US it’s ultimately not likely to be about a specific vertical but rather a new lead-gen or marketplace model that might be more broadly applied across different segments:
The UK test was really about developing a model to deliver leads on a CPA or pay-per-call basis. In this case many were small business advertisers (mortgage brokers). Mortgages happened to be the content or category used in this test. One of the clues here is the name of the service: the broadly applicable “merchant search,” not “mortgage search.”
To the extent that Google is planning to introduce a similar service in the US, you can be sure it’s not about a single vertical but rather about testing a distinct marketplace or CPA model — with an eye toward smaller advertisers (though not exclusively).
Google has been searching (so to speak) for a way to simplify online advertising for SMBs so that more of them will self-serve. I’m not saying that this is that solution but a distinct lead-gen or PPCall marketplace (that might equally be used by larger entities) could be something that Google is considering to better serve segments of the SMB market.
In the screenshot below note in the left column “receive call.”