Google tried a mortgage marketplace in the UK last year as a test drive for a range of things (Merchant Search). The theory at the time was that Google was trying to develop a separate marketplace for SMB advertisers. It then introduced (only in two markets so far) Local Listing Ads for SMBs (using call tracking with Google Voice). And now it’s launching AdWords Comparison Ads, starting with mortgages.
This is very interesting on several levels and it may appeal to both large and small advertisers. According to the Google AdWords Blog:
Comparison Ads is part of our continuing effort to make ads more relevant and useful to our users and to help you, our advertisers, reach the people who are most interested in your products and services.
AdWords uses a host of targeting and relevancy signals to determine the best ads for each query. However, sometimes a user’s query doesn’t provide enough information for us to confidently predict what they want. Take, for example, users who search for “mortgage.” Do they want a new home loan or a refinance? Do they want a fixed rate or an adjustable rate loan? Comparison Ads improves the ad experience on Google.com by letting users specify exactly what they are looking for and helping them quickly compare relevant offers side by side.
With Comparison Ads, you can also target your offers at a more granular level, leading to more valuable, qualified leads. To see how it works, let’s use our mortgage example. Users searching for “mortgage” on Google.com may see a promotion from Comparison Ads prompting them to select the type of loan they are looking for and to compare various rates.
So a search for “mortgage” triggers the ad at the top of search results. Users then click into a marketplace or screen of side-by-side offers, in this case mortgage rates and lenders:
You fill out the fields in the left column and the data adjust according to the values (the lenders are locally relevant). If you click on one of the buttons to “request a quote” you see this form:
You plug in your information and, viola, you receive this confirmation:
Danny Sullivan has an explanation of how the lead delivery works:
Ads are sold on a cost-per-lead basis. When someone clicks to receive a quote, the advertiser is forwarded the information and billed. The advertiser also receives no personal information about the person. In fact, they don’t even get the person’s real phone number. Google provides a temporary bridging number that connects the advertiser to the customer. After that, it’s up to the customer to provide their own “real” number if they want follow-up, Fox said.
Indeed, the model is cost-per-action or cost-per-lead. Google has had CPA ads for some time but these ads are slightly different in that they’re delivering one-to-one leads. Certainly I can contact multiple lenders but Google isn’t selling leads to multiple lenders as some CPA marketplaces do. And the bids/prices that sellers will pay will be significantly more than what they’d pay for a click.
As mentioned this begins with mortgages but will grow and extend to other verticals and segments. Think ServiceMagic advertisers, auto dealers and so on. The lead-gen businesses based verticals out there might have reason for concern.
What do you think? How do you think this will play out and what categories do you think Google will move into?