Google Comparison Ads
By Veera Madray & Eldad Sotnick-Yogev, Mindshare
Google has been steadily rolling out new “Ad innovations”, with the latest launched on September 10 in the United Kingdom. The new insurance comparison ads are similar to other ad innovations that Google Advisor is targeting in order to make the search experience faster and easier for users and advertisers. Details
The new car insurance comparison ads appear underneath the regular ads that you find at the top of the search listings on a Google results page – the ones in the shaded box. The new ad appears in a special ‘sponsored’ section that pushes the organic search results further down the page. This clearly is another way for Paid Search to capture more visible space above the fold. However, unlike Adwords or Google’s Product search these new ads connect users to Google Advisor and do not take the user directly to the advertiser’s website.
Google deems these comparison ads a ‘service’ which is meant to help ‘make the web work better for you’ and this motto is directed at both users and advertisers. Google sums up the service saying it: ‘lets users compare multiple relevant offers from advertisers quickly and easily, providing you with a new, sophisticated and flexible cost-per-lead format’.
Car insurance comparison ads take the user to an interface – similar in its look and feel to the Google Search Engine - where they can begin entering details to help find the best products that meet their needs. Users are able to select specific options and then Google ranks the providers willing to quote with the cheapest offers at the top. A similar process is seen for the banking, credit cards and CDs that Google Advisor lists but the car insurance form is more in-depth in its questions. Advertisers can write to Google in order to enter their products into the database and currently there is no known way to optimize products in order to gain a higher listing. Implications
This gives advertisers more visibility in the search results. While Google did not reveal the traffic levels that it expects to see for the car insurance comparison site, nor for Google Advisor, it is a unique opportunity to connect to generic search queries. While this is a nice potential traffic bonus, advertisers must be aware that the final search results are shown based on lowest price. The critical component is what details users enter for the questions Google poses. This means that a provider with a more expensive offering may find it difficult to gain new business – yet could more easily find its price position in the marketplace.
With Google Advisor, the new car insurance comparison ads and the BETA test that took place only in the San Francisco area for local new car dealers, we are seeing a new income stream open up for Google and advertisers involved can gain a branding advantage. Although price appears to be the only sorting method for relevant results in the car insurance comparison, Google could begin to develop a more robust comparison shopping website/engine soon. Therefore, services including moneysupermarket.com and gocompare.com are the ones who have the most to fear. Summary
Google expects to achieve an increase in traffic and leads for most advertisers. Without participating, advertisers could be losing an opportunity not just to gain a lead, but also presence in the awareness and consideration stages that most generic searches are part of.