Google throws cat amongst mortgage pigeons

by Peter Young on October 30, 2009 · 1 comment

There are a number of potentially sensitive products that Google are currently working on or are close to release phase at present including Google Real Estate currently being trialled in both the US and Australia and the secured loans merchant search options that were beta’d a while back.

That early testing now seems to have paved the way for Adwords Comparison ads, which lets users compare multiple, relevant offers more easily. From their launch post on the Official Adwords blog, they describe the new feature as follows:

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 by letting users specify exactly what they are looking for and helping them quickly compare relevant offers side by side.

For example for searchers typing in the term mortgage into Google could be presented with a result as follows:

These ads offer more than traditional Adwords ads do, and include a couple of example data plus the option to further refine the loan criteria. Once users have refined their search, they are presented with the results page much like the previous merchant search rollout, which allows them to further refine their search (within the advertisers who are utilising these services)

Once users find an offer that matches their specific needs, they can either call directly or request a quote. If a user requests a quote, Google automatically anonymizes the user’s phone number and sends you a unique code that the advertiser can use to contact the user. Advertisers only pay if a user calls the phone number on theoffer or fills out a form to request a quote.

So what does this mean for users, Google and advertisers.

Well for users this can only be a good thing. More choice easily accessible from the Google search page can only mean users are presented with a greater choice from the SERP’s pages however if it was anything like the previous merchant search testing, the number of advertisers who utilised this was fairly small. This would obviously need to scale up if this was to be of use, however one can imagine some advertisers being very cautious and very wary of the Google behemoth.

That leads us nicely on to advertisers. This is where I can’t help feeling there is likely to be some discontent. The Adwords Comparison ads take up the first position on the sponsored ads options on the Google search page, and as such take up a piece of core real estate, which for terms like mortgages does trigger a high volume (albeit impulse clickers included) of clicks. Align this with the ‘standoutness’ of the ad block itself and you have an onpage feature that carry a significant amount of traction. The net result being

  • Advertisers don’t occupy position one
  • Advertisers have to work harder to make their ads stand out
  • Positioning within secondary results becomes more important

My colleague at Mediavest Jon Myers talks about the search engines as the new landing pages, and this is such a perfect example of that, something designed to create a sticky landing page. The net result, three fold in my opinion

  • Mining the long tail becomes every more important
  • Creative optimisation and landing page optimisation becomes more important to paid search advertisers
  • Natural (and blended) search (SEO) become even more crucial, particularly those core results above the fold on the page

It will be interesting to see whether this test ever makes full rollout, however given its refinements from earlier testing it would appear it is only a matter of time before this sees the full light of day

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