Google unveiled a new comparison site for credit cards, mortgages, CDs, checking and savings accounts as they position themselves in the financial lead generation sector. The company aims to compete with services like LendingTree and LowerMyBills, but is Google’s comparison site an unfair intrusion into the lead generation industry?
Starting today, if you search for keywords within the five financial categories (credit cards, mortgages, etc.) you’ll be presented with an ad for Google Advisor at the top of the results page. The Google Advisor link takes you to their site, where you can search for financial products based on fees, credit ratings, deposit requirements and other specifications. Users can sort and search results as well as find offers that appeal to them. Then, users have the option of calling an 800 number, requesting a callback or sending an email inquiry. Advertisers pay a fee for each lead.
Google now has the top spot in a crowded and competitive PPC market. Over time, their site could rank organically siphoning more business from some of their top advertisers who will no doubt have to pay more money in both SEO and PPC to try and recover their lead volume. Marketers predicted this move into financial lead generation following their March acquisition of beatthatquote.com, but what is preventing them from entering every other lead generation market? In two to three weeks, Google could probably duplicate their advisor site for real estate, vehicle sales, legal services and travel. The scary part is that it just might happen and sooner than you think.
After 8 months of deliberation, the Justice Department approved Google’s $700 million acquisition of ITA Software on April 8th. ITA Software makes the software that runs sites like Kayak and Trip Advisor. Those sites feared a total lockout from the acquisition, but in the conditions of the deal, Google must continue to provide access to both the software and new search products developed afterwards. To be fair, Bing has already announced a partnership with Kayak, but partnering with a site and owning their means of production are two very different things.
Google’s ability to enter and dominate markets is nothing new, but their aggressive expansion should raise eyebrows among marketing professionals and regulators alike.