Google is apparently trying to tap into the lucrative commission-based market by offering what it calls the Adwords Comparison Ads and is likely to start the pilot project in the UK itself.
When a search is done on credit cards, Google has embedded a link in its sponsored link section completely at the top of the page over and above the first results.
Clicking on the link redirects to a "Compare UK Credit Cards" page that performs exactly as a traditional comparison website and offers a number of filters.
You can either compare up to four of the 22 cards on offer in a nifty table that provides you with ample information and apply at any time - note that all the cards on offer are "sponsored". This obviously means that Google will be getting a commission out of every customer sent to any of the companies.
Google says that Comparison Ads will allow offers to be targeted at a more granular level thereby leading to more valuable, qualified leads (i.e. a better return on investment) as it is entirely results based.
Danny Sullivan from Searchengineland underlines the very important fact that Google don't pass on the real phone number of the customer but a "temporary bridging" number instead.
The move from cost per click to cost per lead is a logical step and comes as Google tries to improve its profitability. The Comparison Ads tool also allow the users to interact more effectively with the ads.
It will be interesting to see how competitors, many of whom rely on Google to generate new leads, will react. Shares of Moneysupermarket.com, one of the biggest players in the market, have risen by more than five percent since this morning.
We don't like the fact that the ads is linked with our account and that Google will share the information entered on the comparison ads page with the card issuer in this case. Furthermore, it does open a host of possibilities for Google, which is likely to become an online Walmart. Why stop with credit cards! What about mortgages, unsecured loans, pet insurances etc etc.