It has come:

Tipped off by Jay Weintraub, founder of LeadsCon and Author of LeadConfidential, Google recently announced the launch of Comparison Ads. Which currently is focused on mortgage rate shoppers, but obviously its name “Comparison Ads” leaves it wide open for other products to be introduced. This is big news for the lead gen space.

This new service will allow advertisers to target/filter their marketing efforts on a very granular level when compared to Adwords. When you compare it to buying leads from LendingTree, LowerMyBills, QuinStreet or any one of the hundreds of lead companies in the space there is no difference. Advertisers will be charged on a per lead basis where a lead is defined by either a phone call or the completion of a inquiry form.

Here is how a search result for mortgage may look like:

Google

These ads will no doubt take impressions and ultimately clicks away from lead generators bidding on these keywords. They will be placed in a premium location for the best results. Once the consumer clicks on the compare rates the will go to this page and see this:

google

Via the Adwords blog:

While Comparison Ads is still an early-stage feature, we’ve focused on a number of ways to enhance the user experience:

  • Speed — Comparison Ads shows targeted offers in less than a second. There are no long forms for users to fill out – Users see specific offers immediately and only need to fill in additional information if they wish to further refine their results.
  • Transparency — Comparison Ads only shows real products. There are no teaser rates, or bait and switch offers. Comparison Ads also standardizes the information presented to users, making it easy for them to sort and compare offers on a side by side basis.
  • Privacy — Comparison Ads won’t send advertisers any user information, including anonymized phone numbers, unless the user explicitly requests more information about an advertiser’s offer.

These developments are what LendingTree was looking to stop with their recent suit against Mortech. With these developments Google is now taking an active and direct role in the lead generation space. Of course they have always been a huge participant as a service provider and advertising platform, but they can now be considered competition to companies like LendingTree and others. As I asked in previous posts: Where will this end? Will Google continue to leverage their search traffic to create a massive comparison shopping engine?

I personally don’t like this move by Google for obvious reasons. Their dubious excuse for creating the comparison engine, which is to clean up the industry by presenting accurate rates, is simply an excuse to monetize their traffic even more. On the surface the objective of creating more revenue is fair, but doing so in a way that will take away revenue and traffic from their paying advertisers doesn’t seem right and definitely not fair.

What do you think?

Thanks again Jay for the tip.