Over a year after Google bought insurance comparison site Beat That Quote the search giant has now rolled out insurance comparison ads in the UK. Similar features already exist for credit cards and mortgages, so it’s no surprise Google has expanded this to insurance. Insurance comparison is a highly profitable business, with insurance companies paying big money for valid insurance leads. Google has recognised the revenue potential in insurance comparison and seems to have decided it’s more profitable to cut out the middlemen. Instead Google now offers these services directly on its own properties. Undoubtedly Google will continue to collect heaploads of money from PPC advertising on these insurance-related keywords, as advertisers will now have to compete directly with Google as well as with other insurance websites. When you now do a search for ‘car insurance’ or a similar insurance-themed query, you will see a box below the top ads on the SERP: Clicking on the quote button brings up a new screen in which you can fill in the required details for an insurance quote:
It’s important to note is that insurance comparison sites such as Compare the Market and GoCompare use the information entered in these quote forms to try and cross-sell other products to these customers, thus tapping in to additional revenue sources. It’ll be interesting to see how Google will treat this wealth of detailed customer information. This excerpt from their 3700-word Terms & Conditions page provides a strong hint:
“All Content you provide through the Services will be correct, complete and not misleading and you will disclose all relevant facts as this Content may be passed to third parties and used by them to provide you with offers in relation to their products or services.” [Emphasis added]
This is yet another symptom of Google’s increasing desire to become an end destination for users instead of a mere portal. Google believes it can offer superior services and leverage their dominant position in search to give themselves an instant advantage over any rival organisation. Instead of building innovative new services, Google instead seems to focus on taking over existing online business models. Considering that there are cases under investigation with several antitrust legislators in which Google is accused of abusing its dominance in search to take over online shopping and travel services, it’ll be interesting to see how this expansion in to insurance products will affect things. As pretty much all insurance comparison sites are owned by banks or insurance companies, one would imagine they don’t care too much about who gets their final sales commission, as long as they keep selling insurance products. The absence of a response after Google’s initial move in to finance products seems to confirm the finance giants’ indifference towards the source of their sales.