Google Now Does Credit Card Comparisons

Google has made its first official steps into the UK financial comparison market with the launch of a tool to compare credit card rates.

This move follows the start of its “Adwords Comparison Ads” in the US last year, where searchers were shown mortgage rates from a variety of lenders when entering certain keywords into the search engine.

There had also been sight of a similar trial for loans over here in the UK, but it would appear that the first comparison tool we’ll get our hands on from the search giant is for credit cards.

The tool will apparently pop-up when you use certain search keywords on Google, such as “compare credit cards”, but this is a little hit and miss. Otherwise, it can be accessed directly through this link.

Google made the announcement on their Inside Adwords blog:

Comparison Ads improves the ad experience on Google by letting users specify exactly what they’re looking for and helping them quickly compare relevant offers side by side.

Google Credit Card Comparison

How Does It Compare?

In terms of functionality, it’s a fairly simple tool which allows you to narrow down the list of cards by choosing their features on the left-hand side of the page, such as whether you’re looking for a balance transfer card or simply the lowest APR, and whether you want to see just cashback cards.

Looks-wise it’s typical Google fare, without any visual bells or whistles, and there’s an interesting discussion in this post as to whether this is a good thing or not, comparing Google’s credit card comparison with Moneysupermarket. It also questions whether Google’s brand can continue to stretch into any vertical it wishes.

It’s worth pointing out that credit card companies have to signup to take part, the results aren’t taken from Google’s normal crawling of the internet, and although Google says there are some major providers available, there are likely to be quite a few missing, so it certainly shouldn’t be seen as a comprehensive search of the credit card market. Google is essentially becoming an affiliate and earning money when people take out these cards.

Confused?

Confused.com, who like most comparison sites might be a little worried about Google  getting to the traffic before they do, naturally have a different view about the new tool:

This new offering lacks many of the features that have made Google’s search engine a great success. Gone is the impartiality of results, with only sponsored results shown. Gone is the ability to explore the detail, with only superficial product details shown. All in all, this system is years behind the service offered by the UK’s price comparison websites.

I have to say I’d agree with this – we’ve got used to Google coming out with some really innovative products, and really shaking up markets, such as GMail, but this just feels like a half-hearted attempt to join in the comparison market, which will probably succeed to a certain extent just because of all the traffic they can tap into.

Privacy

There’s one other issue that’s worth raising but may or may not be relevant, which is around the privacy of the data for those using the tool. If the details of the credit cards (and going forward, any other financial product areas Google move into, along with the wider range of items available to compare through Google Product Search) are logged, Google could then use the data to tailor ads within GMail or on other sites using their Adsense ads, for example. They could even take it further and change the rankings in the search results pages. Google would say that this helps improve the user experience by giving more relevant ads or results, but how would you feel about it?

What do you think about Google getting into the comparison market? Would you use the tool, or are you more likely to use a dedicated comparison site rather than a search engine? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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2 thoughts on “Google Now Does Credit Card Comparisons

  1. Thanks for the balanced piece. I’ve copied moneysupermarket.com’s response to Google below. Ian

    Toby Van de Meer, MD for Money products at moneysupermarket.com commented: “moneysupermarket.com’s successful formula comes from helping customers find the right card for them, with the option to search the whole credit card market, whilst providing help and support, such as independent reviews, to guide the customer’s decision making process.

    “In this latest move Google has abandoned its successful search model which comes from showing customers a combination of whole of market results, ordered by what is most relevant, plus sponsored results based on how much the advertiser pays. In this test they are simply listing cards that are prepared to pay to advertise, regardless of whether they are a great deal for customers. We are disappointed that Google has chosen to only feature sponsored products in this solution with nothing to support customers.

    “As well as seeing just a fraction of the credit card market customers who use this Google tool whilst it is in trial will miss out on at least one fantastic exclusive card coming soon only to moneysupermarket.com.”

  2. The big financial comparison sites should be worried about this news as Google sends them a lot of traffic. If it starts to take some of this traffic to its own advertising platform then it will cause a rise in the cost of acquisition of new customers (for the aggregators).

    At the moment, this link is not well advertised within Google but if they start pushing it and thinking about other insurance products then the whole comparison marketplace will change.

    Very interesting move, I’ll be watching this.

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