Google has just debuted a new form of advertising called AdWords Comparison Ads — a special kind of ad that will prompt users to view a list of sponsored products in a structured format. To get started, Google is running the ads for queries related to the mortgage market, though it has plans to eventually expand beyond that. The ads are in a limited rollout for now, with only some users in some states seeing them.
Here’s how Google describes the new ad type:
AdWords uses a host of targeting and relevancy signals to determine the best ads for each query. However, sometimes a user’s query doesn’t provide enough information for us to confidently predict what they want. Take, for example, users who search for “mortgage.” Do they want a new home loan or a refinance? Do they want a fixed rate or an adjustable rate loan? Comparison Ads improves the ad experience on Google.com by letting users specify exactly what they are looking for and helping them quickly compare relevant offers side by side.
Users searching for “mortgage” on Google.com may see a promotion from Comparison Ads prompting them to select the type of loan they are looking for and to compare various rates.
If they click the promotion, users are taken to a page with more detailed sponsored results. They can choose directly from the offers listed on that page, or they can further refine their search by providing additional information like income and home value…
Once users find an offer that matches their specific needs, they can either call you directly or request a quote. If a user requests a quote, Google automatically anonymizes the user’s phone number and sends you a unique code that you can use to contact the user. You only pay if a user calls the phone number on your offer or fills out a form to request a quote.
As Leadcritic points out, Google’s entry into this space is obviously going to be bad news to lead gen services like LendingTree, and they aren’t the only newcomers looking to get in on the action — we hear that Billshrink will soon be expanding its price-saving tools to include mortgage comparison shopping.
And, as noted before, Google will be expanding this ad type beyond mortgages. This may well be its answer to Bing’s decision engine model, which presents a number of structured options for the services and products you’re looking for that aren’t based exclusively on search rank.