Sunday, August 8, 2010

Google bites the hand that feeds it… Ow!

This is likely old news to anyone in the lead generation industry, but it gave me a bit of indigestion the other night when I experienced it first hand…

What I'm referring to is Google's entre into the lead generation market ala Google comparison ads.

Browsing the web to take a look at my refinance options, I typed in "Mortgage Calculator" only to see the first "sponsored" link with some high falootin' functionality in the form of an interactive dropdown option in the ad.
"That's new," I thought to myself. "I've never seen a drop down option in my AdWords account… How could I have missed that?"

Who is the advertiser behind this ad… How do they get to do this? Oh, it's… the big G itself! Whoa!" I've seen PSA's and ads for Adwords, Google maps, Picassa and their other utilities, but never have I seen something quite like this… Something doesn't smell right here… So of course I click the ad…

After a bit of confusion at the turn of events, I start to play around with their page and think to myself…
"How cool is this?" I adjust the key data points and watch the lender options appear and disappear. Nicely done.

And after my honeymoon with the functionality is through, I start to get miffed again!

Not only is Google in first position on Google, but they are using a more interactive (bound to generate better CTR's) type ad implementation to boot…An ad type that is simply not available to the millions of Adwords advertisers that continue to be responsible for 95% of Google's revenue.While they are surely "paying themselves" for any clicks on this ad, can this possibly be a fair playing field given the many legs up they would have over any of the other advertisers bidding on this keyword due to;
  1. The inherent increased consumer trust in a "non evil" brand such as Google especially when "found" on their very own platform?
  2. The increased CTR's that would surely be realized as a result of their "compare rates" interactivity function in their ad? (Again, not available to the everyday advertiser.)
  3. The benefit that can only be realized by having full account awareness of all of their competitors (aka clients) who are bidding on the exact same keywords?
That said, no one can deny that with this new functionality, Google has delivered yet another stellar implementation that arms the consumer with choice…. Dare I say, perhaps a better implementation then that of the traditional lead generators in this space. And while that may well make the internet a better place, is Google's choice to usurp their clients the best way to achieve this goal? Could the same benefit not been achieved by ratcheting up the ad participation guidelines of it's advertisers?

As a working professional in the online advertising and lead generation space, this seems such a blatant biting of the hand that feeds scenario that it could only be pulled off by a company with the power and influence of a Google!
One sided? Self Serving? Cannibalistic? Dare I say, Anti-Trust?

Google began with a beta test of the mortgage vertical for this "comparison ad" model by launching in the U.K. and with success moved to the U.S. Now we are seeing a U.K. launch of a credit card "comparison ad" model in the U.K. with rumors of travel and insurance soon to follow. The bigger question is where will this end?

Is it possible that in 10 years, there will exist only one website to not only direct the search, but fulfill the anticipated consumer product or service?
Likely? No. Possible? Absolutely, and is surely following every move.

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