A new report from an analyst at Forrester points to signs that Google is finally getting ready to launch its long-anticipated comparison site for car insurance.
You can read more about the specifics of the Forrester findings in our coverage on Marketing Land, including possible plans to sell insurance itself. One thing is clear, when the service rolls out, the search landscape in this vertical will see changes. We can expect changes similar to those seen in other verticals Google has entered such as travel and shopping.
For a preview of what the SERPS for car insurance queries may look like, we can check out Google UK where the company has been running its Google Compare program since 2012 for car insurance, mortgage rates, credit cards and travel insurance.
A search for “car insurance” on Google.co.uk features the Sponsored ad box for Google Compare between the top line ads and organic listings.
This experience looks similar to what we already see in the states for across several verticals including flight, hotels and shopping. The most comparable format, though, is Google’s credit card comparison product. Once part of Google’s bigger effort to generate leads in the financial sector in the US, called Google Advisor, the credit card comparison is the only surviving piece. Google shuttered the mortgage rate comparison tool in early 2012 and seems to have closed down the bank account comparison tool and Google Advisor itself later that year. The credit card comparisons now live at www.google.com/compare/creditcards. Likely this is where the car insurance comparison will also live, as it does in the UK.
The result below is from Google.com. The disclosure on this box is the same as the one Google shows on all Sponsored boxes. The difference between this listing and the sponsored boxes for flights, hotels and shopping is that there is an actual ad headline. You’ll see the same treatment plus description copy (“51% of our users could save up to £220. Compare over 125 providers”) in the UK result above.
In both cases, the headline changes depending on the search query. On a search for “credit card comparison” on Google.com, the headline changed to “Credit Card Comparison Service from Google”.
By comparison, the headlines for shopping, flights and hotels are utilitarian. For example, the flight search headline merely states the route being searched.
It’s not clear when Google will debut its car insurance comparison tool in the US, but Forrester expects a California pilot to launch in the first quarter of this year with subsequent roll out to additional states. The entity Google Compare Auto Insurance Services Inc. has the go-ahead to do business in more than 25 states. After learning from failures in the mortgage rate and banking sectors in the states and successes in the UK, Google is likely to be better positioned to make car insurance work for it in the US. Certainly car insurers (both those choosing to partner with Google and those that are not) should plan on SERP disruption at some point this year.
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