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Every so often a simple Google search reveals a hint at a new Google initiative.
In recent months we've seen various different types of ad extension formats and it seems that selling leads rather than clicks could be the next big push in Google's continuing search for revenue streams away from the simple click.
Peter Bell from Fuse Lead Marketing (@fuselead) recently alerted me to an interesting discovery which seems to have appeared over the last few weeks in the UK.
If you are signed into one of Google’s services (LeadPoint uses Google for email) you might stumble across a new type of ad extension in the top ranked ads – namely a way for the advertiser to capture your contact information and permission to contact you without clicking through.
A search for “voucher codes” presents a paid ad for a well known UK voucher code company and below the ad the consumer is presented with a pre-filled email data capture field with an accompanying “Get Offers” button.
Yes, that’s right the email field is pre-filled so no extra heavy lifting for the casual browser that can’t quite manage to find the energy to click through onto the site to look for any specific offers!
Once you hit the “Get offers” button you then see a simple confirmation appear in the same place on the ad.
For anybody that might be concerned about privacy and how your data might be used by an advertiser or Google themselves then don’t worry because Google of course has this covered off with a handy “privacy link” in the ad.
When clicked a pop up box appears helpfully informing the cautious form filler that “When you submit this form, your email address will be sent to the advertiser”. Phew, thanks Google!
If this is something that is going to be rolled out across the UK it raises some very interesting questions.
Is Google really planning to charge per lead for these enquiries? If so, is it really sacrificing clicks for leads? How much are leads likely to cost? Will more data fields be captured in the future? How do these site extensions affect click through rates? Is the consumer contact opt-in for the advertiser only or for Google as well?
There are also more prosaic lead gen specific questions such as is there any validation on the leads? Do lead buyers pay for all leads or just valid ones? Are the leads time-stamped and sent to the advertiser in real-time (as recommended by IAB best practice) or are they batched up and sent sporadically?
Whatever the answers to these questions, it seems like yet more evidence that Google are getting very serious about online lead generation. As they increasingly go head-to-head with Facebook for precious advertising dollars, moving down the funnel from clicks to leads might help to consolidate their place as the real online advertising super power.