Google launches new lead gen product as search bug quashes competitors

If questions lingered about Google’s commitment to lead gen, the world’s most popular search engine answered them this week with the launch of Google Compare for mortgages.

The service, which helps consumers shop for a mortgage from multiple lenders, was announced earlier this year and is now available in California. Google plans to launch in other states soon.

Google pulls the trigger, gets into lead gen

In late August, we reported on a lawsuit filed against Google by LendingTree alleging that Google was planning to offer an online lead gen service related to mortgages using technology offered by a LendingTree vendor that was contractually forbidden from working with LendingTree’s competitors.

While the status of that lawsuit is unknown, it is now official: Google has entered the lead gen business.

What if Google gets into the lead gen business?

This week Google was sued by Lending Tree, a company whose website enables consumers looking for mortgages and other loans to connect with lenders. LendingTree alleges that Google is planning to launch an online loan exchange of its own and that it will use technology provided by one of LendingTree’s vendor. The problem: LendingTree alleges the vendor is contractually forbidden from working with LendingTree competitors, which LendingTree clearly believes Google is.

For its part, Google says that it’s simply “working on a small ad unit test that will run against a limited number of mortgage-related search queries in the U.S.” So while we don’t yet have enough in the way of hard facts to evaluate the merits of LendingTree’s claims, the lawsuit raises an interesting question: what if Google gets into the lead gen business?