Google will close down its lead gen platform, Google Compare, by the end of March. Compare was, as the name infers, a way for shoppers to compare pricing and get quotes for services focused primarily in finance and insurance. After a 12 month run, Google sent an email to the partners letting them know that the lead gen platform was being eliminated.
Optimizing for clicks is one thing. Optimizing for conversions at various target CPAs, for different brands and products is a whole different game. Getting someone to click on the ad is just the beginning of the challenge.
When I was at Leapfrog Online we managed and optimized these programs for financial services, automotive and telecom all the way through the pipeline to the sale. Supplying leads is one thing (we generated our own), but managing them through to process, to optimize what works and either fix or trash what doesn’t is not just an algorithm. It’s about people and it is hard.
The lead gen space is tricky. It requires constant attention. The companies getting the leads need quality, at an affordable price, consistently. But, it doesn’t stop there. At different points, the companies will have an initiative and need more volume and are willing to pay for it, but only for certain segments and only if the volume actual goes over a minimum amount. There is a constant dialogue about the quality of the leads, placement of the client, and requests for more information; constant hand holding.
I am guessing that this side of the equation is not what Google was counting on. It requires resources well beyond media optimization. It requires a lot resources to manage the customers.
It may be that Google’s target margins for their operating units are just too high for the lead gen space. Perhaps good quality leads were coming from Google Compare. Whether Google was good at it or not, there is a lead gen community both breathing a sigh of relief and muttering “I told you it wasn’t that easy.”