This week Google began testing a new feature, Comparison Ads. The Google Comparison Ads tool enables searchers to compare multiple, relevant offers together on one search engine results page. While this new feature is still in the testing phase, that could give shopping search engines like Shopzilla and BizRate a run for their money.

While Google has strong metrics for assessing user intent, it is not always spot-on. The new Comparison Ads tool allows users to clarify exactly what they are looking for, and then view the relevant offers side-by-side. If a searcher is interested in your product or service, they are provided with a phone number (generated by Google) or can provide their contact information through a “Request Quote” link. It is a pay-per-lead model, so the advertiser is only charged if the number is called or if the quote request is completed.

In the example provided by Google, if a user searches for “mortgage”, Google will prompt the searcher to clarify if they are looking to “buy a home” or “refinance”. Once selected, the searcher is directed to a one-page view off all offers relevant to their search query If a search query interests them, then they can call a number provided or request a quote.

The Comparison Ads tool claims to boost the user experience in three ways: speed, transparency and privacy. First, the new tool will decrease user-time spent finding a relevant offer. The tool can serve relevant, specific offers in less than a second. Plus, all ads will be very specific offers, so there cannot be deception in the ad text, including gimmicky rates and savings. Finally, Google will keep the searchers personal information private from the advertiser, unless explicitly provided by the searcher.

If you ask me, this tool can be both good and bad for advertisers. I agree that it will enhance the searcher experience by providing relevant, transparent ads in a side-by-side view. Plus, many competitive industries would greatly benefit from a pay-per-lead system, as it will surely increase conversion rates and improve an advertisers return on investment.

However, there needs to be an opt-in feature for this tool if it were rolled out globally. What happens to pay-per-click advertisers that are purely volume driven? How would this roll out for ecommerce sites where browsing is encouraged? This tool can only benefit advertisers who are lead driven, as click volume will significantly decrease under this pay-per-lead model.

Right now Google has only made the Comparison Ads tool available to limited advertisers in the mortgage and refinance sectors. It will be interesting to see how this tool shifts the current pay-per-click model.

Do you think this new tool will help or harm you current pay-per-click campaign?