Our news item about British Gas suspending doorstep selling, and our comments that you should use a price comparison website to find the best energy deals has got me thinking. Do price comparison websites actually have a good future ahead of them?
Straight away, you think “of course they do”. Think about all that expensive TV adverting that companies such as uSwitch and CompareTheMarket.com do. Consumers are flocking to them eager to see how much they will save.
So why am I wondering what will happen to the myriad of price comparison web sites?
The answer is because Google bought BeatThatQuote for a cool £37.7 million in March. There must be a reason why Google would invest so much in one of the less well known price comparison sites.
I believe that reason is because Google wants to be a major provider of price comparisons. It does not want you to use uSwitch, moneysupermarket or the other players in the comparison market.
Google controls around 80% of internet search traffic in the UK, I don’t think it will be long before we see BeatThatQuote at the top of the search rankings and in prominent text advert positions.
When that happens, then the other price comparison sites will struggle to achieve high traffic levels from the Internet. Google will slowly shut off that stream of potential customers, making life difficult for its competitors.
If you are thinking this cannot happen, then look at searches for almost any product. Loh and behold, there is a prominent display of “shopping results” from companies paying Google for that premium listing.
Google has millions of shareholders looking for the company to find ways of increasing its revenue and profits. Revenue from price comparisons will be one of the ways it can do this.
The days of other price comparison websites may well be numbered! What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.