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Comparison sites get a kicking, not a clicking

Comparison sites are slammed in the press today

The newspapers are full of stories reporting that the boss of the Financial Conduct Authority has damned insurance and other companies for manipulating search results on aggregator sites. “I’m very wary of comparison sites,” he’s reported to have said giving evidence to Parliament yesterday, “because they are all gamed…”. Consumer campaigners have also expressed concerns that companies are able to manipulate their positions on comparison sites.

Which magazine recently found a variation of £1,500 in the “cheapest car insurance” after feeding identical details into ten different websites. Little wonder then if consumers are beginning to see aggregator sites as being more like weasels rather than amusing meerkats. To be pedantic for a moment, a meerkat is actually a South African mongoose so representing it as being Russian is clearly false. But I digress, the question is if comparison sites continue to attract more bad press, how many brand conscious companies like Direct Line will pull out of aggregators all together? Also, how would this effect the way users search?

It may be that as more negative stories circulate about comparison sites, users will become more savvy in how they search, and companies that invest in their own paid search campaigns, rather than leave it to aggregators, will reap the rewards.

By Paul Booth

Paul is the Chief Executive Officer of The ATO Co, which delivers ATO AdWords copywriting for UK-only and international brands in over 80 countries around the world.