With a growing array of credit and insurance products floating around Australia’s financial ether, product comparison sites are increasing in popularity with consumers.
But how do the comparers compare in terms of quality of information and resource provision? And how do you, the consumer, utilise these product finders to your advantage?
When cute meerkats don’t cut it
New player Comparethemarket.com.au – yes the one with the meerkats –muscled its way into the Aussie online comparison arena in recent times. However the UK based company has fallen short of its goal to dominate the digital space, alienating wary users who are required to provide their name and a valid email address before utilizing the product finder.
This has been a boon for local site Finder.com.au, with Compare the Market failing to represent any real threat to their surging business success.
According to website ranking service Alexa, Finder.com.au enjoys the lion’s share of visitors to its product comparison portal. Not only does it boast 17 page views per visitor and more than 15 minutes on average spent surfing the site, it also lays claim to 10% of all new credit card applications originating from its product finder.
Inside information suggests Finder.com.au, which originally commenced in 2006 as creditcardfiner.com.au, generates up to $1million in revenue every week. The site currently has 13 product segments for consumers to browse and is blitzing the Brits’ Comparethemarket.com.au, despite their popular and extensive meerkat marketing campaigns.
More products and less clever promos
Aside from the issue of users navigating away from the site when asked to provide personal details, industry experts say the range of comparable product sets on Compare the Market is not extensive enough to pose any real threat to Finder’s ongoing popularity.
However Compare the Market still attracts more visitors than either InfoChoice or Canstar, with the latter, Brisbane based organisation being the oldest of all comparison services. Canstar is best known for its widely recognised gold star ratings and alongside InfoChoice, claims 2 million site visits per year.
Nine Entertainment’s RateCity, which draws its data from Canstar, is the second most visited banking product comparison resource in Australia at present.
However while the quantity of visitors to RateCity might be impressive, the quality is an entirely different issue, with Alexa reporting that site surfers only remain for an average of three minutes and click through to just 3 pages.
Then there’s relative newcomer Mozo, which relies heavily on its partnership with Fairfax to generate click-throughs to financial institutions. Mozo insists it is Australia’s largest banking product comparison service, although it attracts the least site visits of all the major players.
How do you compare?
A recent Financial System Inquiry suggested these types of product comparison services should be more entrenched in the fabric of the local finance industry.
Of course product finder companies have latched onto this idea and say it would provide better transparency and enhance healthy competition to benefit consumers.
Such a move would undoubtedly see more of these sites popping up in increasing numbers over coming years, particularly as savvy online shoppers continue to seek out comprehensive information around large financial decisions like loans, credit cards, insurances and other financial services.
While these sites can be incredibly useful for these smaller ticket items, there are still limitations when it comes to home loan products.
Given the ease of access people have to mortgage brokers nowadays, going it alone, even with the assistance of an online resource, is something I would advise clients against.
This is particularly true for property investors, whose debt structure should closely align with their overall investment objectives and strategy in order to ensure ongoing sustainability and success of their investment portfolio.
If you want to gain true insight into the best banking products for you, as a serious property investor, you simply can’t go past the efficacy of a properly qualified and experienced broker who has firsthand experience and investment knowledge. Maybe the next online service we will see is a mortgage broker comparison site…or one that does actually compare meerkats?