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Google testing car rental comparison ad unit in search results

The car rental comparison box appears among the ads at the top of the search results. Screenshot: SEMRush

Google is testing a sponsored widget for car rentals in the search results.

Spotted by SEMRush, the ad unit allows users to enter the kind of rental they’re looking for, along with the dates needed. Ads appear below with offers from car rental agencies, including the day rate and car model. The example above shows offers from Priceline and Thrifty.

Google isn’t commenting, other than to confirm the test. “We’re always testing new ways to improve our experience for our advertisers and users, but don’t have anything specific to announce right now,” a Google spokesperson said in a standard statement.

Currently, a typical airport car rental search result page in Google features text ads and a local pack.

Why we should care. The sponsored car rental widget puts a comparison function at (or near) the top of the page and could conceivably drive higher engagements than individual listings and ads. Currently, car rental search results typically include a number of text ads followed by a local pack.

Google runs similar sponsored widgets for Flights and Hotels in the search results. As far as I’m aware, this is the first foray into a special program for car rentals. Presumably, as with Hotels, Flights and Shopping ads, the car rental offers are powered by data feeds. It’s also another example of Google enabling users to research and take actions from right within the search results.

In 2015, Google shut down a lead generation product called Google Compare. I mention it only because it was another example of Google featuring vertical offers in dedicated ad units in the search results. That program showed offers on searches for credit cards, auto insurance, mortgages and travel insurance.

It’s not clear how widespread this test is at this point.

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