Thursday, 19 February 2009

Will The Semantic Web Kill Price Comparison Sites... Please?

Maybe I'm confused, but every time I see a TV ad for one of the multitude of financial services price comparison web sites, I wonder what proportion of the gross product price or insurance premium is commission to cover all those advertising costs.

Yet it's claimed that I'd pay the same price if I went directly to the product provider...

So then I wonder: if there has to be enough fat in the price to cover multiple distributors' TV ad campaigns, why don't product providers start semantic publishing? That way, a widget on my own computer could scan their datafeeds and identify the product that's right for me, based on my personal profile and other parameters I specify?

Surely this would bring down the cost of products and I would also see the whole market, not just those who are prepared to pay to be on the price comparison sites?


Anonymous said...

You are SO right Simon!! These comparison sites are "brokers on commission wearing new clothes".

Working on a new model right now with Richard Ireland of Zopa and Techlightenment fame.

When will the financial industry FINALLY dump the smoke and mirrors, recognise what consumers really want and need and simply give it to them in a way that makes economic sense?

27 years in this sector, 7 years of almost achieving it at Virgin (but even they chickened out)and then freelancing to find the other remaining good guys - Zopa, B&CE, L&G on a good day, First Direct, and a few others - but man, its needles in haystacks!

Watch this space. And any like-minded souls please email

Keep up the great work Simon!


Anonymous said... (now defunct) tried to do that for the classifieds market, but failed because the difficulty of finding the data and massaging it into a consistant format.

Me & Antony Evans talked about having a platform bank that only existed as a channel for other products

I think that's the way things will go in the long-term. Just aggregating prices (as moneysupermarket does) without providing common channels/standards (although I suppose the economic function of moneysupermarket is to allow multiple providers to share a TV ad) doesn't really do enough.

(You could probably get better prices than going through moneysupermarket if those firms were on quidco...)

Pragmatist said...

Thanks guys!

Interested to hear what you and Mr Ireland are up to.

Semantic web definitely needs someone to get agreement from product providers to publish to an agreed ontology and vocabulary, but if it can be done in the pharmaceutical world, where the vocabulary is so much larger, it should be a doddle for, say, car insurance. But that's what, say, IT research funding is for (I think MIT may have facilitated semantic publishing of research in the pharma industry).


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