The project is one of two initiatives that Google recently explored to help advertisers reach "credit-worthy consumers" online. For both projects, Google partnered with Compete and the research firm's 2 million U.S. consumers who opt into these types of projects.
"Let's say we have an advertiser who wants to reach consumers with a high FICO score who applied for mortgages in the first quarter," Korsunsky says. "We can provide the advertiser with a list of Web sites on our Google content network that index against this segment."
Korsunsky says Google's Content Network can reach 70% of credit card applicants with a high FICO score, 87% of mortgage applicants with a high FICO score, and 90% of the people who visit small business sites who have a high FICO score.
The strategy is not limited to advertisers who want to reach consumers looking for a credit card. Based on the search research, Korsunsky says other industry segments, such as luxury retailers and hotels, could also use this data to reach "high credit-worthy consumers."
Compete's sister company integrated the FICO data with searches done by participating consumers who applied for a credit card between January and March 2009. Through this data, Google would analyze the search behavior that led the applicants to apply. Compete panelists were placed into three categories based on their FICO score: Super Prime (720 and above), Prime (600 to 719), and Sub-Prime (below 600).
More than half of the people who looked for a new credit card online fall into the Super Prime segment. This segment performs many searches because they are not as "credit hungry as some of the other segments." The research shows that 34% of applicants do five or more queries while they shop. These consumers are significantly more likely to apply for a card.
Consumers with high FICO scores demonstrate some unique attributes that show they shop carefully for the best cards. For example, shoppers begin using search earlier in their application process, they use the term "best credit cards" at three times the rate of lower FICO shoppers, and they are more likely to use branded terms.
Another interesting fact: Consumers with high FICO scores use non-branded search terms more than branded -- approximately 60% of high FICO searchers. They tend to search on terms, such as "travel rewards," "low rate," and "balance transfer."
"Marketers expanding into a term like 'credit card' into a campaign -- they should have their ad copy prequalify a good credit shopper," Korsunsky says. "So adding copy like 'have good credit, apply for a card today' would let marketers filter out people without good credit."