Google Inks Ad Deal With U.K. Insurance Co.

One of London’s top banking and insurance companies is turning to Google to get an edge on the competition.

Lloyds TSB Insurance Thursday said it has inked a deal worth an estimated one million pounds ($1.55 million) to give it more than 1,000 insurance-related keywords on the Silicon Valley-based search engine’s Web pages. The one-year partnership marks the largest single online advertising deal in Europe in recent memory.

The campaign is targeted at Google’s 7.5 million UK user base (according to Nielsen/NetRatings May 2002 stats) and is part of the insurer’s drive to generate traffic to its Web site and increase online sales for Lloyds TSB Insurance and its Screentrade brand. The deal was agreed after a successful three-month trial on Google.

The relationship with Google will be managed by the agency Zenith Interactive Solutions, who assisted with the strategy, proposals and negotiations.

Not to be confused with the Lloyds of London insurance exchange, Lloyds TSB has more than 2,300 bank branches. In addition to its retail and commercial banking operations, Lloyds TSB is a leading home mortgage lender through its Cheltenham & Gloucester unit and boasts a growing life and general insurance business that includes Lloyds TSB Life and Scottish Widows; these subsidiaries also offer pensions, investment funds, and other financial planning services.

“Lloyds TSB Insurance is well on the way to becoming the leading online provider of personal insurance in the UK. Google’s advertising program drives highly targeted traffic to our website and increases customer acquisition – all for a very high return on investment,” Lloyds TSB Insurance distribution director Mike Mitchell said in a statement.

Google is making inroads into the U.K. after opening its first office outside the US late last year. In addition to Lloyds, Google’s UK advertisers include Kelkoo, BT, British Gas, Opodo, British Airways, Ford and Virgin.

“Alongside the accurate and unbiased search results they expect from Google, our users can now discover related insurance products, services, and suppliers from a trusted household brand. Lloyds TSB Insurance will be exposed to more than 10 million potential customers over the coming year,” said Google’s head of U.K. advertising sales Kate Burns.

A relative newcomer in the field of keyword-based advertising, Google has found success selling “AdWords,” which appear to the right of its unpaid listings. The search engine offers both impression-based and, more recently, cost-per-click pricing.

Competing with the likes of Pasadena, Calif.-based Overture , Google has been able to use its moxie to score deals with big names like AOL-Time Warner , while at the same time complying with new government restrictions that mandate Web sites using paid search listings make their advertising practices and policies clearers to consumers.

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