August 17, 2007 / 9:03 AM / 13 years ago

FACTBOX-Comparing the comparison sites

LONDON (Reuters) - The price comparison service industry is booming: there are myriad so-called “independent” Web sites that aim to help people make the most of their money.

But how they make their revenue varies considerably.

Here are key facts about 10 financial comparison and advice sites, listed in alphabetical order:

* Confused.com

Founded: April 2002 by David Stevens, founder and chief operating officer of Admiral insurance.

Owner: Admiral.

Provides: Price comparison data on car, home and travel insurance, and breakdown cover. Covers 97 percent of car insurance market and 67 percent of home insurance market.

Users: Generated nine million car insurance quotes in 2006, up 118 percent on the year.

Value: Made profits of 23.1 million pounds in 2006, up 162 percent on 2005. Merrill Lynch predicts profits will quadruple by 2010, giving estimated value of one billion pounds.

Revenue: Commission-per-sale model. Commission level varies between providers. Does not sell advertising.

Disclosed exceptions: RBS Group insurance brands (including Direct Line, Churchill, NIG, Privilege and Green Flag).

Based: Cardiff, with 60 staff.

* Fool.co.uk

Founded: September 1997 by Bruce Jackson and David Berger

Owned: Privately, by founders and employees

Provides: Editorial commentary, financial “tips” and price comparison data on credit cards, loans, mortgages, current accounts, savings, gas and electricity tariffs, as well as life, car, home, medical and travel insurance.

Users: 1.7 million members and 600,000 visitors per month.

Value: Undisclosed.

Revenue: Has commercial tie-ups, so “top” deals in most comparison tables feature products from advertising partners or single sponsors. Charges commission for “click-throughs” (excluding mortgages and insurance products). Commission level varies between providers. Sells advertising, but it is “minimal.”

Exceptions: Coverage of market ranges from panel of 10 insurers for life insurance to 99 percent of market in product areas compared using data from Moneyfacts.co.uk. These include savings, current accounts and credit cards.

Based: Soho, London, with 40 staff.

* Gocompare.com

Founded: November 2006 by team involved in setting up Confused.com

Owned: Privately, by founders and employees. Managing director Hayley Parsons is major shareholder.

Provides: Price comparison data on car, home and travel insurance, and breakdown cover.

Users: Generates 10-12,000 car insurances quotes per day

Value: Undisclosed

Revenue: Commission-per-sale. Most providers pay same rate, but some specialists are charged more, due to higher average premiums. Does not sell advertising.

Disclosed exceptions: Admiral and RBS Group brands.

Based: Newport, South Wales, with 20 staff.

* MoneyExpert.com

Founded: May 2003, following a management buyout of Blays, the longest-established provider of comparison data to the financial services industry.

Owned: Privately.

Provides: Price comparison data on credit cards, loans, insurance, savings, current accounts, mortgages, gas and electricity and equity release schemes.

Users: 250,000 visitors per month.

Value: Undisclosed.

Revenue: Commission-per-sale. Commission is charged at flat rate. Sells advertising, which accounts for less than 5 percent of income.

Disclosed exceptions: RBS Group.

Based: Newton-le-Willows, near Manchester, with 34 staff.

* Moneyfacts.co.uk

Founded: November 1988 by John Woods

Owner: Chief executive John Woods (97 percent) and non-executive director Nicola Lucking (3 percent)

Provides: Price comparison data on credit cards, current accounts, loans, savings, mortgages, pensions, annuities, investments, business accounts, travel money.

Users: 400,000 unique visitors per month.

Value: Undisclosed.

Revenue: Banks and building societies pay an annual licence fee to subscribe to its Datascreen product. Charges commission of 2.50 to 3.50 pounds per “click-through” on personal finance products. Sells advertising and raw data feeds to competitors, such as uSwitch.com, MoneyExtra.com and consumer group Which? Three monthly publications generate subscription income.

Disclosed exceptions: ICICI bank, Kent Reliance Building Society, Zopa.

Based: Norwich, with 120 staff

* Moneynet.co.uk

Founded: October 1997 by brothers Richard and Bob Brown.

Owner: Richard and Bob Brown are major shareholders. Liverpool Victoria holds minority stake.

Provides: Price comparison data on mortgages, loans, credit cards, savings, current accounts, car, household, life, medical and travel insurance.

Users: 120,000 unique visitors per month and 400,000 registered users.

Value: Estimated 20-30 million pounds, based on flotation/ sale price achieved by competitors.

Revenue: Charges product providers commission on “click-throughs”, per application or per sale. Deals and payment levels are individually negotiated. Receives commission from financial advisers it recommends and advertising income.

Exceptions: Covers more than 90 percent of market in most areas, but less in travel and household insurance where it has “a few selected providers”

Based: Bromley, Kent, with 15 staff

* MoneySavingExpert.co.uk

Founded: February 2003 by Martin Lewis.

Owner: Martin Lewis.

Provides: Articles, tools and forums designed to save consumers money. Links to other financial Web sites.

Users: 2.9 million unique visitors per month and 1.3 million registered users.

Value: Undisclosed

Revenue: Commission from affiliated providers on “click-throughs”, per application or per sale. Deals and payment levels are individually negotiated. It does not sell advertising.

Exceptions: None.

Based: Shepherds Bush, London, with 15 staff

* Moneysupermarket.com

Founded: December 1999 by Simon Nixon and Duncan Cameron

Owner: Public listed company. Chief executive Simon Nixon owns almost 55 percent

Provides: Price comparison data on credit cards, current accounts, mortgages, personal loans, savings accounts, broadband, mobile phone, utilities, insurance (breakdown, dental, home, life, medical, mortgage payment protection, motor, payment protection, pet, travel). Owns Travelsupermarket.com, which compares prices for airport parking, flights, car hire, hotels and package holidays

Users: 64 million in 2006.

Value: Floated in July 2007 at 764 million pounds.

Revenue: Charges product providers commission on “click-throughs”, per application or per sale. Deals and payment levels vary. Receives advertising revenue, which accounts for less than 20 percent of turnover.

Disclosed exceptions: RBS brands.

Based: Ewloe, Wales, with 600 staff.

* SimplySwitch.com

Founded: May 2002 by business partners Karen Darby and Alistair Tillen

Owner: Associated Northcliffe Digital, part of the Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) group.

Provides: Price comparison data on gas, electricity, home phone, broadband, mobile phone, credit cards and car insurance.

Users: Undisclosed due to “commercial sensitivity.”

Value: DMGT acquired SimplySwitch in August 2006 for 22 million pounds.

Revenue: Commission per sale. There are “minor” variations in commission levels. Does not sell advertising.

Disclosed exceptions: RBS Group.

Based: Croydon, with 82 staff.

* uSwitch.com

Founded: September 2000 by Lord Milford Haven

Owner: Media business EW Scripps.

Provides: Price comparison data on gas, electricity, home phone, broadband, mobile phone, digital TV, credit cards, loans, current accounts and car insurance.

Users: Undisclosed due to “commercial sensitivity.”

Value: EW Scripps acquired uSwitch in March 2006 for 210 million pounds.

Revenue: Commission. Declined to disclose further details.

Exceptions: Undisclosed.

Based: Victoria, London, with 161 staff.

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