A Plea to Insurers: Consider ‘Co-Opetition’

Patrick QuigleyPatrick Quigley, Chief Executive Officer

Let other insurers advertise to the customers you can’t give a policy to. What do you have to lose?

Marketing luminary John Wanamaker famously believed he was wasting half of his advertising budget but was unsure which half. At Katch, we’ve spent a lot of time pondering that principle. It’s interesting for us to think about how our obstacles evolve just as our technology does. Today, advertisers aren’t wasting their money but, rather, spending it in smarter ways with more quantifiable results. But they’re not doing enough to keep up with technology and stay ahead of the curve.

As technology and training continue to evolve, we are presented with more opportunities for monetization, and in order to stay ahead of the curve, we must be willing to accept these new opportunities — even those that may seem like risks or (dare we say?) collusion. An emerging strategy that CIOs and CMOs should be prepared to see in coming months is technology that allows competitors’ advertisements on their websites. This is a huge opportunity, particularly so for the insurance market, which is in the business of providing services to buyers in active pursuit.

As is inevitable sometimes, one company is unable to provide coverage, based on a number of factors. Rather than presenting a “sorry page” to prospects and forcing them to turn away, this new tactic allows competitors to pay for ad space on your page to present their options to the buyer. You win, even though you’re unable to cover that buyer, as the loss translates into revenue from your competitor’s purchased ad space. Additionally, you’re helping that customer ultimately get what he or she needs: a policy.

We already see the success of this technique at Amazon: “Looking for a coffee pot? We’re sold out, but check out this other site that has one.” Amazon wins because that other site paid for that ad space, so while it lost out on the sale, it still brought in revenue. The customer wins because he purchased exactly what he needed.

Beyond traditional opportunities, this tactic becomes more relevant during certain times for different industries — like before open enrollment for health insurance companies. A recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that among respondents who considered multiple health plans, 80 percent said their monthly premium was most important to them when choosing their current plans over other choices. Other factors, like range of benefits and recommendations, fell much lower on the scale (63% and 24%, respectively). At the end of the day, cost reigns supreme. If a buyer can’t get a product from you, and she’s going to go to a competitor anyway, why not help her get there in a way that helps your bottom line?

We are only able to move forward as an industry by embracing the wide range of technical options — and slaughtering the sacred cow of online marketing that suggests you can’t host an ad for a competitor’s offering. We have the power of data and analytics, but they’re useless if they’re not being incorporated into our online strategies to target relevant consumers in new ways. Not only does this require a certain amount of risk, but it also requires a great deal of collaboration between CIOs and CMOs, who operate in worlds that are becoming increasingly intertwined.

Fine-tuning tried and true methods like native advertising and mobile marketing, and embracing the new like competitor advertising, assures your company a seat at the table in years to come.