Given that the UK’s insurance industry is one of the strongest worldwide, how do the nation’s insurance companies and comparison sites approach the PPC market – specifically with respect to flood claims, which make up one of the industry’s most important sectors?
According to the Association of British Insurers’ (ABI) Insurance Industry Key Facts 2014, the UK insurance industry paid out £451 million for 18,700 flooding claims last winter. Meanwhile, for the same accounting period, the industry as a whole made a profit of £1.4 billion.
According to the ABI, the British insurance industry is the third largest in the world, after the US and Japan. Let’s see how the PPC market works for the flooding sector of this vital and profitable market.
Comparison Sites Versus Insurers
As you can see from the graph above, the top spots in this market are shared pretty fairly between the firms that provide the actual insurance and the websites that compare these firms’ prices and plans. It plots paid share of voice (SOV), the traffic that these sites generated through their PPC ads.
You might not be surprised to know that Money Supermarket, now a household name, has proven reliably successful at garnering search traction.
Meanwhile, Insurance Choice, a firm with far less publicity, soared from zero to hero at the beginning of October, rising above 30% SOV before hovering within 10 percentage points of that mark for the remainder of the period.
With a name like Insurance Choice, you might expect that they’re a comparison site, but they are in fact an insurer — specifically, a trading name for Insurance Factory. The fact that this trading name resembles one for a comparison site might well be part of their plan.
The comparison sites Confused.com, QuoteZone, and Quote Searcher, along with the insurer Adrian Flux, followed behind Insurance Choice, forming a highly volatile midsection of the market. Their SOVs jumped and dipped all over the place, from as low as 5% to as high as the 20% mark QuoteZone briefly earned.
It’s impressive that QuoteZone can beat companies with giant television ad campaigns like Confused.com while large, traditional insurers like Saga and Legal & General languished below 10%.
For Once, Spend = Share of Voice
Estimated share of spend data almost replicates the share of voice graph, which can be an unusual occurrence when it comes to sponsored search.
A number of reasons could lie behind this correlation. Insurance is very expensive, and customers don’t have the tactile, daily experience of this service they might have with their favourite food or computer brand.
As such, it makes sense for customers to be fickle and just go for the company with the best or first PPC ad that they see, rather than being motivated by brand loyalty. Hannah Holpe agrees, writing on SlideShare that insurance companies are great at getting new customers, but bad at holding onto them.
Caught the Customer’s Eye?
Given what we established above, you might think that catching the customer’s eye is fundamental to success.
But these ads are pretty bland, right? Where’s the response to Apple’s “Bigger than Big”? What would an insurance site’s slogan be? “More reliable than reliable”? “Paying out quicker than quick”?
Maybe these simple ads are what works when customers are searching for insurance coverage: all they want is coverage that works for them, comes at a cheap enough cost, and is provided by a company with a level head. In some ways, this is a battle for each company to prove that it “does what it says on the tin.”
On the other hand, maybe the PPC market for flood insurance could use some ad evangelism. Advertising for insurance like its a car and not a tin of paint might boost traffic, and Adthena’s ad copy analysis could help with such a venture.
Overall, this market presents one of the closest correlations between SOV and SOS that we’ve observed as of late. That said, the market still leaves room for plenty of competition, as the interaction between GoCompare and Insurance Choice shows.
However, such a market represents great potential for a company that can work the ad copy and keywords, gaining traffic without burning the cash: this is Adthena’s forte.
(Main image credit: David Short/flickr)