April 23, 2021
Insurance, insurance, insurance. Something we all need, something none of us really want to deal with. Insurance providers are prolific advertisers; among the categories of advertisers we track (not including “other”) they rank fifth behind consumer packaged goods, food and beverage, telecommunications, and automotive. That being said, they represent less than 2% of all advertisers we track. But, while most people can only vaguely remember the newest Ram ad or McDonald’s commercial, many people have a favorite insurance commercial and you’d be hard-pressed to find any American who doesn’t recognize Flo.
Insurance Advertising Trends
Insurance advertising started getting humorous in the late 1990s with the Geico Gecko, Geico saw such success after the introduction of the Gecko that most insurers have taken the hint and jumped on the humor train. Today, we have Flo, Jake from State Farm, the Gecko, Mayhem, The Aflac Duck, and the relatively new duo LiMu Emu and Doug; all of which currently appear in ads from these insurers. You may also remember the cavemen, Dr. Rick, or J.K. Simmons as the Farmers insurance professor. Even ads without the mascots or spokespeople are generally at least somewhat humorous in nature (think the Geico motorcycle insurance ad where the guy is singing in the middle of the DMV). Needless to say, the Gecko started something that won’t be going away any time soon.
The humor, however, is just a way to introduce products and services. So, what are insurance providers currently messaging on? The big buzzwords at the moment are bundle, customize, and save and on these subjects most insurers are fairly message disciplined. Of the top five advertising insurers, Geico is the only one running big ad campaigns about multiple products and services at once with bundle campaigns, savings campaigns, and motorcycle insurance campaigns all currently running. The alternative is exemplified by State Farm; they are running basically just one campaign and it’s people giving things to Jake from State Farm as a way of saying thanks for the customized insurance deal he gave them. Allstate has the same consistent messaging strategy surrounding the benefits you can get from their app, with one caveat: Allstate is the only insurance company advertising a non-insurance product, a new suite of data privacy features in their app.
Now let’s dive into the data.
Geico has been the biggest insurance advertiser for a long time and it doesn’t seem like any other agencies are gunning for that title. Over the past 12 months, they accounted for nearly 35% of all insurance advertising running more than a million ads more than the number two advertiser, Progressive. However, among the other four of the top five insurers, there is some variability as can be seen below. We’ve all probably noticed Liberty Mutual more in the past few year, and our data shows that it’s not just because their creatives are getting funnier and more interesting. Just this past year, they went from averaging 26,000 weekly ad occurrences from April to October of last year to averaging 36,000 weekly ad airings the last six months. Surpassing Progressive who went from 37,000 to 31,000 average weekly ad occurrences during the same period. State Farm, a model of consistency averaged 15,700 airings a week over the past year. Not surprisingly, car insurance is required everywhere and other types of insurance are needed everywhere, so there’s no significant regional or state focus by any of the major insurers. Insurance advertising has been captivating us for 20 years, it’ll be interesting to see where they go next, especially as many insurers are beginning to focus on bundling auto insurance with other offerings.