Agency holding co's should take note on several fronts, including the need to embrace data science and to create strategies that look beyond the paid channel. Agency trading desk efforts are one thing. Effective CRM strategies that create seamless online-offline connections with the consumer are something else entirely. Moreover, CRM strategies seem to be coming on stronger with digital's unique ability to address the consumer in real-time. If you can pull it off, as Merkle seems to be doing, you could have two of the biggest ad spenders in a single category in-house.
At the outset of his lunchtime keynote at the Merkle summit last Tuesday, Travelers Personal Insurance CMO Jay Gauthier graciously gave a shout-out to his Geico competitors in the audience on the success they've enjoyed. Gauthier then offered stats on how the insurance sector dominates within financial services when it comes to ad spend pouring through online and offline channels - including those ridiculous-sounding Search CPCs ($50 and up) for keyword phrases like “car insurance.”
Next came a fairly detailed use case of Travelers' marketing strategy around an insurance product for teen drivers that – through a device the size of a garage door opener in the car - provides a real-time data feed of the teen’s driving performance back to Travelers. This allows parents to see, and share, a report card of how their teen is behaving on the road. Travelers says this feedback loop makes teens better drivers – thereby reducing risk in insuring the teen.
Gauthier painted the marketing “picture” all the way to the Yahoo login page (Yahoo still matters!), where he said Travelers' digital retargeting “hooks” are now in place – and this is where he slammed on the breaks to his marketing presentation. Geico was in the room, after all. And yet, they both shared the same agency responsible for their digital CRM strategies.