Insurance companies are big ad spenders – both at radio and across multiple media platforms. GEICO is the category’s most prolific advertiser, accounting for nearly 35% of all insurance advertising, according to AdImpact, formerly Advertising Analytics, which provides data to advertisers and agencies. GEICO and its ubiquitous Gecko character ran a million ads more than the No. 2 advertiser, Progressive, across media outlets tracked by AdImpact.
Third place Liberty Mutual has throttled its spending, from averaging 26,000 weekly ad occurrences from April to October of last year to an average 36,000 weekly ad airings during the last six months. That allowed it to leapfrog Progressive, which went from 37,000 to 31,000 average weekly ad occurrences during the same period. In what AdImpact calls “a model of consistency,” State Farm averaged 15,700 airings a week over the past year.
All of these providers are well represented on the radio airwaves, albeit in a different order. The insurance category produced three of the top 10 radio advertisers of 2020, including the top two. It was a close horse race at the top with top-ranked Progressive airing 2.7 million radio spots in 2020, and GEICO close behind at No. 2 with 2.2 million spots, according to Media Monitors, which tracks national advertising in 110 markets. Allstate ranked as radio’s No. 6 advertiser of 2020 with 1.6 million spots, making a get-out-of-the-way move from No. 59 in 2019. State Farm was No.15 in 2020, Liberty Mutual No. 18, USAA Insurance No. 28, United Healthcare No. 51, and PMC Protect My Car No. 70.
Across all media tracked by AdImpact, insurance ranks as the fifth largest category, trailing only consumer packaged goods, food and beverage, telecommunications, and automotive. And while insurance carriers represent less than 2% of all advertisers tracked by the service, they punch above their weight in memorability and their use of humor. “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,” the company writes in its latest blog post. And with the irrepressible Flo, Progressive is far from alone in its liberal use of humor to grab the attention of time-starved consumers. There’s also Jake from State Farm, the Gecko, Mayhem, The Aflac Duck, and the relatively new duo LiMu Emu and Doug.
“The humor, however, is just a way to introduce products and services,” notes AdImpact. The big buzzwords in current insurance company messaging are bundle, customize, and save and on these subjects most insurers are fairly message disciplined,” it says.
There is good reason why insurance is among radio’s biggest national advertisers. AnalyticOwl examined 35,700 radio ads that aired last year for insurers and found radio increased traffic to an insurance advertiser’s website by an average 15%, compared to when the spots were not running. And every radio ad aired, generated an average 2.2 new website visits. In other words, for the nearly 36,000 radio spots examined, the radio ads generated more than 135,000 website visits.
How much did insurance carriers up their radio commitment in 2020? At network radio alone, total spending in the category rose 28% in the first ten months of 2020 to $125.8 million, from $97.9 million last year, according to Miller Kaplan.