Esurance's Rise Is Driven by DR1 Sep, 2009 By: Thomas Haire Response
Esurance's Rise Is Driven by DR
"Our account teams at MPG and Media Contacts Direct are integral partners in the success of our business," Howard says. "They are responsible for placement of the largest element in our marketing arsenal — national television. Since the bulk is placed as DRTV, it's important that we have agency partners who understand our business goals."
Howard also says Esurance's media partners are tasked with ensuring the company's media spend can "maximize growth at our allowable acquisition costs," which he calls "a tricky balancing act, with all the uncertainty in the media marketplace this year."
He also believes flexibility to be a crucial factor for success. "We constantly review performance and make adjustments to our buys to ensure maximum growth at allowable costs," he says. "Since we are 'in-flight' 52 weeks per year with advertising, we can typically give vendors scheduling flexibility to ensure good rates."
Still, over the years, no matter how good your creative or your media planning may be, Howard has learned that successful DR marketing comes down to two things — the quality of the product and how effectively a marketer can measure the results of a campaign.
Howard reflects on his days at Turner when thinking about the importance of product. "The most successful campaign I've been involved in was the re-branding of TNT as the network for drama," he says. "After a lot of viewer research and with strong leadership from the network's general manager, the entire network was on board with the effort to re-brand and introduce the tagline 'We Know Drama.' The key to success was that our strong marketing plan was backed up by high quality dramatic programming. Advertising only works if the product works."
But if product is king, then in DR, measurement is surely the crown prince.
"My most important learning experience in using DR has been in the development of an econometric media model for Esurance," says Howard. "Most of our offline advertising, and some of our online advertising, drives people to a single URL or phone number. Since these DR efforts are focused on making Esurance top-of-mind the next time a person is shopping for auto insurance, rather than driving an immediate response, the measurement of ROI becomes more complicated."
Howard says that the Esurance team has created — and continues to tweak — a model that answers the age-old question for a DR campaign: what media element or combination of elements drove that person to contact us? He says. "We've created a model that uses media delivery and business results over time, along with macroeconomic variables, to predict response to different media types, including TV, radio, and outdoor, among others. This allows us to first determine allowable media costs that are likely to deliver on acquisition cost objectives, then review results and hone the model as we gather more data."