Oct 1 2013 Scott Neslund Blog Health & Pharma Digital Advertising for the New Age of Healthcare Insurance Today, we stand at a pivotal time for the insurance industry. As the Affordable Care Act begins to take effect, 12 million Americans are expected to buy insurance through the healthcare exchanges in 2014. This will drive millions of dollars worth of transactions in a commoditized environment where price and brand play a huge role in the decision making process. Insurers understand that there are large challenges for their customers as well. Now is the time for insurance advertisers to instill confidence, trust and loyalty with consumers. Increasing Complexity in Multiple Ways With the onset of reform laws and onslaught of insurance products being pushed to the market, the everyday consumer needs clarification. A PwC study, “2013 Insurance Industry Annual Report,” indicates the variety of factors that make it difficult to secure customers and instill brand loyalty. Generally, policy shopping and switching behavior is on the rise. Consumers have concerns about rising premiums, the increasing complexity of coverage options and job security. On top of the challenges in finding new customers, insurers are faced with the fact that the “At Risk” market (people looking to leave their current provider) is increasing, forcing vendors to focus on retention of policyholders. Growing Interest and Need for Insurance The market is open because insurance is more than just an interest for many people – it is a need. According to a CNN Money report, 50% of consumers obtain insurance from their employer. For those who don’t have employer-based insurance, 73% say they “definitely” or “probably” will shop for coverage using a state exchange. Furthermore, almost half of the employer and individual markets say they are interested in using an exchange. It is clear why there is growing interest: 45 million U.S. residents did not have health insurance during the first nine months of 2012. Among these are young adults who are Internet savvy, yet who have low motivation to enroll. Others are older (A49+) and are okay with the insurance they have or with having none at all. There is also the GenX and Baby boomer generation who make up nearly 30% of the uninsured and who cite cost as a major issue. Nevertheless, many in all of these groups say that they are interested in shopping for insurance in new marketplaces. However, for in-market customers, the window to make an impact is tight. To influence these types of consumers, it’s important for insurers to understand how and where they spend their time, so that advertising campaigns properly reach their target consumer and budgets are maximized. According to a Google Think Insights report, 69% of consumers complete their research in less than two weeks, making this a relatively fast purchase cycle. Private insurance shoppers are reportedly consuming 30 pages of content within 20 days. For Medicare shoppers, it is 39 pages in 17 days. Additionally, here are other ways consumers are involving technology with research: 75% of health insurance shoppers use a search engine for research; 64% comparison shop online By the end of 2013, 30% of all insurance search queries will be carried out on a cell phone 66% of online social media posts about health insurance occur before people select a provider The Importance of Online Consumers are actively searching for information because they are concerned. There is a lot of uncertainty and many people don’t know how health reform will affect them. They may not even know that they are mandated to have health insurance. One thing is certain – consumers will not rely on television for answers. They will tap online tools and resources and look to brands that they trust. Health insurance providers need to have a robust presence online. Providers will be valued by the education they bring, and digital media (whether it’s desktop, mobile, video, etc) is the channel to deliver it. Insurance brands are looking to emerge as guides for their customers in order to provide a clear path of what people should do to obtain insurance. As consumers looking for a policy increasingly turn to digital formats such as video, search, social and mobile, insurance advertisers need to align themselves with a partner who can help them navigate this space to position themselves as the trusted resource for customers. For more information on how Centro powers campaigns in the insurance industry, please visit: http://medialogistics.centro.net/industry-solutions-insurance.