December 2, 2010

Speaking of confuse.com, as we were in that other story about death driver doctors or whatever, their chief marketing officer Mike Hoban recently gave a fascinating interview to New Media Age, in which he explained how all this internet marketing stuff works.

Confuse.com’s new secret weapon in the battle against Meerkats and comedy tenors, as you’ve probably noticed, is a singing version of the confused man – now a woman called Cara.

“We want [people] to use us because they actually like us and prefer us, not just because ours is the first name they think of,” Hoban says. So the new advertisements are deliberately subtle.

“Our list of questions on home insurance is the longest around,” he boasts, although “this might be annoying to fill in,” he accepts, arguing in mitigation that people will get a quote that properly reflects all the risk factors they bring to the table.

What role does digital marketing play, New Media Age inevitably ask, in a battle so focused on the unwatched/fast-forwarded gaps between shows on something called television?

Hoban is quick with an illustration: one recent confuse.com ad claimed the internet was the greatest invention of the 21st century. This provoked “a flurry” of comments on Twitter, Facebook and blogs pointing out that the internet might marginally have predated the current century.

“That was great,” Hoban insists. “It got a conversation going,” he says. So look out for further untrue statements in future confuse.com publicity.

Confuse spends over £15 million on advertising and just a fraction of this on digital marketing. But Hoban professes enthusiasm for the medium. “Digital has reinvented marketing and enabled the relationship with customers to become much more responsive and direct.”

The firm’s CEO and PR chief apparently tweet – though they will probably stop soon as Hoban says “Brands on Twitter are like dads at 18th birthday parties: they’re tolerated as long as they don’t outstay their welcome.”

Comparison firms could be employing more people, Hoban reckons. Half of those who buy car insurance do so “after checking a price-comparison site,” he says. “Yet the big four companies in this space only employ around 1,000 people. There’s still massive opportunity for growth.”

Heartening news for anyone in insurance who’s concerned about their job security!


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