Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

GoCompare picks programmatic advertising for successful channel diversification

At the Programmatic Pioneers Summit, CvE’s International President, Paul Frampton, appeared on the virtual stage with GoCompare’s Director of Digital Marketing, Peter Sensier, and Adform’s Country Manager for the UK, Benelux, and France, Philip Acton, to discuss how the trio worked together to prove the incremental value of display advertising for GoCompare. The panel was moderated by Louise Kloster, SVP Marketing at Adform.

GoCompare was faced with the challenge of acquiring new customers and retaining existing ones. It’s long focused particularly on its well-known TV ads as well as on paid search, but wanted to reduce its dependency on the latter. As such, the Future plc-owned business decided it was time to look at channel diversification.

In the past, display advertising wasn’t of much interest to GoCompare, choosing to use it sparingly. However, this didn’t quite sit right with Sensier when he joined the company a little over a year ago, as he has “always been a proponent of using display”.

“I wanted to explore the channel, but the first thing was to understand and demonstrate the incremental value of the channel,” said Sensier. “So, we needed to find a way to demonstrate that value and, after that, also develop a number of learnings or specific criteria that we could use to target, drive performance, and report against. We looked at where our current activity was and felt we needed to find a partner – or partners – that could actually help us to facilitate that.”

Forming a partnership

GoCompare’s desire to build a partnership around its ambitions led to the business firstly linking up with adtech company Adform.

Last year, Adform launched a platform called ‘Flow’, an enterprise technology designed with the aim of making it easier for marketers to plan, buy, and activate media.

Using its new platform, Adform saw the opportunity to look at audience-based optimisation and dynamic creative with GoCompare, while also looking at ways to widen the funnel and capitalise on the opportunity that exists mid-funnel for the financial services comparison site.

“We sat down with Pete and his team and worked out the making of a good test brief. Once we had that, it was then about finding that trusted partner that could help execute on this. And it was a pretty short shortlist,” said Adform’s Acton. “We’re talking about a lift test here. We’re talking about a control versus exposed test, so you can see where I’m going with this. The first person we rang was Paul and we said, ‘this is a great opportunity for us to work together’.”

Decent exposure

Enter the Goodway Group’s Control v. Exposed (CvE), which provides expertise around measurement, analytics, and consulting in relation to media strategy and activation. Alongside Adform, CvE provided a fully independent solution, where full transparency was provided around test methodology and results.

The trio agreed on an experiment which would feature a “control group of people that are the same type of people we would target based on profile and propensity to want to click out to one of GoCompare’s insurance partners, but one where we could actually isolate those that we didn’t want to advertise to,” according to CvE’s Frampton.

CvE created a structure where it utilised 10% of the available budget to target non-GoCompare ads. The agency then tested for targeting, recency, and frequency to understand what was driving ‘real’ conversion and found there was baseline noise from people that would’ve visited GoCompare anyway and those that had converted from above-the-line ads on TV, out-of-home, radio etc.

As a result, CvE removed around 60% of the baseline and only looked at 40% of conversions in the ‘exposed’ group. Nonetheless, it was still found that people that were exposed to GoCompare’s display ads were 74% more likely to have responded.

“We were able to show value,” said Frampton. “But that value wasn’t in people clicking the ad, it was in people just seeing the ad and then, after seeing several versions of a GoCompare ad online, actually going and doing something about it.

“The key here is incrementality. GoCompare is an advertiser that spends a lot of budget so, to carve off budget or add incremental budget, you need to know that it’s going to do a task that isn’t already being done.”

Sensier added, “The results were really encouraging for us. It helped us to prove what we expected – that there’s value in the activity. 38% was our incrementality for the channel, which is really great for us.”

As a result of robust testing, display is now a constant on the brand’s monthly media plan.  The findings of the experiment meant that Sensier’s team was able to go back to the business and show that display can provide GoCompare with the opportunity to grow, diversify its channel mix, and deliver more against its KPIs.

It also provided the company with data points, such as the length of the impression window and the volume of impressions, that it could use to target programmatically.

Future focus

Moving forward, GoCompare, CvE, and Adform will continue to explore ways that they can develop their partnership and look at what can be done around other parts of the funnel.

“With more time and with more budget, we can be more creative on some of the use cases that we had,” said Acton. “We can certainly look at various parts of the funnel. What excites me about this opportunity is that GoCompare does a huge amount of TV advertising and a little bit of radio advertising. These are two channels that have very much exploded in the past 12 months, particularly CTV.”

GoCompare will also look to explore how it can better leverage the publishing power it is backed by at Future plc.

“We’re really lucky as an advertiser because we’ve got the Future network to look. So, we just want to apply the same level of rigour to our own platform and see how that performs,” said Sensier. “We have a belief that we’ll probably require more than one platform to hit all of our audiences in the most effective way. So, the support I need from these guys is how we integrate our own offering effectively and get the best out of it.

“Naturally, this is all against the backdrop of the whole privacy piece. We’re doing that correctly. It’s not a bad thing if we’re protecting privacy and delivering a good advertising service,” concluded Sensier.

*CvE is a client of Bluestripe Communications, owned by Bluestripe Group, the owner of NDA

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