Wednesday, 3 March 2010

By focusing on the reward they're not has had some interesting advertising over the last few years - and this despite (or possibly because of) a past trend of making their own adverts internally.

Their campaign in 2009 featured apparently real users who reviewed the site commenting on it's usability. Whilst many considered the adverts annoying, there is no denying that they tapped into the trend on user generated content - looking like they'd been made for youtube and so came across as possibly more authentic than competitors.

In the comparison site space however the show has been stolen recently by the Meerkat.

Apparently dreamt up as a way to reduce the reliance on expensive google keywords such as "compare" and "market" (rated at £12 and £5 per click respectively), it was a real coup to get people looking for "meerkat" instead (at just 5p per click). In the process however it has also created a real character which itself attracts over 700k Facebook fans and was made into a sell out toy at Harrods.

Not to be outdone, Go Compare created it's own character, the really annoying tenor - however I suspect this won't attract anywhere near the same kind of following or fan base.

So if you're a brand like, what do you do to fight back?

Well what they have done is refocus the discussion back onto the task in hand - namely saving money by comparing products. However this is nothing knew, many comparison sites highlight the typical savings you can make.

What have done which is clever though is to make these savings tangible. Rather than simply saying you can save £150, they have highlighted a product/purchase which you could have achieved with the saving - such as a new guitar or a pair of jeans.

The strategy works because people have less emotional attachment to cash. We see this in reward programmes all the time - cash based incentives and rewards are less motivating and under perform in comparison to tangible products.

By utilising products such as a new pair of designer jeans or a new guitar, are hoping to get deeper emotional engagement from the audience - letting them focus on something they want (which they will change behaviour for) rather than something they save.

Carlton Hood,'s chief executive highlighted this when he said:-

"What we have decided to do is to focus on bringing customers back to the site." going on to say "[This campaign] plays on this moment of regret, a character missing out on something – we have put in an emotion that we felt was very real and put humour in."

There is a real battle going on with comparison sites. In an industry which has grown quickly, the focus will now increasingly be on attracting back previous customers or taking them from competitors.

This can be fought to some degree by shouting the loudest - spending more on above the line - however increasingly it will require more retention marketing techniques and I think have done well to start this process.

Still not getting the logo though...