For Allstate, Geo-Data Is Best For Influencing Future Behavior, Not The Present

The best combination of formats and targeting can create significant shifts in sales and consideration, says the MMA’s SMoX attribution study for Allstate Insurance.

In trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t when it comes to location-based advertising’s ability to connect with consumers, Allstate Insurance and the Mobile Marketing Association found that context is king and clickthroughs are dead.

For years, the mobile ad industry in particular has found clickthrough rates problematic as a way to tell whether or not a campaign generated actual sales or store traffic.

Ultimately, the MMA’s SMoX study (short for “Smart Cross-Marketing Attribution Research”) of an Allstate campaign last summer advises the development of  “unified, real-time data measurement practices, and apply them across all their channels and down to individual users, in order to accurately attribute performance and optimize campaigns on the fly.”

Allstate’s Search For Good Mobile Hands

The MMA’s report, released in conjunction with its Location Leadership Forum, took a deep look at clickthroughs and other ad measurement methods on behalf of an Allstate effort to target consumers to see how well its mobile ads drove sales.

The study focused on consumers, age 18 and over, who were potential candidates for Allstate auto and home insurance. Data collection occurred between June 1 and August 31, 2016 with the campaign appearing in a full range of traditional and digital media, including TV, radio, print and out-of-home. the MMA said.

Allstate had two goals: develop brand affinity among general in-market insurance consumers and  target the ones who were specifically interested in auto protection products. The company also had three basic questions it wanted answered:

  • What’s the proper role for mobile ads in its marketing mix?
  • What’s the right level of mobile ad spending?
  • How can Allstate achieve the greatest ROI for its mobile marketing?


“In the case of Allstate, the answer to question one is that 13 percent of the total ad budget is the optimized mobile allocation, even if no improvements were made in the mix of mobile tactics. Yet, with further refinements — that figure jumps to 17 percent. Importantly, these allocations would result in incremental sales from the campaign, increasing sales by four and seven percent respectively.

Voice Search Not A Factor — Yet

The examination of Allstate’s mobile marketing strategy was limited display, audio, video. Search — and search using intelligent assistants like Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri — was not considered.

But that could become a bigger factor in the brand’s marketing programs this year, especially if it is seriously reevaluating where its putting its digital dollars.

In February, Allstate initiated a connection with Amazon’s Alexa. Customers with an Amazon Echo can ask Alexa for help finding the due date on their next bill or what the minimum amount due might be.

For general consumers, Alexa can assist with locating the nearest Allstate agency office by zip code, noted Roger Tye, Allstate’s VP of Digital and User Experience.

“Allstate has a history of innovation and consumers expect that to continue from us,” Tye said at the time. “Amazon’s innovation with Alexa provided a great avenue for us to connect with our customers in a delightful way, providing them useful information when, where and how they want it.”

Allstate identified opportunities for customers and consumers to utilize voice assistant capabilities to receive information from a local agent. Customers can enable the Allstate skill from the Skills section of the Amazon Alexa app. Once the Allstate skill is enabled, customers can invoke the skill by saying, “Alexa, ask Allstate…” and find an Agent using zip code search, find their Agent’s contact information, or when their auto insurance bill is due.

As such, Allstate and its competitors will likely be working to see how the use of voice-activated digital assistants are likely to diminish the idea of clickthroughs even more completely than its campaign last summer did.

Allstate’s use of targeted mix of banners, video, and audio elevated conversions.

Location’s Purpose For Allstate

The click may be as a good as dead (at least as far as Allstate is concerned) in terms of driving conversions, but problem of mobile banner blindness appears to be gaining greater sight — with the aid of location-based ad targeting.

Banners that employed location targeting improved the efficiency of sales per dollar spent compared to untargeted banners by a factor of nearly two, the report noted.

The study also delineated the specific challenges a brand like Allstate faces versus previous SMoX marketers such as Walmart, Coca-Cola, Mastercard, and Unilever consumer packaged goods products. As a service that is a more considered purchase than where one does their daily banking, Allstate has to respond to consumers’ decisions about the most dire aspects of their lives: home and car repair.

Aside from being issues that are short on the levity a credit card company can leverage, Allstate needs to be precise in all aspects of its messaging. Hence, the study proved the importance of physical location patterns of consumers as predictive in terms of defining an audience that is in the market for insurance.

The campaign used four different types of targeting: behavioral, contextual, location and retargeting — to reach consumers.

The best performer was behavioral, which far outperformed untargeted banners, scoring 272 out of an index of 100 when it came to incremental sales per dollar spent.

Retargeting consumers who expressed interest in Allstate performed more than two times better as compared to when it was not applied.

Lastly, contextual targeting also emerged as a strong driver of upper funnel/consideration, especially when coupled with high impact video, which increased the efficiency of that video by more than 90 percent.

“The insights we learned will have immense value over time as our marketing efforts evolve,” says Allstate CMO Sanjay Gupta. “This confirms our belief that in this fast changing world, what’s seen as tried and true in the past may not always be the best method for the future.”

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.