Comparing the Comparison Websites

27 01 2011

In preparing this post I’ve not gone out of my way to research the marketing activity of the comparison sites, instead it has been based on how and when their messages have made it through to me during my natural use of media, the internet and general everyday life.

 This is important to stress because in this day and age marketers are faced with a huge raft media choices for their campaigns, and one of their critical success factors will depend on identifying the right combination of media to ensure that their messages reach the appropriate volume of potential customers.

 The other part of the equation that also plays a crucial role in the success of the campaigns is the creative executions they use, and this post is focuses on these ATL campaigns.

 As it is by no means a definitive post please do feel free to comment and add your views to my comparison of the comparisons.

I know there are more than 4 comparison websites however the four that I know of, due to their marketing activity are:

Compare the Market

Go Compare

Confused

Money Supermarket.com

I’ve listed these in order of what I consider to be marketing excellence with the first 2 being considerably ahead of the latter in terms of their success in getting my attention. It would be interesting to know if my order reflects their current performance.

If you think about Compare the Market what thoughts come in your mind? Of course you think of the Meerkats and the exceptionally creative ads that have brought them to life. Appropriately they are supported by their own website and ultimately are becoming an integral part of the Compare the Market brand. Creatively there is huge scope to continue developing the Meerkats particularly if they become increasingly humorous, and move closer to their customers through an increased use of social media.

From a marketing perspective this works because as a comparison site you want to appeal to as many people as possible, however with society becoming so diverse it becomes increasingly difficult to create campaigns that appeal to a mass market. On that basis the genius of the Meerkats is that they are truly difficult for anyone to dislike or object to. Further they appear in well produced ads that are now taking the concept to the next level by introducing new characters and stories for us to enjoy.

Overall this puts Compare the Market in a very strong position and in my opinion ahead of the other three.

Next up is Go Compare and didn’t you just nearly fall off your sofa the first time Gio Compario aired on our screens. He didn’t give you an option but to take notice of the ad, basically because of the song that is loud and fast paced. This is smart marketing, as increasingly in homes across the country, the TV is just on in the background as people surf the net instead. So shouting it out loud is one way to get potential customers to look up from their laptops.

As a character and as ad campaign Gio really is “Marmite” however so long as sufficient numbers of people either like or are emotion neutral towards him Go Compare have got it right as those people will remember their name and use it. Of all comparison sites Go Compare also seem to have also made the most use of commercial radio and considering the importance of the theme song to their campaign this makes absolute sense.

I’m not however certain that Gio has the same potential as the Meerkats to become an integral aspect of their brand, however they do have huge potential to drive maximum benefit from their theme tune and at the same time generate further traffic to their site, and an even higher level of consumer awareness.

This I believe they could achieve by launching an online competition to encourage people to video and upload themselves singing the Go Compare theme tune. Clearly a perfect social media opportunity and if categories were set-up, for example: choirs, individuals, schools, pop groups etc with prizes on offer you’ve created a huge almost X-Factor like online competition all based around your theme tune. This promotion could be further enhanced by asking the public to vote for their favourites, which of course they’d have to do by visiting the Go Compare site and registering their email address (further emarketing use potential). To conclude the competition you’d probably want to run a live final with some expert judges and of course the winner would perform with Gio and become a TV ad for Go Compare.

By doing something like this Go Compare would, I believe, start to become seen as the brand of choice amongst the comparison sites and it could even give them competitive advantage over Compare the Market.

This brings me to Confused.com, where a few months ago I remember their boss on the Welsh TV news explaining they’d had a drop in performance and that he knew their advertising wasn’t doing the job they wanted it to do. I really respect him for saying this and being so open – truly commendable and of course I looked forward to their new ads, and then I saw them.

Firstly as we’ve seen with Go Compare music can work really well in an advert, however using “Need Somebody to Love” as the music – I just don’t get it. Likewise cartoons can be great however again lots of cartoon people dancing around, makes me ask what does Go Compare want me to think and ultimately what do they want me to do? Unfortunately, it really doesn’t make me want to type www.confused.com into my laptop.

Then you get the message about being 18 million strong – OK they want me to know they have lots of customers, and yet I’m still not encouraged to visit the site. Is being 18 million strong the strongest and most convincing message to get me to visit Confused? I’m not convinced.

Also I’m a little concerned about this figure because it isn’t validated, so does it mean that today they have 18 million current customers or does it mean they have served 18 million customers since they went live? Guess what I’m confused but not in a good way.

That said and done I do believe that Confused does the potential to make-up much of the ground it has no doubt lost to Compare the Market and Go Compare, however in order to this they would need to become far more radical in their marketing activity.

Having Confused as a name is just crying out for a huge dose of creative excellence to create their own totally and utterly confused world – where of course everything comes good when you visit Confused. I’d go as far to suggest the business should truly embrace confusion throughout the brand, and this could manifest itself through a whole range of quirky and intelligently confused executions in all areas of the business.

This would truly bring the concept of Confused to life for both its employees and potential customers, and on that basis engaging with some of the best creative minds in the industry would be very beneficial for Confused.

Creating a business that intelligently makes confusion an attribute could very well result in the creation of the most dynamic, fun, interesting and engaging of all the comparison sites. Basically for Confused its time to get radical.

Finally of the four its Money Supermarket.com, and I’ve little to say about them to be honest, yes I’ve seen their adverts and also the Travel Supermarket ads which has sort of confused me as to what they are all about. With Money Supermarket, they are using a comedian, Omid Djalili (who in his own right is a great performer), and some of the ads are quite funny others less so, but they just haven’t managed to endear me to their brand.

I know you have to be careful when using comedy in ads and to get it right can be tricky and in this instance I just feel they aren’t getting it right and I’m left with a very weak impression of Money Supermarket.com.

It could well be that they are in a similar position as Confused and are being eclipsed by the campaigns of Compare the Market and Go Compare. Maybe they need to go back to the creative drawing board and truly tell themselves that if the campaign proposals don’t instantly come across as being outstanding then don’t even commission them.

One thing is certain, over the next couple of years it will be fascinating to see how the comparison sites develop, how they start to make effective use of social media and how their brands develop, and ultimately which one goes on to sustain a market leading position.

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