I spent yesterday morning at Google's Industry Press Day, held at the company's new(ish) NYC building where, aside from checking out the office space, I attended presentations by Tim Armstrong, Google's president of advertising & commerce in North America and Jon Kaplan, the company's industry director for financial services.More importantly though, let me tell you that Google's office is populated with many large exercise balls, free food and drink areas and Razor scooters. In fact, outside of many meeting areas there are racks build specifically for scooter parking. That last tidbit I particularly appreciated -- New York's lack of on-street scooter parking has grinded my gears ever since the parking authority towed my Razor Scuttle Bug from a fire zone outside a Starbucks on 6th Ave. (I was just running in for a second to pick up a latte!).
As for the presentations, both were mostly focused on marketing and advertising concepts but there was still very applicable takeaway for IT, particularly in Kaplan's financial services breakout session.
Kaplan pointed to some March 2007 Nielsen NetRating numbers that showed nearly 63-percent of all financial services-related Web searches are made via Google, a number that is 7-percent larger than Google's overall search engine share.
Also, internal Google data showed that insurance companies, on average, spent $2 million more in the first quarter of 2007 than in the same quarter of 2006 (and they're seeing substantial growth in clicks over that same time period).
While all that may be more useful to your advertising and marketing partners, it does provide further evidence that there are opportunities to expand an insurer's brand awareness and reach new customers in unique and sometimes extremely successful ways.
TurboTax, for instance, made a bold move last tax season when it leveraged YouTube (a Google property, if you've been living under a rock) in its Tax Rap marketing project. The tax preparation software company asked users to submit tax-themed rap videos and offered a $25,000 grand prize to the best entry.
Seeing as how Vanilla Ice -- who 16 years ago was a one hit wonder rapper and 10 years ago was a crazy washed-up rapper -- acted as its pitchman, the contest could have turned out to be an exceedingly brilliant marketing ploy or extremely embarrassing hit to TurboTax's reputation. When YouTube's natives, skeptical of any and all things corporate, believe an initiative is contrived or -- even worse -- utterly and completely lame, they can turn on a company very quickly.
The TurboTax initiative, however, generated a mostly positive response. Kaplan says that 370 conetst entries were submitted and 40 million ad impressions were generated for TurboTax. 700 blogs and newspapers mentioned the contest.
That's some priceless buzz generated by leveraging a Web 2.0 technology -- an effort that would likely involve some IT input and involvement with a marketing plan. As insurers talk more and more about multi-channel distribution and reaching customers through different mediums, perhaps we will see a carrier take a similar chance with a YouTube project. Considering the site sees 51 million unique US visitors every month, there are certainly reasons to take the plunge.