Magazine article ADWEEK

Data Arms Race Pits Brands vs. Agencies: Progressive Sells Insurance and Now Thinks It Can Manage Data Just as Well

Magazine article ADWEEK

Data Arms Race Pits Brands vs. Agencies: Progressive Sells Insurance and Now Thinks It Can Manage Data Just as Well

Article excerpt

Progressive is in a digital insurance war, and its ad-buying strategy is its secret weapon.

The insurance company has invested in systems on its own, bypassing agencies and working directly with ad tech firm Turn for programmatic buying and more recently for data management and measurement tools.

Advertising insurance is a high-stakes game online, and finding the right consumer is all about getting the best data to serve highly targeted ads. Progressive won't discuss much of its tactics, protecting them like classified information.

"We're buying display media all over digital channels across device, desktop, mobile and tablets," said Chris Scott, Progressive's head of emerging media. "The things we are excited about are the power of bringing data to the equation and how that adds to our campaigns."

Progressive is not alone. A number of brands are contemplating the idea of ramping up in-house tech, which media players are trying to dissuade.

Other brands have already invested in their own programmatic platforms, including Geico, The Gap, Netflix and AT&T, ad tech execs said.

Jared Belsky, president of 360i, has seen a handful of brand clients try to jump headfirst into programmatic buying. "A lot of people are under pressure to strike technology deals," Belsky said. "It's pervasive."

With the rise of auction-based online ad exchanges, brands' first inclination was to invest in programmatic teams and technology. Now, like Progressive, they are licensing directly with data management platforms such as Turn and BlueKai as well as attribution players like Visual IQ. …

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