The gloves are off - Compare the Market v iSelect - Showtime Digital

The gloves are off - Compare the Market v iSelect

08 March 2016 Read 3494 times

The family sits around the TV and during the commercials the Meerkats (Aleksandr and Sergei) come on. They’re funny and they’re cute. The Ad finishes and your little one says, ‘They’re funny daddy...what’s a Meerkat’?

‘I don’t know, lets Google it’.

He searches Google...‘It says it’s a Mongoose’.

‘What’s a Mongoose daddy’?

‘I’m not sure’.

‘Can a Mongoose fly’?

Yes you get the idea; the Australian audience has never quite understood the Meerkats. They endeavoured to use a carbon copy approach which worked very well in the UK but it didn’t seem to gel with the Australian market. Over the years they’ve spent a lot of money on TVC’s making us feel comfortable about the antics of Aleksandr and Sergei. So who is Compare the Market (CTM)?

It’s a brand which started back in 2006 and does supremely well in the UK but since its September 2012 launch in Australia it appears to have struggled to gain any real traction with the locals.

Today Compare the Market has had a quite significant changing of the guard. Matt McCann, previous CEO of iSelect and now CEO of Compare the Market, asked five of his iSelect team to relocate from Melbourne to Brisbane in 2015 to join the Meerkats. So it’s been interesting to see the progression and the changes in marketing both over TVC and on the website over the last 6 months.

A news story came out on 29th Feb 2016 saying the Meerkat was in a fight with iSelect. And this sparked my interest in going back over the Meerkat’s journey from a website perspective.

We’re going to analyse the website changes we saw in May 2014, October 2014, March 2015 and March 2016 (present day).

May 2014

Compare the Market website May 2014


Here’s a screenshot of the CTM car insurance page back in May 2014. I’m not going to go too much into this only to say I was always confused about the Meerkat/Market messages. In retrospect the marketing team may rue their decision to enter the Australian marketplace and use the Meerkat/Market messages at the same time.

The UK market already had a history with the meerkats and would have understood its message but Australia was thrown into the deep end with it. We can see this same messaging continuing well into 2014.


October 2014

Compare the Market website October 2014

Compare the Market website October 2014

Compare the Market website October 2014


Above are the various pages we took snapshots of in October 2014. They have a continuing Meerkat theme with the hero images being static and not a slider. I always thought their hero images were almost apologetic with their thin band across the page. This may be evidence of the worrying signs of low convertibility. Notice how they have moved the insurers even further up the page and include more white space. This all builds trust for the consumer.

Note how the phone number has gone from the page. That’s interesting considering it’s a known fact a call centre will get a consumer over the line a lot more readily than an online process. If convertibility was low wouldn’t you encourage people to use the phone? Did they try to do too much too soon? It’s not an accident there is no phone number so I’m going to continue to scratch my head on this one.

I’m a bit critical of the headline; it’s just plain lazy, ‘Are you looking for...’? This is a pet hate of mine and entirely acceptable for a local electrician with no marketing degree. ‘Of course I’m looking for a good car insurance deal, that’s why I Googled it’ I hear the consumer saying. It’s patronising and a great way to turn people off.

Notice how they place the word ‘NOT’ in capitals just above the Call to Action (CTA) button. Why place a negative in your headline, specifically just above the CTA button. It places the consumer in doubt at the very least. Word association is so powerful, people may subconsciously read ‘NOT COMPARE NOW’. Consumers may not be able to put their finger on why but they don’t trust you anymore.

They also have a link to just above the CTA button. This is like saying, ‘before we compare insurances right now let us tell you how awesome we are on another website we own over there’.


March 2015

Compare the Market website March 2015


This is the only image I have as Matt McCann would have taken over the reins at CTM. We can see the previous headline has been totally replaced with a much more personalised headline stating, ‘We can help you find life insurance to suit your unique situation’. It’s not going to set the world on fire but it’s a move in the right direction. They have brought in the phone number just below the CTA button which is a good move but nothing else has changed on the page.

A change like this means they’ve either nailed it and want to get that last 2-3% out of the page or it’s the last ditch attempt before the whole strategy goes back to the drawing board. History informs us it was the latter.


March 2016

Compare the Market website March 2016


So here we are in the present day, March 2016. I do need to premise the following by saying I don’t watch Free to Air or commercial TV and haven’t for a number of years so I don’t have a perspective on any TVC’s either CTM or iSelect are doing. My focus here is on the cash register, the website and more specifically if CTM is really gunning for iSelect and using their previous knowledge from building the iSelect platform.

Insurance companies have 2-3 preferred points of entry for consumers in the personal lines sector, Health, Life or Car insurance. So they’ll work on these three categories first. As of yet the backend hasn’t been changed on the above page and we can identify this by clicking the CTA button to see they still use the Make, Model, Year fields, the same fields used back in 2014. Logic says they need the public to accept the change in brand messaging first before anything else happens so for now it’s only front end work being completed. Once this box has been ticked consumers will more readily flow through the rest of the website and they’ll retrieve some healthy data.

The most interesting point is the new team at CTM are moving away from the Meerkat and presenting a more localised face as seen above. I’ve done a bit of a ring around and it all seems a little confusing to most. On some pages, for example the car insurance page, there’s no reference whatsoever to the Meerkat while on others, such as the health insurance page, the meerkat is there.


Health Insurance

Compare the Market Health Insurance

iSelect Health Insurance


Let’s directly compare the changes we see at CTM on the health insurance page. In the red corner with the orange trunks we have Jason Geary and in the blue corner with the purple trunks we I’m confused. Is it Aleksandr or the guy with the high hair who’s putting on the gloves?


iSelect Health Insurance Form

Compare the Market Health Insurance Form


Above are the current contact forms taken from the health insurance pages of both websites? If we changed the colours you wouldn’t be able to identify which represented which company. But there is one small detail which highlights the Compare the Market contact form over the iSelect form. The CTM team thought it wise to exclude the word ‘select’ in the first field.

In a previous post on iSelect we discovered their online strategy revolves around enabling consumers to enter the least amount of detail on order to move them more readily through the site. This is a great strategy to gain more data quickly and we can see the CTM team use the same tactic on the health insurance page above. If they do need to fall back on the call centre they’ve wisely incorporated a new 13 xxxx number instead of the old 1800 xxx xxx number.

We’ll witness more of this top down approach over the coming 12 months.

But CTM is playing catch up, they have a confusing TVC message to overcome or a changing of the guard plus they need to increase market share at the same time. So there’s an element of confusion for the consumer which drops the level of trust.

On the positive side they have publically said they will disclose margins on their products, a first for the industry and a boon for consumers and transparency?

In the red corner iSelect has shunned the same decision on margin disclosure and it will remain to see if iSelect continues with the comical antics of Jason Geary. This is getting exciting.

Stay tuned for the next thrilling instalment of Compare the Market v iSelect.


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Steve Palmer

Steve Palmer is the Joint Founder and CEO of Showtime Digital. Steve has been in B2B sales since 1997 but influencing people and behavioural science has been a long-term passion.

The magic he brings to his clients is in knowing how to engage their audience. His goal is to help businesses understand the deeper reasons of why consumers convert online with them.