Check Out This Improbably Pretty Data Visualization of TV Ad-Airing Strategies

Is There Some Method to the Insurance-Ad Madness? Bluefin Labs Says Yes

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You, dear TV viewer, already know that you're being completely inundated with insurance commercials. Just how inundated? We wanted to find out, so we worked with our editorial partner Bluefin Labs, the Cambridge-Mass.-based social-TV analytics company, which has endless banks of computers tracking airings of commercials for all manner of different national brands.

For today's chart, Bluefin took a look at two insurance conglomerates, State Farm and Nationwide, to try to figure out the strategy behind how often, and in what patterns, their ubiquitous spots air. Scroll down below the graphic for some context and notes.

  • The two charts show all State Farm and Nationwide commercial airings, as tracked by Bluefin Labs, from Jan. 1 to June 3.
  • State Farm commercials aired nearly twice as many times as Nationwide commercials (24,108 vs. 12,610). State Farm also had more individual spots in rotation than Nationwide (18 vs. 11).
  • State Farm had two primary TV campaigns running simultaneously: The first, "State of …," had 12 different creative executions (e.g. "State of Imitation" featuring quarterback Aaron Rodgers) variously focused on savings, convenience, customer service, etc. The second campaign, "Magic Jingle," had five different executions that showed State Farm customers saying "Like a good neighbor State Farm is there," causing their insurance agent to appear out of nowhere and come to their rescue. "State of …" variations dominated, accounting for 73% of all State Farm commercial airings.
  • During the same time period, Nationwide also had two primary TV campaigns running: The first, "Vanishing Deductible," had five different variations, four of which featured The World's Greatest Spokesperson In The World, and one of which featured Danica Patrick and Dale Earnhardt. The second campaign, "Bundle & Save 25%," had two variations -- one with The World's Greatest Spokesperson In The World and the other with Dale Earnhardt. "Vanishing Deductible" spots dominated, accounting for 68% of all Nationwide commercial airings.
  • All that sounds simple enough, but at the same time sort of hard to grasp until you look at the chart graphics, at which point the differences between their strategies comes into stark relief. The bottom line: "State Farm has several creatives in rotation daily whereas Nationwide typically focuses on two primary creatives at a time," says Bluefin's Mike Guigli. "Is State Farm pushing too many messages onto the consumer at once or is State Farm leveraging their portfolio of creatives to target multiple TV audiences? The reverse can be asked of Nationwide." Bluefin's aim in doing this sort of big-picture tracking is to correlate specific airings to social-media mentions to gauge how consumers are reacting to not only individual campaigns and spots, but to their frequency and the patterns in which they air. "Synchronizing commercial tracking with brand comments in social media," says Guigli, "can help answer strategic questions and, in turn, influence campaign changes in near real-time."

Stay tuned to AdAge.com for more data from Bluefin Labs. For more about Bluefin, visit its website.

Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" media columnist for Advertising Age. Follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.

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