Google Compare closing its doors creates an enormous opportunity for independent agents.
The story was first broke by the Insurance Journal last Monday night.
As an industry, we’re well-positioned to take advantage of the marketplace void.
The question becomes, what is the best method for capitalizing on this opportunity?
To answer this question, TrustedChoice.com CEO, Chip Bacciocco and VP of Marketing, Ryan Hanley, interviewed 7 insurance industry insiders about the impact Google Compare closing will have in the insurance industry.
- Full Replay – Insurance Industry Insiders Break Down Google Compare Closing [1:22:00]
- Initial reactions by Ryan Hanley immediately following announcement. [22:00]
We’ve also broken out each panelists portion of the event into individual videos:
- Craig Welsh – Why Google Compare was such a compelling opportunity for Independent Agents. [9:26]
- Andrew Rose – Why Google Compare will not be back. [14:03]
- Karen Bailo – How can independent agents improve customer experience? [10:17]
- Mike McBride – How should independent agents respond to Google Compare closing? [8:28]
- Laird Rixford – What did Google Compare do right? [10:57]
- Matt Nickerson – Why now is the time for independent insurance agents to lean in. [9:17]
- Bob Rusbuldt – Why the future is bright for young agents. [10:33]
Insurance Industry Insiders Break Down Google Compare Closing
Here is the complete replay of the Google Compare closing webinar:
Additional actions to take following the webinar:
- Get notifications about future Agency Nation events.
- Learn more about Agency Nation University.
- Learn more about the TrustedChoice.com Advantage Subscription
Craig Welsh – Group Distribution Leader, Westfield Insurance Group
Here are the questions we asked Craig:
- What about that experience and what Google was trying to do did you find most compelling, meaning what about what Google was doing do you think was particularly interesting or worthwhile.
- What about GC’s exit at this point surprises you?
- Westfield is our sole super-regional company on the panel today (and maybe the oldest company too, dating back to 1840’s) how does that shape your view of GC’s departure compared to say Progressive or Safeco (coming later in today’s discussion)?
- As you know, not all agents are the same. How do you see different agents reacting differently to this news?
Connect with Craig Welsh:
Andrew Rose – CEO, Compare.com
Here are the questions we asked Andrew:
- Andrew, perhaps more than anyone else, you have unique insights into the challenges that Google Compare faced over the past 2+ years. In your opinion, which of those challenges did Google Compare struggle most with. How did that affect their business?
- On the flip side, where did you see them gain traction?
- Compare.com has been operating its own comparative rating business in the US now for over two years. Can you talk about how that’s going and what lessons you have learned about consumer behavior online in that time.
- Some people have talked about Google Compare coming back. Do you see that as a real possibility? If so when and with what changes?
Connect with Andrew Rose:
Karen Bailo – National Agency Distribution Leader, Progressive Insurance
- Karen, Progressive is a recognized leader in terms of consumer experience innovation. Regardless of Google’s departure, what opportunities do you see in terms of improving online consumer shopping experiences?
- The strengths of the independent agent system are choice, expertise and advocacy. Are there customers for whom these value propositions can be successfully communicated online? What opportunities for agents do you see there?
- What advice do you have for us? What can Trusted Choice and TrustedChoice.com be working on to help move the IA channel innovation train forward?
Connect with Karen Bailo:
Mike McBride – National Chairman, Trusted Choice Board
- Mike, as the only owner of an independent agency on the panel today, can you give us the agent perspective:
- What was your reaction when you first learned that Google was getting into the insurance business 2 years ago?
- Since then, how has your thinking evolved?
- What reaction do you have now that they are announcing their departure?
- Putting your other hat on, as Chairman of Trusted Choice, the national co-brand for independent agents, do you see an opportunity in this news for IAs?
Connect with Mike McBride:
Laird Rixford – President, ITC
- Laird, you also were in a unique position to be familiar with the everyday challenges that Google Compare has encountered in their journey over the past 2 years. What about that journey stands out to you as you look back today?
- What, if anything, do you think they could have done differently?
- ITC works with both carriers and agencies every day? How have you seen their view of comparative rating change in the past few years?
- In your opinion, what needs to happen for disruptors like Google Compare to see less opportunity in the insurance industry.
Connect with Laird Rixford:
Matt Nickerson – President, Safeco Insurance
- As someone that was pretty knowledgeable of the Google Compare service offering, what did you see as the strengths of their model? What did you see as weaknesses in their model?
- What conclusions do you hope independent agents will draw from Google Compare’s closing? Do you see any risks?
- You are a founding board member of TrustedChoice.com. What do you think industry organizations like TrustedChoice.com and IIABA can do to help ensure that IAs make the most of this unique moment in our evolving history?
Connect with Matt Nickerson:
Bob Rusbuldt – President and CEO, Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America
- What market conditions are creating the atmosphere of venture capital investment in the insurance space?
- How can independent agents get involved and work to together to grow our industry?
- What role do young agents play in recapturing personal lines market share?
Connect with Bob Rusbuldt:
You’ve asked for deeper coursework on insurance marketing. We’ve heard you loud and clear.
In 2016 we’re launching Agency Nation University, an on-demand learning platform for insurance professionals looking to get better at the business of marketing insurance.
We’re still building out the coursework.
Initial Reaction to Google Compare Closing
After the initial announcement of Google Compare closing, (first broke by Insurance Journal on Monday, February 28th), I took to Periscope for a live broadcast discussing some initial reactions to the news.
We wanted to clear up some stories being spread and help insurance professionals wrap their brain about what this announcement meant to the industry.
The email from Google Compare to partners:
From: Google Compare Team
Subject: An Update on Google Compare
Beginning on February 23, 2016, we will start ramping down the Google Compare product, which is currently live in both the US and UK. We plan to terminate the service as of March 23, 2016. As you know, Google Compare (formerly Google Advisor in the U.S.) has been a specialized, standalone service that enables consumers to get quotes from a number of providers for financial products such as car and travel insurance, credit cards and mortgages.
Despite people turning to Google for financial services information, the Google Compare service itself hasn’t driven the success we hoped for. We greatly appreciate your partnership and understand that this decision will be disappointing to some. But after a lot of careful consideration, we’ve decided that focusing more intently on AdWords and future innovations will enable us to provide fresh, comprehensive answers to Google users, and to provide our financial services partners with the best return on investment.
We’re grateful for all the feedback that you have provided over the course of this product’s development, and we are looking forward to partnering with you to achieve greater success in the future.
We will work with you during this transition and beyond. Please reach out to your Google representative if you have any questions and to discuss the next steps.
The Google Compare Team
Here are a few more resources to help you better digest the Google Compare closure:
- Google To Shut Down Google Compare Products In US And UK On March 23
- Google Shuttering Comparison-Shopping Site for Auto Insurance, Credit Cards, Mortgages
- As Google shuts down Google Compare, new doors open
Let’s wrap this discussion up with a quote from Laird Rixford:
“Just being Google does not predicate success,” Rixford said. “They were not the first to try nor will they be the last.”
Rixford said the market for online comparison is fluid and changing, and that “the future market leader is probably not even around yet.”
He added that “U.S. consumers are still enamored with their agents.”
As Matt Nickerson said, “it’s time for the independent insurance agent to lean in.”
Do you have what it takes?
I hope so.
P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for Agency Nation University announcements.