How AI will shape the future of insurance

Efma feature

21 December 2016

Ahead of her presentation at Efma’s upcoming Insurance Summit, Monika Schulze, global head of marketing at Zurich Insurance, tells us why artificial intelligence will reshape the industry for the better.


What will be the main focus of your presentation at Efma’s upcoming Insurance Summit?

My presentation will focus on applying artificial intelligence (AI) to insurance for greater customer centricity. I’ll also speak about embracing the shift from a product-focus to client solutions in insurance, how machine learning will enable a more seamless customer experience for insurance customers and ask whether machines will replace humans or if they will complement the work we are doing.

What are the key innovations that your company is working on at the moment?

Customer experience is one of the key topics we are discussing right now. Customer research, and the process of listening to the voice of our customers can help improve marketing, product development and sales in general. In order to truly satisfy our customers, we have to know what they want and need from us, what they're saying about us, and how they feel about our brand.

Listening is a skill like any other, and learning a new language is never easy – especially when that language is always evolving. Speaking the same language as our customers requires constant study and interaction. What do they want? What do they wish they had?

Online tools have made it easier than ever to listen to customers. Historically, we used to do a few surveys a year. Today, we can do online research and customer listening on a daily basis, giving us much better access to individual insights in a way that is more cost-effective and more actionable.

Listening to customers and understanding and speaking their language provides us with the direction for success, directly from the people who really matter.

Tell us about your marketing strategies

Content is one of the hottest topics in marketing at the moment, but it still suffers from the lack of best practice and expertise in the world of marketing. Therefore, brands need smarter strategies to make it relevant and successful. Partnering with well-established quality content publishers is one route to go. Zurich Insurance is one example, as we established a media partnership with Bloomberg, the Financial Times and Linkedin. At the same time, we are working closely working with The World Economic Forum, The Atlantic Council and The University of Oxford to create high quality content especially for B2B audiences. Within two years these partnerships have resulted in a 44% higher reach and 50% reduced cost.

Our investment in programmatic buying is also rising rapidly. Programmatic marketing refers to using technology to automate the process of buying and selling online advertisements. The key benefit for brands is refining their targeting of consumers, and achieving better results from their online ad spend. The most revolutionary aspect of programmatic buying is that it allows an advertiser to serve one specific ad to one single consumer in one single context. Marketers can precisely determine which consumer gets to see which ad, and when. It gives a huge advantage over traditional segment-based buying, where advertisers can only offer one generic ad to a large and diverse segment of consumers.

What do you believe the insurer of the future will look like?

The following techniques will influence the world of insurance:

Neuro marketing: Market research is often focused on targeting the rational, and conscious mind and not exploring the consumer’s subconscious. Neuromarketing is applying the principles of neuroscience to market research. Developments in neuroscience over the past two decades have transformed our understanding of the brain and how it works. Therefore, marketers and researchers have started to think about how it could be used in order to improve their research in brand marketing. Many believe that neuroscience techniques offer an objective view of what consumers actually think without resorting to an interviewer or a questionnaire that might lead to biased results.

With the digital world we have now entered a new phase, where brands, agencies and content owners can be provided with insights about their messages and campaigns by leveraging real-time data that’s provided by neuromarketing techniques.

AI in marketing: There’s been exponential growth in the exploration of artificial intelligence and its potential to alter all aspects of our lives. A lot of companies are already using advanced algorithms to predict the best time to reach you, on what device, and tailor email messages based on your online behaviour. Here are some examples:

Amazon has released one of the most effective voice-activated personal assistants in the media space, and Facebook is developing chat-bots in their instant messaging platform so brands can converse with consumers. Deep learning is also part of Facebook's efforts to improve filters on the posts and ads you see. Google uses RankBrain - a machine learning technology - to analyze spoken or written search queries and is able to process them into search results that are most likely to be what you're looking for.

AI is used to write SEO optimised headlines like “You’ll never believe these 10 facts about..”, and many marketers use chatbots that are able to interact with humans to answer routine questions and assist with purchases. A lot more will come and I think we have to get used to the fact that marketing without AI will not be successful in the future.

One example of AI’s potential right now comes from a recent implementation at our partner McCann Japan. McCann hired a robot as creative director. The robot attended the Tokyo office’s new employee welcoming ceremony in April 2016, along with other recent college grads who have also joined the team. In June, the AI creative director has released its first work in competition with a human director in the battle for creative supremacy.

Both creative directors were asked to develop a video for a Japanese client. The robot was able to draw from a database of tagged and analysed TV commercials from the past ten years of winners in Japan and it also had the ability to learn from its previous campaigns. The campaign ran online from June to August and the Japanese public was asked to vote for the ad they preferred (without knowing which ad was created by the robot and which one by a human). The race was pretty close: the human won 54%-46%. Pretty amazing, don´t you think?

Meet Monika Schulze. Secure your place at the Insurance Summit in London on 27-28 April 2017.

Submit your innovations for the Efma Accenture Distribution & Marketing Innovation 2017 on the portal!


Keywords : Robotics/AI , Customer experience , Technology

Geography : International