Answer Financial launches a Marketplace where auto insurance companies can target ads by driving scores

The Answer Marketplace, says its parent, is the first of its kind.

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Driving You may not realize it, but your mobile phone — a quiet passenger in your car — can be watching how you drive. That’s the idea behind Answer Marketplace, announced today by insurance tech firm Answer Financial. Founded in 1997, the Encino, California-based firm describes the Marketplace as the first telematics-based ad network, in this case for auto insurance. It utilizes anonymized data relayed from permission-based auto-related apps like family location app Life360, with which Answer has just announced a partnership, and Streetwise, an app that rewards good driving. Telematics is the long-distance transmission of computer-generated data, and, in this case, it refers to info about your driving behavior conveyed through those apps, such as times of day, location, hard braking, acceleration and speed. Chief Marketing Officer Darren Howard told me his company is also working on mapping speed limits to roads, so that the Marketplace can tell if a driver is speeding. Answer Financial offers an online marketplace for home and car insurance quotes from nearly three dozen carriers, and it provides the insurance-searching engine underneath the marketplace for Lending Tree and others. The driving data is conveyed via an software development kit (SDK) provided by data science and analytics firm Arity, which applies the info to a model developed around its database of 30 billion miles of driving data, and then generates a score for each anonymous driver. Both Arity and Answer Financial are owned by Allstate. The scores are used to populate four segments of users. Auto insurance advertisers come to the Marketplace to place cost-per-click bids for in-app ads, targeted to one or more of those four segments of driving behaviors, as well as by location if desired. Although they know the broad driver types represented by the segments, the advertisers do not have access to the data.
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A user might see an ad, for instance, in the Life360 app for a 20 percent discount for good drivers, because she has been placed in a targeted segment for drivers with high scores. A click on the ad takes the user directly to the advertiser’s site or call center. The app publisher can also get access to the segments and provide features based on them, such as tutorials for better driving or reward points for good drivers. Howard said that, to his knowledge, no one else is “doing an ad network based on people’s driving behaviors.” Through this kind of targeting, he said, insurance companies can “identify risk up front.” While the data is currently transmitted from opt-in mobile apps, he added that Answer is “open to working with OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] to collect data” directly from smart cars, assuming drivers gave permission.

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About the author

Barry Levine
Barry Levine covers marketing technology for Third Door Media. Previously, he covered this space as a Senior Writer for VentureBeat, and he has written about these and other tech subjects for such publications as CMSWire and NewsFactor. He founded and led the web site/unit at PBS station Thirteen/WNET; worked as an online Senior Producer/writer for Viacom; created a successful interactive game, PLAY IT BY EAR: The First CD Game; founded and led an independent film showcase, CENTER SCREEN, based at Harvard and M.I.T.; and served over five years as a consultant to the M.I.T. Media Lab. You can find him at LinkedIn, and on Twitter at xBarryLevine.

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