Business Insider Edition

Discovery Life runs nearly a million Facebook ads a month – and other things we’ve learnt in its fight with Liberty

Phillip de Wet , Business Insider SA
 Aug 05, 2019, 04:16 PM

Discovery Life
  • The Discover Group is taking competitor Liberty to court – and revealing unprecedented detail of its operation in the process.
  • In the last three years Discovery Life has bought 8.161 million Google Ad placements, plus just about a million ads a month across Facebook and Instagram.
  • Those and other marketing efforts buy it around 5,000 online requests for quotations, its court papers show.
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The Discovery Group’s efforts to interdict competitor Liberty from using Vitality status in its calculations has revealed just how much marketing has gone into securing its nearly half a million currently active customers.

Three Discovery companies have asked the high court in Johannesburg to stop the Liberty Group from taking into account their shared customers’ Discovery Vitality status when it calculates a cashback offer on life insurance.

Though it's early stages, that legal challenge has already featured allegations by Liberty that Discovery is breaking the law and stifling competition, in its counter to Discovery claims that Liberty is acting unlawfully and unethically.

See also: Discovery Vitality stopped it giving away R500,000 in free Ster-Kinekor movie tickets per month, Liberty says – and Virgin Active was bullied too

Discovery’s initial court filing provides unprecedented insight into aspects of its life insurance business, most notably the scale of its advertising efforts.

Such efforts are detailed in an affidavit by Hylton Kallner, in an attempt to show how much money and effort Discovery has put into marketing Discovery Vitality and Discovery Life. 

Discovery Life invests significantly in trying to drive online traffic to its website, Kallner’s submission shows. In the three years up to the end of May, his data shows, Discovery Life’s placement of Google Ads saw it record 8.161 million advertising impressions.

Over roughly the same period the company recorded 34.7 million advertising impressions across Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram, at an average not much shy of one million per month.

See also: Discovery gets people to sign up for life insurance using free movie tickets, Liberty says – and that’s not legal

That, plus large television campaigns and other efforts, saw Discovery Life spend R377 million on marketing in the last three years, Kallner says.

By contrast, the far larger and more prominent Discovery Vitality spent only R115 million over the same three-year period according to Kallner.

Discovery says its marketing – and the use of Vitality to offer healthier people lower premiums on their life insurance – has made it a leader in the market, currently holding 470,000 individual life policies.

But it is evident from Kallner’s numbers that bringing in new customers is not easy. In the 12 months to the end of May, the CEO discloses, Discovery Life’s website recorded 58,133 completed online quotations, at an average of a little under 5,000 per month.

Kallner does not say how many of those online quotations eventually turn into paying life policy customers.

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