Haven Life Head of Acquisition’s Philosophy on TV? It Powers Growth

Learn how a life insurance provider serving primarily millennials took its TV media strategy and planning in-house with Simulmedia’s Transparent TVTM.

Talking to Matt Myers, head of customer acquisition at Haven Life, an online life insurance innovator, one can’t help but be reminded of the butterfly effect. Popularized by Ray Bradbury in his short story, A Sound of Thunder, it’s the notion that subtle, almost imperceptible events can make a big impact on the future.

For Haven Life, that butterfly effect moment traces back to a conversation Myers had with his mother when he was an undergraduate at Temple University. In response to learning that her son had chosen philosophy as his major, she asked, “So how are you going to make money?”

If she hadn’t asked that question, Myers might have taken a very different career path. But she did ask, and lacking a satisfactory answer, Myers changed his major to business administration with a focus in marketing.

Haven Life is fortunate that he did. That’s because he is helping the company achieve a goal that challenges so many brands today: generating growth from the elusive Millennial parent.

We worked with our data science team to develop insights that would help in targeting and utilized Simulmedia’s Transparent TV self-service platform for the actual planning.

Haven Life exists to serve this cohort, which reportedly is having 9,000 children per day. According to the startup’s website, when co-founder Yaron Ben-Zvi and his wife were expecting their first child, they recognized the need for term life insurance, but they couldn’t find a provider that enabled them to complete the transaction online, the way digital natives expect to be able to acquire just about everything. The alternatives required paperwork and weeks of time. In other words, it was an industry ripe for disruption.

Matt Myers, Head of Customer Acquisition at Haven Life

Enter Haven Life. The online life insurance agency has pioneered selling medically-underwritten term life insurance online. It’s also backed and wholly owned by MassMutual, giving it access to data and resources most direct-to-consumer (D2C) companies would love to have.

While starting fresh has its advantages, building a business in this market has had its challenges. “We’ve had to start from scratch with everything we do, including acquiring customers,” Myers said. “There were no best practices. We had to rethink a market that has been ‘sold’ not ‘bought.’”

Like so many D2Cs, Haven Life uses data and data science to help inform their marketing decisions. This includes deciding which channels to dial up or down and building custom audiences. Fortunately, this structure allows them to move faster than most of their rivals, enabling a relatively quick approach to testing, learning and scaling.

We’re constantly evaluating our TV options looking for ways to be scrappy and compete with the big boys in the space without the nine-figure budgets others have.

And like so many D2C companies, growth is Haven Life’s top objective. Today, Myers utilizes TV advertising, social and affiliate marketing to scale, but it took time to figure out the right combination of channels and spend. He experimented with over-the-top (OTT) TV advertising but found that relying on OTT alone didn’t reach enough potential customers, even younger digital natives and cord cutters. Plus, campaigns struggled with wasted frequency.

As they looked for other ways to scale, they knew two things: whatever they did had to leverage their customer data, and it would have to empower them to take on rivals with much deeper pockets. Both considerations drew them to Simulmedia and its Transparent TV product.

Haven Life sticker on laptop

“A year ago, we were trying to figure out how we could leverage TV to fuel growth,” Myers said. “We worked with our data science team to develop insights that would help in targeting and utilized Simulmedia’s Transparent TV self-service platform for the actual planning. We utilize TVSquared and some internal tools for attribution and measurement. We like to keep things in-house as much as possible.” As a result, Myers now has the capability to do with TV many of the things advertisers expect from search and social.

While he wouldn’t divulge specific campaign outcomes, he was adamant that TV drove measurable and significant results. “When we turn on TV, we see huge jumps in our daily numbers at all stages of the funnel, and it’s attributable,” Myers said.

Going forward, Myers plans to continue wearing the challenger brand status proudly. “We’re constantly evaluating our TV options looking for ways to be scrappy and compete with the big boys in the space without the nine-figure budgets others have,” he said. “We’re still evaluating precisely what that means for 2019, but I think that means continuing to leverage data and analytics to find the needles in the haystacks out there instead of buying the whole haystack.”

When we turn on TV, we see huge jumps in our daily numbers at all stages of the funnel, and it’s attributable.

Haven Life Head of Customer Acquisition, Matt Myers, with Tyler Masterman, Business Analyst

Reflecting on his career and learning about TV, he has a couple of tips to offer. First, leverage your first party data to find the areas where you can be competitive and cost-effective and apply that to your media buy.

And regardless of a student’s major, he recommends getting practical experience. “My advice is to go out, get an internship, go hands-on, and work at a startup where you can get ownership of the products,” he said.

Hard to argue with that philosophy.


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