Obamacare Advertising Neglects Its Key Audience’s Main Medium


At a time when Obamacare desperately needs to sign up 19-to-34-year-olds and a time when this cohort has abandoned legacy media for digital, “[m]obile and video, for instance, have yet to generate significant investment,” Advertising Age reported March 25.

Make it or break it

Of all of America’s demographic cohorts, this group of Millennials is crucial to Obamacare’s financial survival.

“The demographics are clear enough,” says Ad Age. “According to the U.S. Census Bureau, adults aged 19-34 have the highest proportion of uninsured.” And for good reason.

Being young, statistically healthier and less affluent than older Americans, they’ve quite rationally opted to either forgo health insurance or just invest in catastrophic coverage. But in order to do what the insurance industry calls broadening the risk pool, they’ve been required by law to buy overpriced policies with coverages they don’t want or need and higher deductibles than they’re likely to pay, just in order to subsidize older, sicker folks.

If some 34 percent of the so-called Young Invincibles signed up, according to government calculations, the system would be viable. But so far, the over all signup percentage is in the low twenties. In California, the most populous state, it’s down to 16 percent.

Your tax dollars at waste

To recruit this crucial audience segment, Obamacare is pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into a medium its prime prospects have abandoned.

Of the estimated $500 million being spent on Obamacare advertising this year, “TV ad spending dwarfs digital….Mobile and video, for instance, have yet to generate significant investment.”

Even though this key demographic is watching less and less television and spending more and more time online. Even though Millennials are three times more likely to stream their TV shows than to watch them on the tube. And even though, as Ad Age puts it, “online is where [their] purchase decisions get made.”

Bending the learning curve upward

Private health insurers have apparently been learning what the federal government hasn’t.

Having focused their sales efforts on employers and providers before Obamacare, they’ve been faster at figuring out how to reach individuals.

Since October, Cigna has been teaming up its television and print advertising with display and search advertising. Wellpoint is reaching younger prospects with more than $100 million budgeted for television, social media and print.

But other insurers are being just as dumb about their media buying as the Obama administration. Between December 1 and February 8 alone, Kaiser Permanente and other companies spent $40 million on television spots, apparently without realizing that they could have put the video files up on YouTube and other digital media at little or no cost.

Especially when you consider how much cheaper digital advertising is – to say nothing of being much moire effective at reaching the key target audience – placing Obamacare advertising there should have been a no-brainer. But then, nobody ever accused big government of having brains and made the accusation stick.


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