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Life insurance marketers may be having a harder time getting consumers’ attention in big U.S. cities this year.

Analysts at iQuanti, a Jersey City, New Jersey-based market research and media campaign management firm, have included figures hinting at that possibility in a new analysis of Google local search volume data.

Web users throughout the United States were about 1% more likely to be searching for live-human life insurance advice this past March than they were in March 2017, according to an iQuanti “switchover moment” chart based on Google search data.

For New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, life insurance switchover moment search activity was down 18%, iQuanti found.

For the first quarter as a whole, national life insurance switchover moment activity is down about 3%. Life switchover activity in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago is down about 43%.

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The iQuanti analysts prepared the Google search data analysis at the request of  ThinkAdvisor Life/Health.

Google lets a user limit a search to results for the user’s own community. A user in Chicago, for example, can look for insurance agents based only in Chicago.

Managers at iQuanti contend that a big increase in local search activity for live-human advisors shows that a user is probably in a “switchover moment,” or a period in which the user prefers human interaction in the purchasing process.

Pulling consumers who are in a switchover moment over to an insurer’s agents or call center reps is a good way to increase the odds of winning those consumers’ business, the iQuanti managers say.

The firm has come up with a method for using its own list of search terms and Google search data to chart life insurance switchover moment trends, both at the national level and in local markets.

The big drop in life switchover activity for New York, Los Angeles and Chicago could be due in part to changes in the way Google manages its local search tool, or to changes in the way Google tracks and collects local search data.

But the drop could reflect changes in life insurance marketing programs, such as changes in spending on local or regional television, print, outdoor or digital advertising campaigns.

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