State Farm: How State Farm Used Watson to Keep People Safe During Hurricane Season


Campaign Summary

With a tumultuous 2020 hurricane season predicted in the Atlantic, State Farm came together with IBM Watson to reach consumers in one-to-one conversations on The Weather Channel app and and deliver personalized safety and preparedness tips to help them stay safe.



As the largest property and casualty insurer in the United States, State Farm's mission is to help people manage the risks of everyday life, recover from the unexpected, and realize their dreams.

In late January of 2020, just weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic set in, State Farm brought back its iconic tagline, "Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there." Little did it know how important that phrase would be in the turbulent year to come.

On top of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season was predicted to be especially volatile.

With this in mind, State Farm came to IBM Watson Advertising looking to reach and engage consumers in one-to-one conversations on The Weather Channel app and and deliver personalized safety and preparedness tips to help them stay safe during hurricane season.

Target Audience:

The campaign's target audience was consumers on The Weather Channel app and

Creative Strategy:

In 2016, IBM Watson Advertising launched IBM Watson Advertising Conversations, an industry-first interactive advertising solution that used artificial intelligence (AI) to deliver hyper-personalization at scale, along with actionable insights.

Since launch, Conversations has been leveraged across a number of industries, including automotive, retail, consumer healthcare, consumer packaged goods, and entertainment. Interactive sessions for Conversations, on average, exceed Google Rich Media interaction time spent benchmarks by up to six times, helping brands develop deeper, more meaningful relationships with consumers. The more consumers interact with Conversations, the more insights a brand can discover and apply to its future marketing and business strategies.


State Farm ran its first IBM Watson Advertising Conversations campaign on The Weather Channel digital properties in 2018 to provide relevant storm preparation content to affected consumers. With the success of its previous campaigns, State Farm returned to IBM Watson Advertising for additional Conversations campaigns, leveraging the insights it learned to reach and engage consumers more effectively during the 2020 hurricane season and provide personalized recommendations to help them stay safe and informed.


Overall Campaign Execution:

State Farm leveraged IBM Watson Advertising Conversations. With extensive training on State Farm's body of knowledge, including safety and preparedness information and FAQs, Conversations served up personalized safety tips and recommendations to each user on The Weather Channel app and The recommendations were adjacent to native safety and preparedness content, helping people stay safe and prepared during hurricane season.

In addition, weather targeting was applied to reach consumers most likely to be experiencing seasonal firsts or inclement weather.

Mobile Execution:

State Farm's IBM Watson Advertising Conversations campaign ran across The Weather Channel digital properties, from desktop and mobile to a dynamic home screen placement on The Weather Channel app, delivering tips to consumers that helped them prepare before a storm and kept them safe during a severe weather event.

First, Watson was trained on State Farm's corpus of information, including the brand's website, FAQs, and relevant marketing materials. Then, State Farm worked with IBM Watson Advertising to develop custom banner creatives and a conversation experience.

Using natural language processing, Watson invited and engaged users via input fields and chat buttons on both the front screen of the ad and within the conversation experience and delivered personalized responses.

Once a user engaged with the ad, a dialogue box encouraged self-exploration of safety-related content and tips to help consumers better plan in the face of inclement weather. With easy, quick-pick topic buttons, users could expand the chat experience or enter in a free-form question. During challenging times for consumers facing severe weather, Conversations allowed users to easily find advice for safety preparedness to protect themselves and their property.

Business Impact (including context, evaluation, and market impact)

With IBM Watson Advertising Conversations, State Farm increased awareness and consideration and saw meaningful time spent with consumers. Other impressive results of the campaign included the following:

  • 5.4 percent lift in brand preference among those exposed to the campaign
  • 13 percent lift in unaided brand awareness after seeing severe weather creative
  • 4.5 percent lift in brand perception of "provides coverage which will protect me"
  • An average time spent of 1 minute and 15 seconds, a 389 percent improvement against the Google Rich Media benchmark of 19.27 seconds.

With Conversations, State Farm reached consumers with personalized experiences that showcased State Farm's brand empathy and voice, deepening consumer engagement, confidence, and loyalty.

Categories: | Industries: | Objectives: Brand Experience, Contextual/Native Advertising, Innovation, Machine Learning and AI | Awards: NA Bronze Winner, NA Finalist