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Whats the digital future for finance brands?

Written by Stacey | 02-Dec-2015 12:18:00

Innovation and agility are not necessarily words synonymous with the financial services sector. Or at least this has always been the broad perception in the industry… Our final “Digital Futures†event of 2015 focussed on this sector to challenge the assumption that financial services brands will always be last to the digital party and retail brands can have all the fun when it comes to digital innovation.

The digital innovation challenge for finance marketers

Having spent a significant number of years account managing financial services clients at equimedia, I know all too well how complex compliance processes and FCA guidelines can challenge marketers tasked with getting messages to market quickly and deploying tactical campaigns at speed.

Marketers are under pressure to engage and retain their customers in an increasingly competitive market, and consumers looking for financial products have exactly the same expectations from financial institutions as they do when researching and buying non-finance products online.

Of people aged 18+ who own any financial product: 3% would research a new product, 2% would apply for a new bank account, 2% would apply for a new credit card, and 2% would buy a new insurance product by smartphone.

Mintel “Mobile in Financial services – UK, January 2015â€

Mobile – the impact on the search strategies

Our Google Agency Development Manager, Natalie, joined us for this event so that marketers could hear first-hand how mobile trends were impacting finance brands, and what marketers needed to do to stay ahead.

Image source: Google 2015

Natalie discussed some big milestones for the finance sector, in particular how
Q2 2015 saw smartphone queries make up over 50% of all short-term loan search volume, and for mortgages, searches on mobile overtake those on computers at the weekend!

Increasing CPCs by sector on mobile

Analysing Google’s Q3 2015 industry trends data for 3 different finance categories showed the following fluctuations, when compared with Q3 2014:

  • Credit & Lending – mobile searches +44%, mobile CPC -2.25%
  • Insurance – mobile searches +40%, mobile CPC -8.12%
  • Banking – mobile searches +30%, mobile CPC +185%

So what does this tell us?

  • You need to be visible on mobile

    Regardless of the finance sector you work in, mobile is massively important for your digital strategy for 2016 and beyond. 
  • Optimise to protect your CPC

    Google CPC fluctuations vary massively by sector and are linked to the competitiveness of the auction, amongst many other factors. If you can ensure you have a granular mobile campaign setup to improve the relevance of your ads for the user, and optimise your website for key mobile user journeys, you can minimise the CPC you pay for mobile clicks.

Optimising by device

The tendency in the industry is to look at data from campaigns at channel or device level. This is just something that we have been accustomed to doing, and Natalie made a great point in her presentation around how we need to think about one singular customer experience.

Now anyone who has heard a Google presentation recently would almost certainly have heard of micro-moments; in case you haven’t, here’s a great video to explain:

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There are four key types of query. The point is that all of these queries are done across devices, so optimising by device will only do half the job for you:

  • “I want to know†moments
  • “I want to go†moments
  • “I want to do†moments
  • “I want to buy†moments

If a potential customer is reaching for their phone or grabbing the laptop to answer a question on your brand or product and you’re not visible, you are at risk of losing them to a competitor. This isn’t unique to the device they are searching on – their expectations are the same in terms of the information they want, regardless of device. Therefore our advice to the marketers in the room was to use options in analytics packages so that we can stop measuring sessions, and measure users instead.

In Google Analytics, it’s possible to use advanced segments that measure converters and non-converters, and logged in vs logged out user activity. These tools help marketers move closer to single channel customer behaviour insights that account for multiple device usage.

Innovation “with a small i†– what you should be testing

Our “Digital Futures†programme talks at a high-level in terms of new and upcoming technology and media channels that marketers from all sectors should be aware of. However we find that marketers cite the most valuable take-aways from our events as the optimisation and targeting techniques available today, which are perhaps being overlooked.

Many of these examples were discussed at this latest event, with two in particular getting conversations flowing:

Customer Match

It was great to have Google on hand to explain all about how this tool can best be used in the finance sector. Customer Match allows brands to upload their customers’ email addresses (as long as they have given relevant permissions) into AdWords and then Google can match these to users using signed in Google products and align with the strategy that has been set up (i.e. upweight bids, exclude, deliver special cross sell messages, etc).

It is a powerful move by Google to incorporate CRM insights into paid media and was definitely something that had people scribbling notes and asking questions in the session.

If you are interested in learning more about Customer Match, have a look at 
Darren's blog.

TV synch

Brands were able to see how TV synch would be relevant for them, even if they are not on TV. Charlotte, from our media team, explained how this tool can be used to allow you to benefit from your competitors TV spend by upweighting display ad bids on your competitor campaigns using TV synch technology. It works via a combination of digital watermarking, whereby the technology recognises TV ads and then signals the DSP (in our case, our Kaizen Platform) to upweight CPMs as the customer has been exposed to the selected TV advertising.

This allows brands to either leverage their own TV campaigns by maximising presence on the online channels or capitalise on big spending competitor campaigns. Charlotte shared some current campaign planning that we were undertaking for a financial services client, and also previous experience of this technology for our charity client, the RSPB.

Read more about the RSPB’s success with TV synch as part of their programmatic campaign activity in this recent
case study.

The ad blocking state of play

The biggest talking point of the day was about ad blocking, and how this might impact heavily regulated sectors like the finance industry.

It was common consensus that badly targeted ads may be to blame for the recent upsurge of ad blocking technology and it’s more widespread use amongst consumers, with lots of examples being shared discussing bad experiences with remarketing in particular.

Charlotte suggested digital marketing should be seen as a value exchange where the tools available for agencies and brands to highly target advertising ensure maximum relevance and minimum budget wastage for the user and the brand, respectively.

In the case of ad blocking, we think that the majority are being punished for the actions (or lack of targeting) of a few, and publishers have already started hitting back by blocking website content to those who have ad blocking technology enabled.

Pre-roll ads on YouTube were a topic of discussion and
this clever example was shared from Geico, showing that the problem with some ads, and what causes frustration for the user, is pre-roll ads just not getting to the point quickly enough.

For a look at the ad-blocking state of play, check out Charlotte’s
blog post.

The last word

So that’s another year over, as far as “Digital Futures†events are concerned, anyway. We’ve seen a lot of changes to the industry this year, so it will be interesting to see what unfolds next year. Our 2016 programme is almost finalised, so
watch this space for details or please get in touch to reserve a place.