Did you know financial ads are three times more often perceived as ‘irritating’ and six times more often as ‘unpleasant’ compared to other categories? Generally seen as an unexciting and low-involvement category, financial service brands often find it a challenge to engage people. The nature of the category is so complex that it demands simplification from brands if they are to communicate credibly and consistently across multiple touchpoints.
Kantar’s Connect database shows that non-paid touchpoints are more important than paid touchpoints, generating 74% of overall brand impact, in line with other categories. More specifically, touchpoints with a human touch remain crucial since they can build trust and help demystify complicated financial products - especially important in these times of difficulty and uncertainty. This includes personal contact with bank staff, recommendations from friends and independent consultants that collectively contribute to 20% of the impact. Digital touchpoints are strong drivers of brand and sales, now creating 34% of impact compared to 23% for traditional media touchpoints. Owned and earned digital touchpoints such as mobile apps, brand websites, comparison websites and online banking tend to contribute more impact than paid digital media.
A global retail banking client based in Norway ran a Kantar Connect study which investigated the dramatic changes that digital touchpoints have made to the market landscape in the last decade. The client was managing double the number of touchpoints than they did in 2010, with fragmented information on the ROI of these touchpoints. We found Norwegian customers were more receptive to digital touchpoints such as payment apps and online banking, yet personal experiences with an advisor at a bank also proved to be quite effective. As a result, some budget was moved from the traditional touchpoints which were least impactful and invested in owned digital touchpoints as well as ‘hand-picked’ sponsorship activities that were better received by the audience.
Within paid media, TV is the major contributor across all levels of the funnel. However, this contribution comes at a price; financial brands spend a greater share of media on TV compared to other categories, which appears to be the least cost-effective paid media for financial services. High CPM (cost per thousand impressions) inventory on TV might be a reason, as finance brands generate less reach and frequency than other categories. In contrast, online video works very cost effectively for finance brands, particularly in terms of driving purchase intent. Outdoor ads generally deliver only average cost effectiveness, although the HSBC UK ad which won the recent Kantar Creative Effectiveness Awards shows they can work incredibly well when the environment and location targeting capabilities match a powerful creative message.
TV can be very cost effective for finance brands when used in the right way, however. A UK financial services brand was keen to understand how the presence of TV in their campaign contributed to overall campaign performance, in order to secure the on-going budget required. Kantar CrossMedia uncovered that TV was key to the campaign’s success. With lower overall investment, the non-TV campaign performance was below average. For the campaign with TV, investment increased by 60%, but this delivered an 800% increase in ad awareness and a 314% increase in brand contributions. Additionally, all other channels helped to advance the brand since using TV in the second campaign created stronger synergy effects. This resulted in the business securing additional funding for future TV-led campaigns.
Across all touchpoints, finance brands need to deliver simple, clear and personable messaging. More people have embraced technology when researching and using financial services, and therefore a strong and seamless presence in digital channels is now an imperative. This is more important than ever in the current crisis where online access to financial brands is not merely for convenience but also for personal safety. Coupled with a human connection, such as bank representatives being available for a video call, positive perceptions around the brand can be built effectively through digital touchpoints.
The user experience of digital apps is also key to a positive experience, and the introduction of fun and friendly chatbots can help maintain a personal connection. Traditional finance players need to be watchful of the emerging Neobanks who are disrupting the market with their focus on online channels, many of whom are raising expectations of clean design and a modern and stylish experience. Finally, in both paid and owned digital touchpoints, finance brands will be expected to apply behavioural targeting to tailor ads and experiences. This personalisation can augment touchpoint effectiveness as long as it is not considered creepy.
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