Financial Industry a Top Spender on Digital

By Tom Score

For veterans of financial marketing, a report by eMarketer came as no great surprise: the financial services sector (insurers, banks, credit card issuers, investment firms and the like) is the second-highest spender in paid digital media.

Financial services marketers will spend $5.20 billion on digital in 2013, rising to $7.38 billion by 2017. A whopping 62% of that budget will go to direct-response efforts, with brand-focused campaigns making up the remaining 38%. Search and display will still command the largest chunks of digital spending across the category, with growth expected in the areas of mobile, local, video and native advertising.

While growth will continue to slow from a post-recession high in 2011, the industry’s share of digital spending will remain relatively stable over the forecast period. Between 2012 and 2017, industry spending will experience a 9.9% compound annual growth rate.

Mobile marketing in particular has become a mainstay of the industry. Smartphone apps to access financial info and conduct transactions have become must-have offerings. I find this interesting, and a bit conflicting, considering other reports indicate consumers are still uneasy about sharing financial info (such as credit card and bank account numbers) online.

Of course, the move toward mobile/online alternatives to going to a branch is a continuation of the trend started years ago by banks to keep people out of teller lines (driving them to ATM’s, for example). Yet the same banks that are providing more automated services are seemingly all still touting their “personal banking teams.”

The question that occurs to me is of the “chicken and egg” variety: which came first? Did banks embrace digital technology to pro-actively reach out to a younger, tech-savvy generation  . . . or were they driven to develop new tools because their existing customers demanded them?

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