Advertising financial products has never been easy, but it’s about to get a whole lot harder.
The growing trend of ad blocking, brought to you by easy-to-download free software, is to be further facilitated by Apple’s new mobile and computer operating systems, IoS 9 and OS X 10.11, both to be released in autumn this year.
This comes after news that the FT and the Economist have both revised their online ad strategy, ditching much maligned ad impressions (how many times a page with your ad on it is viewed) in favour of a new ROI: ‘attention.’ Impressions, they argue, are a skewed way of looking at success as they don’t show whether a consumer has even noticed your advert as they click through a site. ‘Attention,’ on the other hand, will at least aim to show you how long a consumer had the page open while your ad played. It makes sense for publishers to move away from impressions, given that it causes editors to wring their hands over having to create clickable ‘Buzzfeed-style’ content to increase page views. With a new ‘attention’ ROI, the pressure will be off journalists and the onus placed back on the advertiser. This way too, if an ad doesn’t pass muster, marketers will soon know about it.
Hard selling on social media is a hard sell
Selling on social media’s not easy either, especially not for your average fund manager. While some industries manage promotions very well on Twitter and Facebook, marketing teams in the finance industry must contend with the limitations of character count after including the following warning: ‘Capital at risk.’
‘Capital at risk’ looks unlikely to be changed into an emoji anytime soon, so many brands have quite rightfully given up on advertising financial products on Twitter altogether. (Incidentally, we suggested the following emoji as an alternative to ‘Capital at Risk’ . The FCA has yet to respond.)
All of this can only add up to one thing – web ads will die out. We know online advertising has to evolve to survive, but how?
Put away the ROIs, and think like a publisher
At its most basic level, advertising works because it provides a solution for a consumer. If your ad or your product does not solve a problem for your targeted audience, it’ll be difficult for you to ever make an impact. Despite knowing all this, we’re still grappling over the right ROIs rather than the quality of the content we’re actually offering consumers. It is high time brands put the ROIs aside and concentrated on the consumer need. Consumer need should drive the ROI…and not the other way around.
This shift in focus means quality content is set to be an even more precious commodity because it is the only thing that brands can do that might be consumed rather than ignored.
Content is king…and not just any old content either
This is why marketers working in financial services that want to stay relevant will increasingly look to promoting company values, trustworthiness and usefulness over the straightforward flogging of financial products. Some of them are already doing it, recognising that selling knowledge and a reputation works online – whereas the jury is most definitely out for ads that sell products. Expert commentary, cherry-picked opinion and the sharing of free tools or products will be the best way to reach and engage with online audiences of the future. A word of warning here: This isn’t just about trotting out any old content. We already know the average online attention span is even lower than those offline.
Brands will be forced to create quality content akin to that written by publishers. The best will seek out expert opinion on how that content should be shared online and with whom. Careful and transparent personalisation will go in tandem with improved real time analytics and measurement.
This means that marketers will need to flip seamlessly between telling a good story well and using the right tech for the job. Gone are the days of separating these two skills, because, with the death of flashing MPUs and barely decipherable terms and conditions, content is not just king – it is everything.
Still not convinced? Whether ad blocking takes off or not, you can rest assured that nobody is sharing your MPUs and banner ads. Your content however, could travel – and do far more for your bottom line.