How Financial Marketers Are Investing In Digital

40% of financial marketers’ budgets will be allocated to digital in 2013. But which digital channels will see the biggest gains? Here’s the breakdown.

According to research by Martini Media, the majority of financial brands plan to increase marketing investments in one or more of the digital marketing channels they currently employ.


( Read More: The 5 Biggest Digital Marketing Mistakes Banks Make )

When asked about budget decreases, regular online display ads showed the largest decline. In fact, only 8% of financial marketers say they will increase their budget for standard online advertising, while a quarter plan to decrease spending. Martini Media says this reflects a wider shift in digital spending towards richer, more engaging digital media formats.

“The results of our research clearly show that financial brands understand how their customers consume media,” asserts Martini Media President and CRO Tom O’Regan.

Perhaps. But some of the numbers in the study might suggest otherwise. For instance, 59% of financial marketers say they intend to increase spending in the mobile channel this year.

Key Question: How, precisely, do they plan to do that?

Enthusiasm in the financial industry for mobile solutions is high — both from marketers and consumers alike. That much is clear. Less clear, however, is how financial marketers can leverage the mobile channel. With its cramped screen size and limited marketing opportunities, banks and credit unions could find themselves struggling to exploit mobile in significant ways. In other words, they may plan to spend more, but where are they going to spend it? Who is supposedly going to get this (bigger) pile of dough?

The same could be said about “rich media.” Do financial marketers really understand what “rich media” entails? There are probably many who equate rich media with YouTube videos.

Reality Check: Survey options like “mobile marketing” and “rich media” may sound very important to participants, so perhaps financial marketers are just checking those boxes despite having a fuzzy understanding of what’s involved.

( Read More: 2013 State of Bank & Credit Union Marketing )

Martini Media says financial marketers are pivoting to digital because they are seeing diminishing returns and poor audience engagement in traditional advertising channels. 77% of participants believe high impact ads can breakthrough as much as TV/Print ads. 67% say digital is more efficient, believing that it costs less to reach targeted consumers online than off.

These numbers align with results research conducted earlier this year by The Financial Brand, where 72% said that online/digital channels would be “more important” in 2013 than in 2012. Conversely, The Financial Brand’s study revealed that 47% of bank and credit union marketers felt print advertising would be “less important” this year, and 28% felt the same way towards TV/radio advertising.

Financial marketers also think digital represents a smarter, more effective way for financial brands to reach their ideal customers. 91% of those surveyed believe they can hit their target audience via data and targeting, and 87% agree it’s worth paying premium CPMs on some specific sites to ensure they reach their target audience. The brands also overwhelmingly (88%) feel they can reach these consumers by aggregating niche sites that speak to their target audience.

58% of financial institutions believe video is vital to marketing financial services online. Not surprisingly then, 53% will be experimenting with some form of video advertising and an additional 32% will be shifting TV dollars to online video.

According to the study, 91% currently leverage some form of content in their digital ads. 68% exclusively use their own original content and 23% also integrate third party content.

Martini Media’s survey was conducted with Grammercy Institute in March 2013. Martini Media will present the findings as well as discuss financial marketers’ expectations from the digital channel around the country this Spring.

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This article was originally published on April 4, 2013. All content © 2018 by The Financial Brand and may not be reproduced by any means without permission.


  1. While allocating budget to digital channels sounds nice… the scary thing I see is that for many credit unions, there is no real digital marketing plan or long term strategy. Just because you shift dollars to digital and spend more does not mean one will yield greater results. They will find digital to be deadly (

    For many credit unions marketers and executives who have been raised and built career on traditional analogue channels, they must first take a step back to see how everything will fit together. Otherwise digital engagement may be nothing more than a checklist of items (

    Digital does not stand alone. Traditional does not stand alone. At the end of the day, the goal should be to drive leads for loans and new accounts. Through the use of digital channels, this can be done in a more 1:1 personalized way but a well thought out plan that connects people, product and process together is a must.

    This will help to create a seamless experience from the offline to the digital channels and then vice versa. A cornerstone in this though must be some kind of CRM as a way to collect, analyze and use the data that is being collected through this digital 1:1 experiences (experiences being nothing more than well defined and refined processes).

    However, as you noted from your research earlier this year, 64.1% of financial marketers noted they have inadequate MCIF/CRM database(s) as a challenge for 2013. This echos research we recently did as part of a pre-conference session survey before I spoke at the CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council Conference. I found 48% of respondents (made up of 1/3 of approximately 380 credit union and marketers and BD leaders attending the conference) do not have a CRM in place.

    If credit unions wish to be successful in the digital world, a digital delivery echo system must be established comprised of digital channels, CRM and automated marketing components working hand in hand together.

    Otherwise, who cares about serving up mobile ads if there is no process in place to get the right product to the right people at the right place at the right time.

  2. Christopher S. Rollyson says:

    Great points, CMOs will no more improve results substantially by changing “format” than CIOs succeed in changing productivity with technology. As you imply and @james robert lay emphasizes, format is less important than focus. Here’s what I mean:

    Marketers have told themselves and their CEOs for years that they are “customer/client-focused,” and most even believe it. In the Industrial Economy, value was created by mass-producing goods and mass-managing services, using demo/psychographic information to “get personal” and cost-managed “service.” That was okay during the impersonal, industrial age when we all traded true individual and personal interaction for more [service, product] for less money. From that point of view, the fly in the ointment is that social technologies have made personal and individual scalable, so client/customer expectations are changing fast.

    Sorry, format won’t do it anymore. Sure, sometimes brands will see incremental improvements, but they will be fleeting. Go to where the puck is. Serve individuals online—at scale, where everyone will see how much you care.

    Brands need to learn how to relate. Since I’ve helped many undertake that journey, I appreciate how this is new ground because a *firm* relating to individuals personally is different from people relating to each other personally. The game will be won or lost in the Social Channel [], where brands inspire by serving people. As a thrice chief marketer myself, I find that concept so refreshing. Don’t you?

  3. Wow: a classic example of poorly written, mixed-metaphor, consultant-speak garbage. Ugh. Save it for the next set of fools who regret hiring you, please.

  4. Having read through the entire article again (twice), it’s hard to see where you are coming from. There are no “mixed metaphors” in the story, nor do we see any “consultant speak.” The article is, in fact, a presentation of stats and findings from a report. This study was conducted by Martini Media, not The Financial Brand. The Financial Brand offers no consulting services of any kind — in fact we don’t sell anything but ad space — so you don’t have to worry about any “fools” hiring us.

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