Financial Marketers Must Embrace AI to Remain Relevant

The transformation in banking includes the ability for financial marketers to embrace new technologies to maximize results. At the forefront of this transformation is the use of data and artificial intelligence (AI) to improve targeting, messaging and ROI.

Financial marketers are drowning in data. In fact they are drowning in an overwhelming 2.5 quintilian bytes of data which is collected every day at the same time that consumers are being bombarded by an increasing array of messages from an ever expanding number of channels. Data has turned from being gold dust to being a marketer’s nemesis. It has become too unwieldy to be properly scrutinized for meaning, and in some instances, it can even be misleading. Interpret it wrong, and financial marketers may end up distancing their brand from their target consumer. In fact they could even do damage to the consumer relationship and the brand overall.

Marketing analytics have changed tremendously over the last few years, moving from so-called soft metrics like page views and shares to more sophisticated measures of user behavior and engagement. Increasingly, financial marketers need to be able to approach their work the way other data-driven functions do, by identifying the right metrics, understanding the data they are collecting, and using content marketing analytics to answer business-critical questions and demonstrate ROI.

The goal of reaching more targeted customers has been driving many marketers in the financial sector to seek better solutions, and we are starting to see a definite shift in the way marketers are engaging with their future customers. This shift, empowered in large part by new generation AI, has placed  astute marketers on the cusp of the next huge change in the digital ad tech industry.

It is worth noting that up until recently despite all the hype around AI, its usage in the financial marketing sector had been confined to very niche areas, from reorganizing data more efficiently to tagging and organizing inventory.  It wasn’t until ‘Reach’  lost its pole position as the ultimate metric,  being sidestepped by a need for higher and more accurate engagement with consumers, that AI’s massive potential started to build momentum.

We have finally reached a tipping point where AI is shifting from being an empty catchphrase, and is being used instead to draw attention to a truly transformational tool.

So what does this new generation AI offer?

Sophisticated Insights

Where once AI was being used to change the ad units shown to targeted users in real time, we are now able to work with far more sophisticated insights, such as gathering data about the site the user is on to ensure the ad unit aligns, not just with the user’s demographics but also the website the user is visiting.

Clarified Decision-Making Processes

AI can now be used to segment audiences to tailor bespoke creative campaigns and unlock the elusive customer decision-making processes. One of the core shifts here is the move away from what financial marketers believe is required to a focus on what the consumer truly desires. In other words, building authentic audiences.

Tailored Audiences

AI has reached a new level of sophistication that combines audience intent and personality data to allow astute financial marketers to refine the audiences they are targeting and then go on to serve the right creative to the right segment of this audience. And this is leading to smarter, more tailored audiences being built at scale.

Demystified Influencers

Financial marketers can now maximize response rates and tease out valuable audience insights based on users who respond to the ad creative they find most compelling. This is something that will take them much further along the customer journey than they have ever been before as the ‘mystique’ behind identifying  key influencers and tracking their behavior is replaced with a scalable, proven way of achieving this.

During one campaign for a global financial organization, granular audience analysis highlighted the fact that LinkedIn sponsored updates tended to deliver a higher engagement rate and a lower Cost per Click than side ads. This same campaign on Twitter revealed that tweets focusing on a particular country had a lower Cost per Click compared to more general ads referring to global findings.

AI Powers The Next Generation of Marketing

There is no doubt that by maximizing response rates, reducing Cost per Action and upping creative personalization financial marketers are now able to shift beyond the outdated model that resulted in them serving the most popular creative to only a small segment of their audience. AI-powered marketing can reduce consumer irritation at being served irrelevant ads, limit brand dilution and minimizing the terrifying media wastage that this generates.

PWC reported recently that $20.8 billion dollars was spent on digital advertising in the second quarter of 2017 alone. Yet with click through rates well under 0.5%, it can be argued that over $100,000 dollars spent every minute does not result in an actionable outcome that businesses can prove. This is not just a lost opportunity, it is a waste of financial resources also.

Yet, with the next wave of real time audience insights and applied AI to understand and filter the huge valuable data pools, the industry can choose to go down a new path that has enormous potential to transform results. This will reduce wastage of time for financial brands and for users, plus make advertising more consumer-relevant and therefore more engaging and impactful.

Being a leader in the next wave of financial digital advertising requires turning up the volume on AI and taking it beyond its initial forays into the financial ecosystem, such as approving loans and assessing risks. It is time to push through the current boundaries that seem to be holding many financial marketers back and increase marketing ROI and customer satisfaction.

This article was originally published on May 1, 2018. All content © 2018 by The Financial Brand and may not be reproduced by any means without permission.

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