The finance sector has dramatically changed throughout the past few years as advertisers have shifted their focus from an “all guns blazing” strategy of delivering a high volume of sales in the quickest time possible, to strategically analyzing, in more depth, the long term value of customers and the quality of the brand’s advertising.
This was not an uncommon change across the entire performance marketing industry as advertisers began examining their online traffic more closely through site analytics, de-duplication and internal reporting. These investigations led to a significant change in the finance sector as brands looked to reassess the value of Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising and, more notably, their involvement within the cashback and the incentive community.
Addressing Compliance, Fraud, & Customer Quality
As the majority of finance brands became more authoritative towards compliance, fraud and the quality of customers; networks and publishers have introduced new tools and procedures to ensure financial providers continued to promote through the performance channel.
It can be argued that the increase of savvy internet users combined with the economic downturn has contributed to the sector almost returning full circle to an over reliance on cashback and incentive sites, but one could argue that improved validation processes, advancements to fraud checks and clearer messaging provided by networks and publishers has led to financial providers feeling more confident with advertising through this channel.
Since the recession, another argument has emerged within the finance sector claiming that “content is dead,” as providers are gradually becoming more dependent on aggregators and cashback sites to deliver high internal targets.
General insurance (GI) products have certainly seen a decline in the existence of content publishers as their product culture is dominated by a “switching” mentality, which encourages the consumer to compare and search for the best possible deal. These types of publishers will continually attract deal savvy, switching customers but debatably won’t deliver a long term value customer.
In a saturated market like insurance, it is incredibly difficult for the smaller, content sites to make any inroads into delivering more sales as they are unable to invest back into an already very expensive PPC market, or any other developments, due to a low return of investment.
A Deadly Catch-22
Does a client try and reengage with the smaller publishers and help them to provide incremental volume or do they persist with those that are proven volume drivers perhaps resulting in the death of content?
This argument is not as clear cut as it seems though as content publishers continue to thrive on other financial products like savings, ISA (though these are relatively seasonal), credit cards, personal loans and current accounts.
There is inevitably an element of bargain shopping with these products as well, yet it seems that, due to their complexity, consumers will research these products more thoroughly in order to gain a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. This consequently leads the consumer to content driven sites for advice and education rather than the deal or cashback orientated publishers.
This trend is set to continue as long as the culture of the products remains the same. When savings accounts and personal loans become as “household” as switching your car or home insurance then content will again start to feel the stale breath of the reaper on the back of their necks. Until that day though, the aggregators and the cashbacks can put their flag in the heart of the GI products but there is plenty more of the financial empire out there for content to claim.