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The financial crash and past banking scandals has left trust in financial service providers at a record low. At the same time, the increase in online transactions has distanced many people from human interactions with their banks and in-branch experiences. As a result, brands have had to try to restore confidence, re-engage audiences and boost consideration while adapting to new market conditions.

The way people buy brands and products these days is complex. We also know that decision-making is often irrational, with device-laden consumers having access to information 24/7 and peer influence playing an increasingly important role in consumer choices.

64% of people interested in finance read news brands every day, 92% read every week

Most people are not particularly interested in finance and many can find the decision-making process challenging, only thinking about the sector when they absolutely have to. The rapid rise of comparison sites is just one indicator of their need for reassurance. Similarly, news brands continue to provide valued reach and expertise:

  • for those interested in financial matters – 64% of people interested in finance read news brands every day, 92% read them every week
  • for online banking users – over 87% of weekly visitors to the top seven finance brand websites have read an online news brand that same week
  • for the vast majority who mostly avoid thinking about finance except when absolutely necessary – news brands reach more people weekly than Google or Facebook
  • for mobile financial transactions, mobile news brand readers are both more likely to use banking apps and more likely to use Paypal and Google Pay – and there’s 27.7 million of them every week!

While there are reasonably defined purchase journeys for finance products – which tend to be long (e.g. mortgages) or medium (e.g. phone insurance) journeys – people gather associations over time, often subconsciously, about finance brands they may like to use in the future. In an age where there is an increased choice of brands; brand association and salience are now more critical than ever before. The findings from our ‘How People Buy’ research lend credence to this, with two out of three of people choosing between just one or two brands once they start the buying journey.

Brand preference provides consumers with more confidence. People who have one brand in mind when they embark on a long purchase journey are more likely to be “very confident” (43%) than worried (39%). Confidence grows over time and 63% feel very confident when they make the final decision. For people who start the journey with no brand in mind, worry is high at 54% and confidence is low at 17%. While confidence improves to 41% at the buying stage, it is still outweighed by worry at 43%.

Just 39% of people who start out a long buying journey with one brand in mind are worried about the decision they make

If you want to see which channels have the greatest influence at the different stages of the purchase journey and how news brands compare, try our “How People Buy” planning tool.

News brands can help play a key role in the finance purchase journey. They can reflect shared values and build trust – which is ideal for framing perceptions before a buying journey ever starts. They help build brand salience and awareness and excel at providing a moment of inspiration that can kickstart the purchase process. News brands are ideal for providing information that tests assumptions, to ensure you are not missing out on anything and won’t regret the decision.

Our ‘Planning for Profit’ research demonstrates that finance campaigns that utilise news brands are more profitable than those that don’t.

Les Binet and Peter Field found that the financial services sector has seen the steepest decline in effectiveness in the last decade, due to short-termism and over investment in activation rather than brand building campaigns (IPA: Effectiveness in Context). They calculate that the ideal ratio to maximise business effects such as new customers and profitability, is actually 80/20 brand building to activation.

Peter Field’s latest analysis of the IPA Databank, including 2018 cases for the first time, shows that print news brand effectiveness is still increasing and multi-platform news brand campaigns are even more effective.

MESH Experience’s report on the Retail Banking sector shows that print newspapers are still the fifth highest reaching touchpoint for consumers (after TV, online banking, branch and online in general, which includes digital news brands). Moreover, a newspaper experience drives the same impact on consideration as TV and is the most impactful touchpoint at building brand advocacy – over twice the impact as TV.

Yet finance category spend in print news brands has exhibited the most marked decline, from 19% of total media budgets in 2013 to just 7.2% in 2017. Spend in digital news brands has maintained a share of around 4% during the same period, despite a huge growth in audience.

The fall in print ad spend is far steeper than the decline in circulation and coverage. While weekly readership of print newspapers has obviously fallen, there are still 22 million weekly readers, according to the latest PAMCo data. Digital newsbrands have also significantly boosted readership and the overall weekly newsbrand audience now stands at 44.3 million.

Finance brands are missing out on potential profit of £264 million by underinvesting in news brands.

The current average 7.2% investment in print news brands elicits a campaign profit of £56 million overall. If the average rose to the 11.9% minimum share of media spend to optimise overall campaign profit levels, the additional profit released could be as much as £179 million.

Digital display is an efficient channel for delivering profit in the finance category and including digital news brands as part of the online strategy clearly reaps additional profit. The recommendation is that digital news brands should take a slightly higher share of overall media spend, at 5.6%. This would generate potential additional profit of £110 million.

If you want to find the optimum level of investment for both print and digital news brands for your campaign, try our PROI optimiser.

News brands have proved a very effective medium for numerous finance brands. Recent successful campaigns have focused on building brand values, saliency and trust to boost consideration. For example, Halifax teamed up with Metro to demystify the world of finance, launching a weekly personal finance section ‘Money’ in September 2017 that is still published today – resulting in a 48% increase in consideration; TSB partnered with The Guardian in the ‘relationship project’, to encourage consumers to rethink their banking relationship in order to overcome inertia about switching current accounts, which drove brand positivity and consideration; Nationwide’s ‘Voices’ campaign benefited from the trusted, safe environment that newspapers provide to raise brand trust and consideration; and Lloyds Bank created an editorial series with The Guardian money desk to answer some of the toughest questions on retirement and wealth management.  

View charts highlighting news brands’ advertising effectiveness in the finance category or read our RAMetrics analysis of finance advertising

More insight for planners