Category Development Officer, Finance
Investors visit sites like AOL’s DailyFinance to keep tabs on news or their portfolio, but it’s not the only time they’re thinking about making financial decisions. Paul Kadin, AOL’s category development officer for finance, spoke to eMarketer’s Bryan Yeager about how AOL helps marketers target investors across its network and how it identifies them at life event stages when they are most likely to engage and convert.
eMarketer: How does AOL serve marketers and advertisers in the investment category?
Paul Kadin: What we offer to the investment category [is designed around their desire] to find “money in motion.” That’s really the key for them to be able to build their businesses: define those occasions when a consumer has reason to move their money.
For example, if they are leaving a job and moving to the next job and need to roll over a 401(k) into an IRA, or they are moving to a new geography and they have a desire to be near an investment advisor that’s closer to them geographically, they have reason to consider moving their money. Or they’re moving to a new life stage—they got married, or they’re buying a home.
We try to create the editorial environment and draw the appropriate kind of traffic so the investment company marketer can place the right message at the right time.
A lot of the techniques, formats and technologies are really based on that premise—smartly targeting and being relevant to the situation[s] of money moving. It’s very hard in the investment category to cause somebody to just decide to move to another brokerage firm or another investment advisor if they are reasonably satisfied. So a lot of the activity happens at these money-movement occasions.
“It’s very hard in the investment category to cause somebody to just decide to move to another brokerage firm or another investment advisor if they are reasonably satisfied.”
DailyFinance, for example, is devoted to everything you need to know about your financial affairs at whatever life stage you may be at. We have succeeded in changing the profile of DailyFinance over the past few years to be more affluent and female-oriented compared with our competitors’ sites.
eMarketer: How are other AOL properties used as part of finance-specific campaigns?
Kadin: We’ve been incorporating a lot of our nonendemic sites into the solutions that we’ve been providing to our finance category-specific clients. There are life events that cause people to focus on some aspects of their financial life, and those life events bring them to content locations that may not at all be financial locations. If you’re getting married or if you’re having a baby, those are financial events as much as anything else.
When we package together [marketing] solutions for firms that are in the investment business and other subsegments of financial services, we are combining AOL.com and DailyFinance, as well as our lifestyle site and The Huffington Post site—places where people are going because of their life situation—and where bringing in a message about financial [planning] is not out of the blue. In fact, it’s actually very relevant.
The Huffington Post is interesting because that very authentic editorial environment has been used to create specific sponsored content for a number of our advertisers. The content there is still completely in the control of the editorial side of the organization and all of the contributors.
What clients like about The Huffington Post’s approach is that the stories and the surrounding branding that comes with those stories are shared on the web, more so than ever. Wherever it’s shared, that advertiser is tagging along with that content because it’s got their branding.
eMarketer: What targeting are financial firms using to reach investors?
Kadin: We have the ability to take the desired customer profile that a client wants and create a lookalike model of the characteristics of that target audience. The model is made up of targeting parameters available to us in our ad serving, both on our owned properties and across our network.
“The Huffington Post is interesting because that very authentic editorial environment has been used to create specific sponsored content for a number of our advertisers.”
Targeting for financial services clients is really robust. Firms are marrying their modeling and their first-party information with the extensive third-party information we provide. Sophisticated marketers are doing a lot of smart testing and gaining experience on how to use these capabilities. I think there’s still a long way to go to fully capture and use these capabilities. We’re working hard to help them experiment, measure and improve.
Retargeting is available to reach those customers wherever they travel on the web, knowing that they are an existing customer. We also do something called audience matching. We can take your client base and do a match with our addressable household [list], which is around 60 million households. We get a pretty good match rate, so that wherever [someone on that list] touches our sites or our network, we can deliver a message to them. We can [use an advertiser’s own] model to say which particular message should be delivered to that particular viewer.
For some large banks, their priority is not new customer acquisition—their priority is cross-sell. More of their marketing dollars are directed to talking to their distinct customers [in ways other than] through their own email, direct mail or branch merchandising. Audience matching is underutilized. The capability is there, [and] those advertisers who do it see very good results.