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US Financial Industry Increases Mobile Spending to Push New Services

Ad spend in paid digital media by the US financial services industry will hit $6.20 billion in 2014

May 22, 2014

Advertising spending in paid digital media by the US financial services industry will hit $6.20 billion in 2014 and rise to $9.57 billion by 2018, for a five-year compound annual growth rate of 12.5%. Digital ad spending among financial marketers grew 15.3% in 2013 and is projected to increase another 16.9% this year, with growth rates tapering off but remaining positive through the forecast period, according to a new eMarketer report, “The US Financial Services Industry 2014: Digital Ad Spending Forecast and Trends,” part of our new report series, “2014 Digital Ad Spending Benchmarks by Industry.”

US Financial Services Industry Digital Ad Spending, 2012-2018 (billions, % of total digital ad spending and % change)

Mobile advertising is becoming a substantial part of the digital media mix for the financial industry, driven by broader market trends as well as a concerted push by institutions to get consumers to use mobile financial services. eMarketer estimates that $2.20 billion, or 35.5% total spend by the sector, will go toward paid mobile ads by the end of 2014.

In addition, areas like video, social media and sponsored content continue to get a lot of attention from financial marketers. Firms are experimenting with these formats and tactics in new ways to try and reach their target audience and meet an array of objectives, with the ultimate aim to drive business growth.

US Financial Services Industry Digital Ad Spending, by Objective, 2014 (billions and % of total)

The financial services industry continues to primarily leverage digital advertising to support direct-response objectives. eMarketer estimates that in 2014, financial marketers will dedicate $3.84 billion, or 62% of their total digital ad spending, to direct response, with the remaining $2.36 billion going toward branding initiatives.

This year, eMarketer has adjusted our approach to accounting for direct-response vs. branding spending across industries by basing estimates on marketing objective (that is, driving account openings) instead of specific ad format type (for example, search advertising).

The change reflects how marketers have evolved their view into using a mix of digital tactics to achieve specific objectives based on measurement instead of the prevailing perception about which format is the most appropriate to reach that objective.

And as advertisers’ measurement capabilities have matured, the line between branding and direct response has blurred, according to Jerry Canning, director of financial services at Google. “Search has clearly been labeled as a direct-response performance platform, yet there are marketers that measure brand value there,” he said. “We’ll also have direct-response folks using video—traditionally a brand platform—and measuring acquisition on the back end through retargeting and tracking mechanisms.”

Others agree that the industry is moving away from relegating digital to direct response. “Display, video and other channels probably serve as well, if not better, for branding as they do for performance,” said Patrizio Spagnoletto, head of digital at Farmers Insurance Group.

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