For many lenders, online advertising is a lot like the sun: The more you look at it, the less you like it.
Every day, online advertising, and the insatiable analytics industry it has spawned, grow more complex, making the creation of a successful online ad campaign feel like an overwhelming burden for mortgage professionals who still think throwing a few hundred dollars at Facebook or Google and assuming the clicks will roll right in is a marketing strategy fit for a business serious about customer acquisition.
(Spoiler alert: It isn’t.)
Mastering Facebook and Google advertising is important, but according to Matt Voda, CEO of OptiMine Software, for lenders’ advertising dollars to be spent in the most impactful way possible, these companies need to understand that advertising is an ecosystem in which one ad campaign, like paid search, can impact the performance of another, such as online display or video.
Put another way, a click isn’t just a click. The lack of attention received by a display ad, for example, may make it seem as if it isn’t working, but Voda says it may still be influencing customer behavior in a positive way.
“You’re giving all the credit to that click,” Voda says, “when in fact, for a lot of the awareness-generating channels like paid social or video, they can have a significant effect in terms of making the consumer aware of the brand, aware of promotional offers, aware of services that then show up in paid search activity.”
But understanding how separate ad campaigns, formats and platforms influence each other’s performance requires far more sophisticated analysis than what’s offered by a tool like Google Trends. Voda says companies leveraging multiple ad channels, from TV to Facebook, need to invest in the kinds of modern analytics that can demonstrate which ads are working together to provide the intended outcomes.
“The right answer isn’t within each channel, it’s within the whole budget. So if you understand how all those channels impact and interact with each other, then you make a global call on how you want to allocate the mix,” he says.
Having that kind of deep insight into an ad campaign’s effectiveness – how many new clients did it attract? what’s the predicted lifetime value of those clients? – can dramatically improve a lender’s ROI. Rather than continuing to spend on campaigns or formats that aren’t generating traction with consumers, a company can reallocate its resources to campaigns that work.
Voda explains that one of OptiMine’s clients, a large consumer bank based in New York, recently asked OptiMine to analyze its portfolio of advertising partners, networks and campaigns. By looking at the bank’s ad strategy holistically, OptiMine discovered a 400 percent difference between the number of high-value customers attracted by the bank’s highest performing display ads and its weakest ones, allowing the bank to rethink its advertising spend.
“They were able to make a budget-neutral shift,” Voda says. “They didn’t have to spend any more, they just spent more intelligently. They took poor performing dollars from the weakest network partners and invested in the strongest channels.”
While the kinds of advanced analytics Voda recommends can prevent a company from overspending on ineffective ads, they don’t necessarily come cheap. Gaining deep insight into how ad campaigns support each other requires a level of expertise that is very much in demand today, so building a team from scratch can require a significant investment.
Voda says there is still scepticism around dedicating more resources to enhanced advertising analytics. Some old-school companies are unwilling to trust their decisions to a bunch of ones and zeroes, while some finance departments just don’t see the long-term financial benefit. Voda says a dose of hard data is usually enough to bring the doubters around.
“When you have these types of analytics in place, and you can come back with a quantifiable and objective answer in terms of what that advertising is driving in the business, it fundamentally resets that relationship with finance,” he says. “They have to pay attention. They have to respect the quantitative side of this.”