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Bank of America exec claims mobile ads do not trigger transactions

April 8, 2014


Bank of America plays up mobile engagement

NEW YORK — A Bank of America executive at the 2014 IAB Mobile Marketplace presented two successful examples of campaigns where the financial institution experimented with mobile engagement versus transactions to spur higher interaction rates.

During a presentation, the executive spoke primarily about how marketers need to take a more creative approach with mobile advertising to win in the space. The two Bank of America campaigns discussed during the session were designed to be experiments without a lot of strategy behind them, making the results of the campaign a bit surprising to the brand.

“Don’t focus on transactions first — I mean this is in the broadest possible sense,” said Lou Paskalis, senior vice president and enterprise media executive at Bank of America, Charlotte, NC.

“I think what we make a mistake on is, if we can’t count it, it probably doesn’t matter,” he said.

“I think we have to focus more on creating relationships in mobile, [and] providing great utility in mobile advertising. We certainly have in some of the other things [such as apps] that we do from a customer standpoint, but from a pure-play prospect standpoint, can we use advertising in mobile devices to create relationships?”

Real-time marketing
At the World Economic Forum in Davos this year, Bank of America pushed out content in real-time on paid and social media. Bank of America already had the content and catalogued  it to the topics that the brand knew would be brought up during the event.

Compared to the year before when this real-time content was not being used, there was a 66 percent year-over-year increase in engagement rates, much of which happened on mobile devices.

Additionally, 97 percent of the people Bank of America communicated with on Twitter were net new users, meaning that the brand was able to build a new social following as a result of pushing out real-time content.

The budget between the two years was the same and was an experiment that is likely to fuel more mobile and real-time marketing initiatives in the future.

According to Mr. Paskalis, the key learning from the World Economic Forum campaign is there is an opportunity for financial institutions to react to events in real-time, despite all of the industry-specific regulations.

The other example presented during the session was a campaign called “Face Retirement.”

The brand leveraged social media and mobile to morph a picture into what a consumer will look like at retirement age. The initiative racked up eight million social posts.

Instead of positioning the initiative around a transaction, the campaign was skewed towards social media engagement.

Bank of America’s iPhone app

Triggering engagement
This focus on engagement versus transactions underpins much of Bank of America’s mobile advertising strategy, per Mr. Paskalis.

The idea is that mobile advertising needs to provide more utility than drive commerce to build long-lasting relationships. This mentality requires that marketers test and learn from multiple ad formats instead of waiting for campaign metrics to match the same effectiveness of Web campaigns.

Mr. Paskalis claimed that 70 percent of mobile programs today are created as add-ons to overall marketing plans, which is a mistake as smartphones and tablets become the platforms where consumers are first experiencing a brand.

The executive pinpointed four foundational areas of mobile: Search, second-screen adoption, the demand for content and data.

The challenge though is that these areas cannot be used in isolation. Instead, mobile needs to be interwoven into every marketing medium.

Take location-based mobile advertising, for example.

The key is that there has to be an opt-in process to using a consumer’s location that results in a value exchange.

The opportunity to influence the path to purchase is a big opportunity for marketers, including pushing reminders or offers to consumers at the right time.

“It’s understanding that unless you’re hyper-relevant on this device, you’re probably not really going to win or at least differentiate,” Mr. Paskalis said.

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