Sight, Sound & Success
U.S. banks seeing the highest returns on their advertising investment are not necessarily those spending the most but instead have the heaviest TV budgets. A new report from financial-services research firm Aite Group, which examined ad-spending trends and return on advertising performance of 32 of the largest 50 U.S. retail banks from 2006 through 2008, found that top 25% highest-performing banks are those with TV-heavy buys. The 32 banks included in the report accounted for 75% of ad spending by the top 100 bank advertisers, a group which spent $1.9 billion on advertising in 2007, according to market-research firm TNS. Yet according to Aite, sheer budget size does not always yield high returns. “There are a lot of factors that figure into bank performance,” said Ron Shevlin, senior analyst at Aite Group and author of the report. “Sales ability, ad execution and asset optimization are all things we found done particularly well in the top quadrant of banks.” He said banks in that top quadrant — which include big names such as Citibank and Wachovia, as well as smaller companies Huntington, BB&T and Hudson Bank — did best in driving deposit, loan and IRA account growth, which is, after all, the ultimate goal in bank marketing. While other banks succeeded in ramping different traditional metrics of advertising return, such as awareness, he said those ad dollars were ultimately lost because they did not result in new deposits, loan or IRA growth.
Social Network Surge
The rapidly evolving world of social networks and blogs has officially grown up. Last year, the largest increase in visitors to such “member community” Web sites came from those ages 35-49, according to a new report from The Nielsen Co. “Social networking isn’t just growing rapidly, it’s evolving–both in terms of a broader audience and compelling new functionality,” said Alex Burmaster, author of the study and communications director across EMEA for Nielsen Online. But grow rapidly it did. In 2008, over two-thirds (67%) of the global online population visited what Nielsen dubs “member communities,” which include both social networks and blogs. That placed “member communities” as the fourth-largest online category, ahead of “personal email.” What’s more, the category grew twice as fast as any of the other four largest sectors, including search, portals, PC software and email. According to the Nielsen report, Facebook–which has now surpassed MySpace as the world’s most popular social network–was visited monthly by three in every 10 people online across the nine markets in which Nielsen tracks social networking. In Brazil, meanwhile, Google’s Orkut social network had the largest domestic online reach–70%–of any social network in these markets. Germany saw the greatest increase in penetration of social networks and blogs across 2008, from 39% of the online audience in December 2007 to 51% in December 2008–a relative growth of 39%. In addition, mobile is playing an increasingly important role in social networking, according to Nielsen. U.K. mobile Web users had the greatest propensity to visit a social network through their handset, with 23%–or roughly 2 million people–doing so, compared to 19% in the U.S.–or some 10.6 million people.
Morning Show Mayhem
To promote its flagship morning show, “Good Morning America,” ABC has bought ads in rival early-bird programming, including CNN’s “American Morning.” In other words, when CNN’s John Roberts cuts to a commercial break, you might see an ad suggesting you change the channel to watch GMA’s Diane Sawyer instead. Since rival networks were not likely to accept an ad from ABC News, ABC made the purchases through local cable operators in the top 10 national markets, allowing its GMA ads to run between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. on a range of cable-news channels. ABC’s approach is the latest use of local ad time to circumvent the awkward times when a particular TV network would prefer not to run a certain ad. Alan Ives, executive producer at ABC News, says it makes sense to hunt on other channels for non-GMA watchers and hope to lure them from competitors’ programs. “It’s easier to convert someone who has the TV on at the time than it is to run a print ad to get them to remember.”
Strangest Media Opportunity of the Week: The Doghouse.
Less heard about but no less tragic is the story of the pets that are left behind as the family piles into the car and drives off. It was the plight of those animals that was running through the mind of Phil Jones, art director at an ad agency in Charlotte, N.C. Jones, a dog lover, had just finished reading a story about those abandoned pets. Says Jones: “It was one of those a-ha moments after reading a news article. The Humane Society of Charlotte is one of our clients, so I thought ‘We can do something about this, and it’s timely.'” From that a-ha moment arose an idea and then a plan and from that an alternative media campaign. The centerpiece is a dog house. Over the dog house is a sign that reads “Foreclosure” in bold red letters. It sits in front of the Humane Society of Charlotte. Next to the dog house stands a post and on the top of it is a box that looks just like those boxes you see in front of homes that are on the market. But inside, instead of the listings for available homes in the neighborhood, are listings for abandoned pets that are available for adoption.The great tragedy of this vicious economic downturn is the number of people forced onto the streets by foreclosures, and it seems not a night goes by on the evening news where we’re not told of some hapless family saying good-bye to their home.