The finance sector has changed dramatically over the past two years as clients shifted their focus away from a gun-ho strategy of delivering a high volume of sales in the quickest time possible to analysing, in more detail, the long term value of consumers and the quality of the brand’s advertising.
This was not an uncommon change across the entire affiliate industry as clients began to examine their online traffic more closely through site analytics, de-duplication and internal reporting. These investigations led to a significant change in the finance sector as clients began to reassess the value of Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising and, more notably, their involvement within the cashback and the incentive channel.
Compliance, Fraud, & Customer Quality
As the majority of finance clients became more authoritative towards compliance, fraud and the quality of customer; networks and affiliates introduced new tools and procedures to ensure financial providers continued to promote through the affiliate channel.
It can be argued that a combination of the economic downturn and the increase in savvy internet users contributed to the sector almost returning full circle to an over reliance on cashback and incentive affiliates, but one could argue that the improved validation processes, advances in fraud checks and clearer messaging provided by networks and affiliates has led financial providers to feel more confident in advertising through this channel.
Since the recession another argument has emerged within the finance sector that; “content is dead” as providers are gradually becoming more dependent on aggregators and the cashback sites to deliver their high internal targets.
General insurance (GI) products have certainly seen a decline in the existence of content affiliates as their product culture is dominated by a “switching” mentality, which encourages the consumer to compare and search for the best kind of deal. These types of affiliates will continually attract deal savvy, switching customers but debatably won’t deliver a long term value of customer.
In a saturated market like insurance it is incredibly hard for the smaller, content affiliates to make any inroads into delivering more sales as they are unable to invest back into an already very expensive PPC market, or any other developments, due to a low return of investment.
A Deadly Catch 22
Does a client try and reengage with the smaller affiliates and help them to provide incremental volume or do they persist with those that are proven volume drivers perhaps resulting in the death of content?
This argument is not as clear cut as it seems though as content affiliates continue to thrive on other financial products like savings, ISA (though these are relatively seasonal), credit cards, personal loans and current accounts.
There is inevitably an element of deal shopping with these products too but it seems that, due to their complexity, consumers will research these products more thoroughly in order to gain a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. This consequently leads the consumer to content driven sites for advice and education rather than the deal or cashback orientated affiliates.
This trend is set to continue as long as the culture of the products remains the same. When savings accounts and personal loans become as “household” as switching your car or home insurance then content will again start to feel the stale breath of the reaper on the back of their necks. Until that day though, the aggregators and the cashbacks can put their flag in the heart of the GI products but there is plenty more of the financial empire out there for content to claim.
Account Director, Digital Window