Five ways UAE banks can profit from digital advertising - Gulf Business
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Five ways UAE banks can profit from digital advertising

Five ways UAE banks can profit from digital advertising

Many ad campaigns get lost in the phenomenon known as “banner blindness”

The proliferation of user-friendly banking services on mobile and web platforms has led to less consumers visiting branches in person to conduct simple transactions. Hence, it makes sense that banks are spending millions of dollars on digital advertising to reach their target audiences.

With this in mind, it can be extremely frustrating when ad campaigns get lost in the phenomenon known as “banner blindness”. This occurs when website visitors consciously or subconsciously ignore banner ads or any other banner-like elements on a website. The term was first coined when Benway and Lane conducted a study on website usability.

Their research found that information provided through external ad banners and internal navigational banners on a webpage was being overlooked by users, despite the placement on the webpage. The study also identified that the tried and trusted practice of marketing via large, colourful and flashy banners was ineffective in capturing user attention. This issue has become worse over time, as the first banner ad on the internet had an impressive click-through rate of 44 per cent while today this has dropped down to a dismal 0.1 per cent.

All hope is not lost however, there still lies huge opportunities for financial institutions in the UAE to digitally connect with their customers. Now more than ever consumers in the country are highly active online, with 89 per cent of users accessing the internet on a daily basis. If companies want to leverage this to their benefit, it has to be done appropriately.

Here are five guidelines to ensure that businesses get the most return on investment on their advertising budget:

1. Don’t lose sight of the customer

To combat banner blindness, many websites and digital banking sites use tools that trick or force users to look at advertisements. These include pop-up messages, adverts that cover what the user is trying to see, or ads that automatically play sounds. These advertising methods can be effective in combatting banner blindness. However, it is likely that these techniques will also frustrate users which in turn will lead them to transfer their negative feelings towards the advertiser. This can result in a lower customer satisfaction score and can even cause them to avoid the website completely.

What we recommened instead is to take a tailored approach. Banks must not offer products to customers who are ineligible or who already subscribed to that product. Banks should deliver a message that is relevant for the user, e.g. a personalised offer that helps the customer to solve an actual financial problem. This allows customers to view adverts in a positive light and delivers actual value to them.

2. Utilise smart and attractive design principles

Banks should carefully layout their online marketing banners with the help of usability experts who can leverage appropriate design elements and images – such as human faces and eyes and certain colours – as it has been proven that these attract human attention. The smallest details in this regard can often have the biggest impact, for example CareLogger – a health app that allows users to keep track of diabetes – achieved a 34 per cent increase in conversion by simply altering the colour of their call-to-action button. Such insights can be used to help drive customer attention towards digital banking advertisements.

Another method to combat banner blindness is to make advertisements less banner-like. The more an advertisement resembles native online or mobile banking page content, the more users will look at it. To make this effect even more impactful, advertisements can be implemented in such a way that they seamlessly appear to be the part of the page section in which the user is performing their banking activity. For example, an eye-catching mockup of one of the bank’s debit or credit cards on the landing page.

3. Short and sweet

It’s also important to keep messages simple. Online and mobile banking customers read differently than when they are reading a book. When a customer visits the bank’s online or mobile banking, they have a certain goal they want to accomplish, such as checking an account balance or making a payment. Until they accomplish their goal or find what they are looking for, users do not read every sentence. Rather, they scan, looking for keywords. Your advertisement may only have a split second to convey its message and draw the user’s attention. Therefore, concise messages and images should be used that do not require any complex interpretation. More in-depth advertisements could be displayed when the user has accomplished his goal, such as at the end of successful sales processes, customer interactions, or payment process.

4. Offer interactive tools

The use of interactive tools to deliver marketing messages could prove extremely useful for banks. They are often more successful in gaining the customer’s attention than traditional banners. Interactive ads can educate customers about products, so try to incorporate quizzes, calculators, questionnaires and online chat services in online ads.

5. Use peer pressure to your advantage

Customers are more influenced by their friends than advertisements. Banks should reward customers for recommending products to their friends and family. Digital channels integrated with social media profiles can be a great tool for banks to launch and run such recommendation and incentive programmes. Digital banking applications can also provide satisfied customers with the facility to share messages and reviews on social media, especially at the end of a successful sales process or customer interaction.

Despite its emergence in today’s world, digital channels may not yet be the primary channel for revenue generation. Today, only 1.1 per cent of global banks’ sales are made through the mobile channel, and 9.2 per cent in the online channel.

However, with mobile penetration increasing on every continent, and over three billion internet users in the world, having a basic ‘first generation’ digital banking platform for customer transactions is no longer good enough. By addressing banner blindness and carefully understanding customer behaviour on digital banking, banks can attract customers’ attention with relevant marketing messages. This will be essential to turn digital banking into a strategic revenue- generating channel and help banks meet customers’ needs in an ever-increasing digital world.

Ahmed Khidhir is an expert solution consultant at Misys


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