Using Display Ads To Drive Profitable Deposits

Digital Marketing

You have probably heard that digital display ads, those small billboards that pop up on mobile, social channels and websites are worthless. While they are some of the least effective advertising we do, since you are buying attention, bankers need to consider display ads for every marketing campaign. While we will talk about more effective techniques for driving deposits in our upcoming webinar at the end of the month (HERE), in this article we wanted to provide our data on digital display ads since they often have a role in any bank campaign.


When To Use Banner Ads in Bank Marketing


The two reasons to use banner ads are for: 1) a general branding campaign when you are not concerned with clicks and your placement is cheap enough to warrant general advertising; or, when you are marketing a specific product, 2) you have a very clear value proposition, and you have a clear call to action. Any marketing campaign should be treated like you would form an investment portfolio so bank marketers should look for the cheapest way to purchase attention and then form a diversified approach.


Display advertising has the advantage of casting a wide net and bringing new prospects into your sales funnel. Display ads can be used for first-time impressions to targeted prospects, or better, and our favorite, as remarketing ads targeted at prospects that have already been to your site, seen an email or have come to a landing page.


How To Combine Good Display Advertising With Good Banking


The beauty of digital marketing is that you can get immediate statistics on what is working and what is not.


The absolute best way to utilize banners is by advertising a juicy rate for a money market account. Post an ad today with a 3% overnight rate, a clear call to action to open a digital account in three minutes, and you will find success in advertising. Unfortunately, you will also find failure in banking as giving away a high rate is not only lazy marketing but its horrible banking unless your business model can support it. Increasing your cost of funds while taking on more rate-sensitive customers will end up training your employees and building a lower performing deposit base.


As a simple rule, market anything in your display ads BUT rate. If you don’t have a compelling aspect of to your account, then forget advertising and work on that. However, once you do have a compelling value proposition, then highlight each value point separately in a series of digital ads that link back to a customized landing page or to your website that has personalization.


What Drives A Good Display Ad? (Plus Benchmarks)


Below are two good examples. Both are visually interesting and well-designed, but the ad on the left doesn’t get across a clear value proposition and doesn’t have a particularly interesting graphic. The ad on the right, on the other hand, has the following best practice elements:


Well branded: We took the name of the East Coast community bank off, but their logo was on the bottom.


Single, Visually appealing graphic: If we don’t have an attractive graphic, we always default to a person in an interesting pose where you can see their eyes.


Clear headline: This bank is smartly marketing free ATM access nationwide, which in our testing, is one of the top factors for choosing a checking account.


Distinguishable call-to-action: While our guess that this bank would have done better by making the call to action a different color than the ad, the size and placement is good as the eye scans from the image to the “Un-fee” box, to the headline and then down to the action – exactly what you want the path to be.


When it comes to display ads, the rule of thumb is first your ad has to be good enough to grab attention; then you have three seconds to visually tell a story to have any hope of getting above a 0.50% click rate (our success benchmark for non-search display ads). Our average rate is closer to 0.10%, and we usually keep any ad that is performing above 0.20%.


Bank Display Ads

Size Matters


Small sized display ads rarely outperform for banks. We have found the following sizes work best and usually use each for any given campaign (in order): 300 x 600 (half page); 300 x 250 (medium rectangle); 336 x 280 (large rectangle); and 160 x 600 (wide skyscraper). Some banks report that 728 x 90 (leaderboard placed above high traffic content) works, but we note that it hasn’t worked for us.


Other Tips We Learned


Colors & Borders: Since most sites are white, we tend towards color backgrounds that have ADA compliant contrast, and have a border (2-pixels or more in width) to be safe as you can never be sure where your ad will be displayed. Use no more than three colors and for banking, you should know that blue is the color that attracts attention (and comfort) the most.


Text Size: Go big or go home. You want the largest text size possible to stand out with nothing smaller than 16-pixels.


Call-to-Action: Make your calls-to-action large and either dead center, after the main headline or bottom right (this is key on mobile since most users are right-handed and use their thumbs). No more than one call-to-action in an ad.


Animation: Simple animation using HTML5 is now all the rage. Animation catches the eye, so 10-second or less movement that loops two to three times works the best. The goal here should be to draw attention and then have the animation move the eye to the headline. Making the animation stop will help do this.


For inspiration, we keep this top performing display ad around to remind us to keep this simple, visually exciting and actionable:


Digital Ad




We are no expert marketers, and there are probably a million ways to do display advertising better than we have outlined. However, our tips below come from years of functional testing, which is something we recommend to all banks do to further the craft of bank marketing. Digital advertising changes every second of every day, so what worked last year may not work this year. Banks should continually test display advertising with every campaign in order to continually figure out what works.


Putting This Into Action – Free Webinar


For a good deposit campaign, digital ads will likely account for less than 3% of your traffic. However, display ads can be helpful for retargeting or to target certain prospects that fit the customer persona that you are going for. Make your ad adhere to the above best practices, and they will form the foundation for a solid deposit campaign.


While display ads are our least effective techniques, learn what is working for banks to drive deposit balances. We are hosting a free webinar next week to cover how to use modern digital methods to drive deposits. 


Register Now