Financial Services and Smarter Marketing

by Sarah Pennells

Posted on 04-13-2018

We are delight­ed to con­tin­ue our series of con­ver­sa­tions between respect­ed blog­gers from a range of fields and experts from Adobe. These unique encoun­ters will offer insight into how end con­sumers feel about dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing, includ­ing how and when tar­get­ing is effec­tive, what makes for an appeal­ing cam­paign, and how mar­ket­ing affects whether these all-impor­tant influ­encers spread the word about spe­cif­ic prod­ucts and platforms.

Our fea­tured blog­ger for this quar­ter is Sarah Pen­nells (SP). Sarah set up in 2009, after becom­ing frus­trat­ed that none of the finan­cial infor­ma­tion online seemed to be writ­ten with women like her in mind. Savvy­Woman aims to help women become a lit­tle rich­er by help­ing them invest, save for their retire­ment and deal with bumps in the road, such as divorce and debt. As well as online con­tent, Savvy­Woman runs sem­i­nars and events aimed at demys­ti­fy­ing mon­ey and invest­ing. The site has been short­list­ed as num­ber five in The Times’ “Top 50 web­sites to save you money.”

Sarah is also an award-win­ning broad­cast­er and jour­nal­ist who reg­u­lar­ly appears on the BBC as a finan­cial expert. She’s writ­ten for a num­ber of mag­a­zines and news­pa­pers, includ­ing Styl­ist, Yours and Good Housekeeping.

She spoke to Phil Duffield (PD), Man­ag­ing Direc­tor, Ad Cloud EMEA. He over­sees the imple­men­ta­tion and growth of Ad Cloud across the EMEA markets.

SP: I’m Sarah Pen­nells and I’m a jour­nal­ist. I’m also the founder of a mon­ey web­site called, a site that’s aimed at women. I’m here at Adobe’s Lon­don offices tak­ing part in a series of inter­views where I talk to a num­ber of lead­ing names in the world of dig­i­tal marketing.

At the moment, I‘m joined by Phil Duffield and we’re going to be talk­ing about video advertising.

PD: I think what you’ll see is the smarter finan­cial insti­tu­tions will be doing more of that. The world is chang­ing. People’s per­cep­tions are chang­ing around who we want to bank with, who we want to use for our finan­cial needs.

And if you look at the indus­try we’re in from a video per­spec­tive, and also from a pro­gram­mat­ic per­spec­tive, direct response adver­tis­ing is not grow­ing as it used to and that’s down to many things. It’s down to the fact that peo­ple are tired of it, peo­ple are down­load­ing ad block­ers to block it, and just sick of being spammed with all these—

SP: It’s quan­ti­ty isn’t it? You just get so much of it now.

PD: Exact­ly, and I think the smarter insti­tu­tions are real­is­ing the mes­sage around being eth­i­cal, being very com­mu­ni­ty led, will dri­ve more con­sumers than it will just using direct response mechanisms.

SP: Some­times it feels a bit of a race to be the most com­mu­ni­ty focused and it’s got to be backed up by what they do behind the scenes. And not just hav­ing a mes­sage, because peo­ple are very cyn­i­cal about the sub­stance behind it, espe­cial­ly when it comes to banks, I think.

PD: Yes, I 100 per­cent agree. I think that being cyn­i­cal helps. We have to have that view when we’re choos­ing a finan­cial insti­tu­tion, but there are some great projects out there.

If you look at some of the stuff Bar­clays do, around their skills that they’re adver­tis­ing right now, that’s a real­ly smart way of using con­tent online to real­ly engage peo­ple about what you’re doing for the com­mu­ni­ty, etc.

SP: What about the chal­lenger banks and the fin­techs? To what extent are they mak­ing the tra­di­tion­al banks sit up and maybe rethink what they do and how they do it?

PD: I think they’ve had a huge impact. I think the chal­lenger brands and the fin­techs are what is dri­ving change in that indus­try specif­i­cal­ly. Banks and finan­cial insti­tu­tions are hav­ing to rethink their mes­sag­ing, their strat­e­gy, how they’re attract­ing cus­tomers, what it takes to attract cus­tomers, because I think people’s per­cep­tions have changed so much over the last prob­a­bly ten years around finan­cial insti­tu­tions. And we know why that is, because of all the tur­moil we’ve been through.

And as I said before, the smarter brands who utilise con­tent, who utilise mes­sag­ing that talks about eth­i­cal stuff, com­mu­ni­ty projects, stuff that’s going to help peo­ple as they move for­ward in their careers etc., that’s the brands that are going to be remem­bered and will dri­ve con­sumers because they’re being smarter. And we need to be smarter and we need to change the way that we view it.

SP: But there has to be a con­nec­tion between what they’re say­ing they’re doing in their engag­ing video and actu­al­ly how they treat their cus­tomers. Again, I was watch­ing anoth­er video the oth­er day and it had this sto­ry about the bank­ing staff. And some­thing about it grat­ed on me because I knew that recent­ly they’ve been in trou­ble for some bad cus­tomer service.

I thought, well you can pro­duce a real­ly good video that’s actu­al­ly quite engag­ing and watch­able, but if I go onto the review site, then that tells me a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent sto­ry about what you’re doing and how you do it.

PD: Yes. I think it’s per­cep­tion over real­i­ty and I think that’s a chal­lenge for any brand, whether it be a finan­cial insti­tu­tion or not. You can invest in some that are very high-end brands and then the cus­tomer ser­vice you’ll receive off the back of it is ter­ri­ble. But they have a job to do, and I think some of the brands have done a good job of chang­ing that per­cep­tion over the past five or ten years.

Oth­ers still have a long way to go because there’s a lot of press still and they have to man­age that press, and they can do that with content.

SP: Thanks very much Phil. Well, for more insights and to see our oth­er inter­views go to

Topics: Digital Transformation, challenger bank, digital marketing, fintech, UK, UK Exclusive, Digital EMEA