Nov 30, 2000
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A bumper-sized Case Study for you this issue – we know how you love them!! We spoke again to Sam Dias, Brand Economic Consultant for Brand Finance, this time about Moneyextra...
Through its consumer brand Moneyextra, The Exchange Holdings PLC was one of the first companies to provide comparative information on finance products on the Internet for the UK market. But, while they had floated on August 13th 1999 with a share price of £2.09 (and been heavily over-subscribed to boot), and achieved a rate of 95,000 visitors per month by the end of September (18% above target), things weren’t all fab and swinging. Although advertising was having a considerable effect on visitor numbers, it appeared to be doing diddlysquat for brand awareness – spontaneous AND prompted awareness of Moneyextra at the time was zero. Furthermore, the results of surveys being conducted were not promising – many people that Moneyextra talked to thought the company would be of little use to them, or had only a vague awareness that they could be “doing better” with their money. And by October, the share price had fallen to below £1.50...
Moneyextra had set themselves testing targets - 140,000 visitors per month by the end of November (representing a 47% increase on October numbers), for example. They also wanted to ensure that their advertising revenue grew in line with site visitors. In order to minimise the effect of the anticipated Christmas fall-off, and continue their growth into the New Year, they decided they would have to raise both awareness AND understanding very quickly.
PARTNERS: Moneyextra appointed two agencies to come up with a killer campaign – BMP were chosen for offline activities, and Profero for online. Between them, these agencies identified a number of problems with Moneyextra’s previous advertising. Crucially, says Brand Finance’s Sam Dias:
- Over three quarters of the advertising made for end-users had been placed in business newspapers, investor magazines or the financial pages of daily newspapers. Moneyextra’s target audience, given their lack of interest in personal finance, may not have seen much of this.
- Most of the previous creative was not specific to any product area, but covered financial products in general. Again, given the general consumer inertia in this area, this would have been unlikely to prompt much of a response.
- Furthermore, dot-com advertising, which had gone “absolutely barmy” at the time, was reported to be turning consumers off big time, and the market was becoming more and more cluttered with similar products from other brands.
Given that visitor numbers were central to all of Moneyextra’s respective revenue streams, it was felt that the new campaign should focus much more on the end user. It should also describe much more clearly what the company actually DID, and concentrate on specific product groups. And, very importantly, it needed to reach a much broader audience at times when they weren’t ACTIVELY LOOKING for financial information.
A new advertising strategy was agreed, and Moneyextra came up with a creative brief. “Dramatise how Moneyextra enables people to compare costs of finance products, but focus on mortgage, loan and savings comparisons,” it said. The tone of voice it required was “populist, straight-talking, and provocative”. This, it was felt, would cut through the clutter, and begin to develop the company’s brand proposition. Says Sam Dias, “we wanted Moneyextra to be seen as challenging the normal conventions of finance – ‘the people’s champion’, if you like”.
The creative idea was developed quickly, since advertising needed to begin in the first week of November – it tapped, quite deliberately, into the idea of ‘rip-off Britain’. This was a hot issue at the time – there was an awful lot of negative feeling towards the industry, what with high bank charges, hard selling and, in the cases of endowment mortgages and personal pensions, high-profile mis-selling scandals. “It was clear that advertising that picked up on this would strike a chord,” says Sam. “It would be exactly what Moneyextra needed for people to take notice of them.”
Mass offline media, as well as online media, were employed for the campaign. While television would have been a prime aid to the establishment of a new brand in a cluttered category, there wasn’t time to produce TV ads. Radio advertising, however, had a good many things in its favour – in particular, it could be broadcasted at times when it was most likely to reach the target audience (i.e. on weekday mornings, just before they left for work). It also allowed for short, punchy ads that fitted in well with the creative brief:
“[in voice over] Next time you’re told by a bank or building society that their mortgage rate is the best on the market, compare it with the competition by logging on to Moneyextra.com. If they’re not telling the truth, phone back and say ‘Liar, liar, your pants are on fire!’. Get your money’s worth with Moneyextra.com.”
In addition, poster ads were placed at outdoor sites that would reach the target audience on its way to and from work. Eye-catching for their use of large block capitals in bright, contrasting colours (and no pictures), the posters were equally provocative: “WHICH BANKS ARE PIGGIES?” asked one, “GAZUMP YOUR MORTGAGE LENDER,” suggested another. A 30 x 14 metre “mega-site” poster on the Cromwell Road in London asked, appropriately enough, “WELL ENDOWED?” The tag line, “Get your money’s worth at Moneyextra.com,” was prominently displayed on all posters.
A four-day promotion was also run on the concourses of key commuter stations in London to draw the campaign to the attention of City analysts and investors. 50,000 copies of the Moneyextra magazine were given away, and fortune cookies (with the embedded message “In matters of finance, be ever wise and watchful – get your money’s worth at Moneyextra.com”) were handed out.
Profero’s online campaign stressed the comparison functionality of the Moneyextra.com site. In one of the largest online campaigns that had been run in the UK, banners were placed on sites that complemented the comparative searches offered at Moneyextra.com – “Compare credit cards online,” said the banner placed on travel and shopping sites, for instance, and “Your home for mortgage comparisons,” the one on property sites. People were targeted via specific channels on high volume ISPs and search engines, and Moneyextra kept up a presence on financial sites. “Online activity was subject to very close scrutiny,” says Sam Dias, “and at the slightest sign of a drop in daily clickthrough rate, either the site or the ad was changed that very day.” Consequently, in excess of 100 online creative executions and resizes were completed.
The November target of 140,000 visitors was exceeded by 15,000 (an increase over October of 63%). Despite the anticipated fall off over Christmas, the company’s February target was beaten by 20,000 visitors. By the end of February, Moneyextra’s revenue from advertising had increased to three times what it had been in the previous October before the BMP/Profero campaign began, “particularly pleasing,” says Sam, “because it had been static for some time.” The share price at the end of this period had increased significantly to £2.20, and general awareness of the brand (spontaneous and prompted) was found to have grown dramatically.
Econometric modelling throughout the period showed that these trends were indeed the result of the campaign in question – the very day the offline campaign broke, for instance, visitor numbers leapt by 30%, and greater numbers of enquiries were made about the financial products featured directly in the ads (as opposed to those that were not).
A total of £1.5m was spent on the campaign. Moneyextra were “delighted” with what BMP and Profero were able to achieve with this sum. “We were really pleased with the results we got,” says Marketing Director Derick Hill. “The number of phone calls we received in the first couple of weeks from the back seats of taxis was incredible!”
Summarising the whole campaign, Paul Shearman of BMP states that, “there are two types of company on the Net – the quick, like Moneyextra, and the dead. You probably can’t think of any of the dead. And that’s the whole point.”