How cookieless attribution can change the game for financial services marketers

As financial services marketers grapple with a range of issues including the need to drive acquisition, increasing privacy demands, the requirement to unravel increasingly complex journeys and rising levels of advertising CPAs they are also being constrained by limitations around marketing measurement. 

However, cookieless attribution offers them the chance to sidestep the issues traditionally associated with cookie-enabled analytics solutions.

Here we consider:  

5 pressing issues for financial services marketers

Here are some of the key issues that financial services marketers are facing right now: 

The need for effective acquisition to drive growth

It is fair to say that financial services marketers are on the front foot when it comes to the need to drive effective acquisition

For example, according to the Digital Banking Report from November 2023 a resounding 40% of financial executives indicated that acquiring new customers was the number 1 priority for their business. Well ahead of their next most important priorities around customer engagement and creating compelling customer experiences.

What’s more, that acquisition demand is being placed squarely on the shoulders of financial services marketers. 

Ensuring privacy and regulatory compliance 

Because of its nature, the financial services industry is one of the most heavily regulated sectors in the market. 

Stringent rules dictate how financial services products are developed and delivered to the market. But there is also a new era of privacy which has been ushered in – that has seen both individuals and privacy campaigners clamouring for more control over how personal data is collected and managed by marketers. 

In this privacy-centric world, this means that financial services marketers need to have things like GDPR and consent to target firmly nailed down in their drive for audience reach and growth.

Cannibalisation of revenues (from channel disintermediation)

In their drive for growth and audience reach, many financial brands have opted to sell their products through affiliate channels – like, for example, comparethemarket.com, where people are quickly and easily able to compare a range of products from various financial service providers all in one place. 

This approach can make sense in terms of broadening access to the market – and can have cost and efficiency benefits from a marketing perspective – but you can only truly achieve that if you are able to unravel the complexity of what are increasingly complex customer journeys. 

The key here is to be able to strip out affiliate spend and activity that is cannibalistic. But to do that you need a unified view of the customer journey that shows the true impact of affiliate activity and many marketers are struggling to get that view with existing analytics solutions. 

Inability to unravel the impact of omnichannel marketing

The days of financial services marketers operating through a small number of channels like TV and direct mail (big favourites in the 80’s and early 90’s) are well and truly over. 

The sector makes up over 14% of all online advertising spend, which is more than almost any other industry. And financial services purchases have gone well and truly digital with 90% of loan and mortgage purchases starting with a web search. However, that is only the start of a journey that can be influenced by a range of touchpoints including paid and organic media, email marketing, on page ads and call centre interactions. 

Unravelling the full impact of advertising on the customer journey is the challenge facing financial services marketers. 

The never ending rise of CPAs

Financial services keywords and ad placements are by their very nature expensive. 

Cost per click on channels like Google can be anywhere north of £40 per click (and much more in our experience), however, they have been on an upward trajectory in recent times. This is happening for a number of reasons, ranging from increased competition for limited space – as new entrants enter the financial services market – to existing competitors spending increasing amounts of budget on channels like Google and Facebook as they try to mitigate the impact of market changes like iOS14.5 and also try and lock other brands out of the space. 

Challenges around effective attribution in financial services

At a more granular level, marketers in financial services are also facing some very specific challenges around effective measurement and attribution as follows: 

Many financial services marketers are being held back by the poor quality of attribution from cookie-enabled solutions like GA and Adobe

These solutions do a particularly poor job of attribution due to limitations in the cookie-based tracking approach they use which is rendered incapable when the user changes device or user agent. Take the example below:  

In this case, as the user switches devices important touchpoints that have impacted the sale are disconnected from the conversion. And the impact of this is significant. Not only does it result in lower funnel touchpoints like Paid Search being hugely overvalued for conversion it also has the side effect of driving up CPAs (something that partly explains the rise in CPAs we highlighted earlier). 

And this limitation has practical implications for data quality – and means that data is  effectively ‘broken’ in the cookie-based approach. 

The impact of data silos and reduced trust in AdTech data 

One of the side-effects of the explosion in digital advertising has been the increase in data silos – as financial services ad spend has piled into platforms that often have their own measurement systems in place. 

For many financial services brands this has meant heavy advertising investment in Meta Advertising (Facebook, Instagram etc) and Google Ads – with these two platforms alone accounting for an incredible 57% of spend according to Statista. The problem is that this has only served to exacerbate the data silo issue that existed beforehand. 

Research by Experian suggests that less than 30% of marketers work within fully integrated teams. With attribution carried out on a ‘per-channel’ basis with all of the potential for bias and double counting that brings. Adding in the fact that well over 57% of spend is now going into channels that are effectively marking their own analytics homework, this has simply thrown more fuel on the fire. 

Our own research also indicates that a huge percentage of marketers are now struggling to tie up what the analytics reporting on the big platforms is telling them with in-house analytics – with 80% saying they are concerned about AdTech bias. 

Source: QueryClick

So, we have been talking about the ineffectiveness of cookies, and the elephant in the room is Google’s decision to end the use of third-party cookies in Chrome. 

It is a process that, in true Google fashion, has been subject to delay, and, in many ways, Google’s most recent decision to delay the deadline to 2025 is a bit of a red herring. The reality is that third party cookies ARE going away and financial services marketers have already been looking for ways to insulate themselves themselves from these delays by moving to cookieless attribution solutions

It makes sense for a number of reasons: 

  • Firstly, as we have pointed out above, they do a particularly poor job of tracking complex, multidevice customer journeys 
  • But secondly, somewhere between 40% and 50% of the internet advertising inventory is already cookieless so it makes sense that attribution solutions follow suit 

The response to Google’s cookie replacement solutions as part of its Privacy Sandbox have been muted, and they have become mired in the live investigation by the CMA (Competition and Markets Authority) in the UK, which has left many financial services marketers looking to futureproof their attribution with cookieless alternatives. 

3 reasons to adopt cookieless attribution in financial services

Here are 3 reasons for financial services marketers to go cookieless and futureproof their measurement approach.

See true customer journey paths and reduce CPAs by 34%

Cookieless attribution enables financial services marketers to make the limitations of cookie-enabled solutions a thing of the past, utilising AI and Machine Learning to effectively rebuild broken marketing data and uncover customer journeys that can be 3 times longer. 

Take our example from earlier:

By using the rebuilt marketing data it is possible for our cookieless solution to identify touchpoints further up the funnel that have contributed to conversion. 

This enables financial service marketers to effectively move up the funnel and identify lower-cost CPA opportunities (because there is less competition for advertising space there). 

This is the approach we took with a leading American multinational financial services corporation who used our Corvidae cookieless attribution platform to reduce Cost Per Registration by 34%.

Remove AdTech data bias from your measurement

With cookieless attribution, you are able to take the guesswork out of reconciling your AdTech reporting data – by taking a unified approach to assessing the true performance of your social campaigns. Minus the limitations of cookie-enabled measurement and reporting bias. 

Take the client example below where cookieless attribution was used to identify that: 

  • Facebook was reporting 68% more revenue than was attributed by our non-cookie based solution
  • By reallocating 34% of sub-optimal spend it would generate an additional £1.6m in revenue

Source: Corvidae cookieless solution reporting. 

Harness predictive analytics and drive ROI

Financial services marketers can also leverage the benefits of cookieless attribution by using rebuilt marketing data and longer customer journeys, to identify true incrementality in your data, and to optimise spend and ROI. 

Take the client example below where we used the Corvidae platform to assess the true impact of existing spend on Facebook campaigns.

Source: Corvidae reporting

The highlights? 

  • Paid Social – the impact of Paid Social revenue is being over-reported by Facebook reporting revenue (due to cookie-based measurement) at £248k when the figure as shown by AI-driven attribution in Corvidae is £80k
  • Affiliates – can be effective sometimes, but in this particular example, they’re cannibalistic. So, they were always coming in towards the end of the conversion path. Taking more credit than they deserved for influencing the sale. 
  • Search – generic search terms contribute three times more revenue than they are reporting in Google Ads.

Need to explore the power of cookieless?

Why not request a demo of Corvidae with one of our experts today and discuss how you can transform your financial services marketing right now. 

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