Using Cookieless Attribution to Sidestep Comparison Site Cannibalisation for Financial Services 

In what is an increasingly competitive landscape Financial Services marketers are continually looking to increase their audience reach, with the use of Price Comparison Websites being a common theme. But comparison site cannibalisation is eating away at their existing advertising and activity, causing marketers to pay out twice for the same customer, further driving up already eye-watering CPAs.

These sites have many benefits, including opening up new customer segments and the ability to personalise advertising based on user profile data. However, the flip side is that comparison site cannibalisation can effect your existing direct activity too.  

Here we consider:   

What is Price Comparison Website Cannibalisation?  

Price Comparison Websites (PCWs) have grown in popularity over the years and have benefits for consumers and product providers alike – as they look to connect cost-conscious buyers with providers looking to push product.  

In the Financial Services industry there are some dominant players, for example GlobalData stats indicate that CompareTheMarket has an incredible 54% of the motor insurance market, reach that is well ahead of the competition.  

Tapping into this has several benefits for Financial Services brands including: 

  • providing the ability to ramp up audience reach and hit consumers that their marketing might not typically reach  
  • delivering the flexibility to scale activity in a time-sensitive way to promote very specific products at times in-campaign where certain product categories need a boost 
  • opening up the potential for selling adjacent products e.g. selling home insurance and then adding car and pet insurance over time to the same customer 
  • in a market where consumers are increasingly demanding personalisation PCWs offer the flexibility to personalise marketing using their centrally collected bank of data gathered from prospects  

However, one of the big drawbacks in the model is that PCWs also pose the risk of cannibalising revenues from existing ad activity – and taking credit for sales to customers that are likely to have come through the door anyway.

Traditional, cookie-based analytics packages make it difficult to unravel the jigsaw puzzle in this respect, completely devoid of the ability to cross complex and cross-device customer journeys.  

Why PCW Cannibalisation Matters in Financial Services  

Leaving aside the fact that cannibalisation can confuse potential customers (due to mixed messages around proposition) here are some of the other key issues around it: 

Cannibalisation can impact businesses that would have converted anyway 

The million-dollar question for brands, as they commit budget to a combination of ‘direct to consumer’ advertising alongside pushes for the same products on PCWs, is how many of the customers you are reaching there are really net new? And how many of them would have come to you anyway via your own marketing efforts?

The reality is that it makes no sense whatsoever to spend on direct media channels, to get customers to the point of conversion, and then pay again (in fees to PCWs) as they come in via that channel right at the end of the journey.    

What you really need is a unified view of the customer journey and Financial Services marketers are struggling to get that. 

Cannibalisation is a waste of budget  

It stands to reason that cannibalisation results in sub-optimisation of your spend and is a waste of budget.  

In a marketing environment where Financial Services marketers are already struggling with issues of advertising waste (according to estimates an incredible 41% of digital ad spend is being wasted with issues ranging from non-human traffic to non-viewability) and the rise in MFA sites – which now account for upwards of 20% of ad auctions – removing the impact of cannibalisation caused by PCWs is a key priority for marketers using them. 

In addition to the waste issue, cannibalisation can also drive up advertising costs as both sides (client and PCW) compete for the same space. Driving overall CPA costs up and profitability down on the same segments of business. 

Increased ROAS doesn’t always mean increased ROI 

It also worth pointing out that a holistic view of the success, or otherwise, of a Financial Services advertising strategy is key when evaluating the revenue impact of your campaigns.  

For example, creating a calculation in isolation for your PCW activity and giving financial credit for increases in ROAS for additional credit card or insurance sales is all good and well. But if your own Paid Search team are making the same calculation the other side of the fence – very often valuing alternative touchpoints along the same customer journey completely differently– then you have a problem.  

This is why the only real answer, to drive true ROI across all of your activity, is to create a single, unified view of the customer journey that you can attribute – and measure the true impact of PCW and other spend effectively against.   

Which is where the need for a single view of the entire customer journey comes in. 

Why a unified customer journey is needed to uncover cannibalisation


At a fundamental level, the priority for Financial Services marketers – who are worried about the impact of PCW cannibalisation is to get a single, trusted and unified view of the customer journey. And the evidence is that many marketers are struggling to get this. 

In fact, our own research indicates that 60% of marketing decision-makers believe that data to support cross-channel decision-making is broken. 

Customer journeys for individuals buying Financial Services products are increasingly complex. Taking place across a wide range of devices (from mobiles to tablet and desktop) and channels, including PCWs.  

To be effective, Financial Services marketers need to be able to accurately value ALL touchpoints on the customer journey. The problem is that many traditional standard and cookie based analytics solutions like GA and Adobe will naturally favour touchpoints at the end of the customer journey – due to limitations in tracking. 

Take the simple example of a user who sees a direct paid social brand advert for your home insurance, clicks through to your website but doesn’t buy and then interacts with a range of media (including your content in an organic web search), display adverts and retargeting ads before converting using an affiliate code on a PCW as the last step of the journey.  

Cookie based measurement and last-click attribution is going to tell you that the PCW activity is 100% responsible for conversion – but the truth is clearly much more nuanced than that! 

What is really needed is unified attribution, that strips out the cannibalisation in your PCW strategy by measuring the true incrementality of each and every touchpoint across the customer journey.  

How to cut out PCW cannibalisation using cookieless attribution 

One of the big issues for Financial Services marketers looking to quantify the impact of their PCW activity, while using cookie-based analytics and attribution tools like GA and Adobe, is the poor job they do of tracking conversion.  

Cookieless solutions, like our own Corvidae AI driven attribution platform, are able to take cookies out of the equation by using AI and machine learning to identify much longer customer journeys for attribution purposes. Consider the example below – the cookie-based solution (lower part of the diagram) is not able to track the user as they switch devices and user agents. Which means, crucially, that important touchpoints early in the journey get disconnected from the conversion (and the cookie-based solution over values lower funnel touchpoints).   

On the other hand, Corvidae is able to effectively rebuild the broken data (which is generated by solutions like GA and Adobe) and stitch together customer journeys  that can be more than 3 times longer – and that identify the crucial role that higher funnel touchpoints have on conversion (including giving you a clear picture of what your PCW channel activity is really doing for your revenues). And, at the same time, opening up a world of opportunity in terms of significantly lower CPAs due to the less competitive auctions taking place at that end of the funnel.  

This allows you to really drill down into the true performance of all channels including PCWs.   

In the client example above, Corvidae established that the affiliate channel (in this case one of the largest PCWs) was cannibalistic. By being able to analyse the entire customer journey it was possible to see that customers were only really going to the PCW towards the very end of the conversion path (probably for final pricing comparison) and taking more credit than they deserved for influencing the sale.  

Using the data it was possible to establish that revenue from the PCW was being overvalued by over 50%. As well as uncovering that:  

  • There was huge over-reporting in Paid Social – which was actually £80k, way lower than the inflated £248k being reported by Facebook analytics data 
  • generic search terms contribute three times more revenue than they are reporting in Google Ads 

Need to see the true impact of your PCW activity? 

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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