BANK 2.0: Mobile AdServing or Mobile Offer Management?

With the massive activity in the mobile Ad space arena at the moment, I’m amazed that there is so little focus on this by Bank marketing teams.  It shows a level of ignorance that is staggering.

Citi Shopper - Is this what we really want from our bank?

There is some light at the end of the tunnel. This week Citi announced a new App-based mobile marketing platform, mainly built around the loyalty program for their cards division. But as BankInnovation’s JJ Hornblass points out, this retail shopping App doesn’t really give customers of Citi any real advantage over using an existing e-tailer like Amazon, BestBuy, or similar. Why? Mainly because it just isn’t different enough.

CitiShopper, as far as I can tell, doesn’t offer me extraordinary discounts with the retailers I’ve shopped with before, it doesn’t prioritize product based on my previous credit card usage, and while it gives me ‘rewards’ I get those anytime I use my card! If it told me where I could get ‘exclusive’ deals as a Citi customer, that would be a start. If it recommended the best retailers for products that I frequently purchase (evidenced by my past card usage) along with some loyalty bonus – that I could understand.

Apple and Google invest big time in m-Ad

iAd is Apple’s embedded platform within OS4 for driving mobile advertising from within Apps. They’ve taken a very cooperative approach with developers, offering developers back 60% of the Ad revenue taken from mobile click-thru. This seems to be paying off as, according to Steve Jobs during the iPhone4 launch, Apple has iAd commitments for 2010 totaling over $60 million already and they’re effectively in pre-launch mode. Apple tout iAd as a marriage between the emotion of TVCs and the interactivity of the internet, all on the mobile handset.

Google has taken a slightly different approach with its acquisition of Ad Mob. They are first and foremost focused on mobile search, with new techniques such as voice queries, photo product matching services and search (like Google Googles) and new search Ad formats like “Click-to-call”. It cost Google $750m to acquire AdMob, so you can be sure they believe in mobile marketing in a very big way.

FourSquare is becoming an interesting conceptual player in the retail space too. Already there are heaps of deals out there for 4sq mayors who get free Starbuck coffees, half-price deals and so forth at participating retailers and locations. Geo-location is an important part of the mobile advertising puzzle.

There’s an immediate opportunity here for banks with Blackberry, Android or iPhone Apps already deployed, and some fantastic future opportunities – but if you are a bank marketer proceed with extreme caution. As a bank you can choose to SPAM your customers with the offer of the month through your App – and you’ll ruin your chances for any productive mobile engagement with your customers from this point on, OR… you can engage them with targeted, relevant offers that turn a sales message into ‘service’.

Where to start?

Acquisition is the most difficult to be driven from an analytics perspective, but there is a way. For example, we may have customers who have taken a credit card, with us but have no savings or current/checking account. By looking at card history, purchases, payment history, etc. we can get a picture of potential needs. Maybe at certain times of the year they make certain big purchases that might be better funded by a lower-interest-rate credit facility, etc.

For cross-sell and up-sell, we already have all the information we need in the bank’s various systems, but we rarely use this information effectively. The issue is very much about learning from the data we have on customers to ensure we pitch the right offer to the right client at the right time.

The analytics should be looking for opportunities around the following categories of offer:

  1. Products that the customer has purchased before but currently does not have.
  2. Bundled product offerings
  3. Point-of-Impact solutions, that could help a customer right now based on an event or location trigger.
  4. Products that improve a customer’s life or aspirational products such as an ‘upgrade’.
  5. Alternative products that give the customer a better deal than your current solution.
  6. Pre-cognative offers, anticipating customers future needs.

As customers we rarely receive such well thought out offers. I have a spread of products with various financial institutions that could easily be consolidated with one or two institutions, but the fact is that often I make the choice on a product because of expediency and because my primary institution relationship is not anticipating my needs.

The three core competencies:

Mobile, Geo-Location Services, Social Media and Customer Analytics give me the ability to do so much more in respect to targeted offers for existing and potential customers. I see three forms of mobile marketing emerging in the near future as core competencies:

  1. Location-based ‘deals’ offered to customers particularly card-based usage deals
  2. Event or location triggered deals offered based on a specific event tied potentially to a location also, such as an arrival at an airport cross-correlated with a credit card purchas of an airline ticket for travel insurance. Think 4sq mayoral offers…
  3. Viral Mobile Social Media messages targeting individuals in social networks through access to key influencers who can on-send offers that benefit the groups as a whole

Whatever the case – mobile, targeted offer management is a core skill for banks today – one that is generally completely absent from bank marketing departments. How do you know if as a bank you are ready for mobile? If you are asking your agency to run a campaign from their own list or database or you are trying to retrofit your currently monthly campaign onto SMS, that’s a bad sign.

Start building an offer management capability today. Think point-of-impact and really start capitalizing on what you already should know from the Terrabytes of customer data you have on hand. Turn sales offers into great service!


  1. Business cliches and bromides come to mind, like “Learn to walk before you run,” and, “Go after the low-hanging fruit first.” Most financial institutions don’t even have the basics mastered. I’d recommend they concentrate on perfecting core competencies before pursuing exotic innovations that are way outside the comfortable familiarity of their traditional business model. Stuff like Citi’s Shopper initiative is likely to be nothing more than a big distraction for 99% of most financial institutions.

  2. Brett,

    you make many good points, especially for the BIG banks. However, there are over 10,000 small banks and credit unions in the USA alone. How are they going to accomplish this? You mention skill set. Let’s say a small FI has the skill set. Does their core provider provide easy access to all the necessary data? Actually, the questions is, does the core provider even understand that the vast amounts of data they are collecting can be mined to cross-sell and up-sell a FI’s customers?

    For the small institutions to keep pace, they are going to have to learn quick and innovate in a different manner then the big banks.

    For the rest of the FI’s, dig into that transactional and relationship data and learn.


  3. bank2book says:

    David (@dmgerbino) – Agree. I think community banks are going to have to look outside their own walls in respect to platform and delivery, however, there is an argument that they should know their customers even better than the big banks – data or no data.


    What are the basics, I guess is the question? I would argue that offer management rather than campaign of the month is a concept that banks should be moving towards as a basic competency. But agree that they shouldn’t distract us with stuff like CitiShopper :)


  4. You aren’t seriously asking me to define the basic core competencies of bank marketing are you?

Speak Your Mind