Social media advertising for credit unions has changed quite a bit over the past few years. Finding and converting your target audience on Facebook or Instagram at one point felt akin to shooting fish in a barrel; not only could advertisers tap into the demographic attributes and on-platform interests and behaviors provided directly by users, but Facebook’s partnerships with third-party data providers allowed advertisers even more opportunities to target exactly the right person with the right message.
All we, as advertisers, had to do was simply define the attributes most relevant to our target audience and let the platform do the rest!
Of course, it was too good to be true. In the face of growing privacy concerns, Facebook ended its relationships with third-party data providers and created the “Special Ad Category” policy, which had a nearly immediate impact on financial institutions advertising on the platform.
Intended to prevent discrimination, the policy states any advertiser promoting products related to credit, housing, or employment opportunities needs to mark their ads as such, which severely limits the availability of many targeting attributes.
In addition, the impact of Apple’s iOS 14 changes has also affected who advertisers can reach on mobile devices. All apps within the Apple App Store will be required to utilize AppTrackingTransparency (ATT), which requests users’ consent to track their data and actions across apps and websites.
In other words, Apple now requires all apps in their App Store to allow users to opt-out of tracking and data collection. This limits our ability to target folks based on their interests and behaviors while using mobile device apps.
So, what does this mean for credit unions who still want to utilize social media advertising?
Utilize Interest-based Targeting Attributes
Facebook still allows advertisers using the Special Ad Category to target folks who have shown interest in specific financial products, like “home equity loan”, “home equity line of credit”, “credit card balance transfer”, “first-time home buyer”, and more. Leverage placement targeting and creative design that will speak to your target audience.
For example, an ad run exclusively in Instagram Stories featuring fun, animated creative and using images/videos of Gen Z or Millennial-aged folks will be much more compelling for a younger demographic. We run campaigns this way for credit unions that partner with universities to target incoming students.
The inverse is also true; when we ran a credit card campaign promoting a travel rewards offer, excluding Instagram led to 75% reach in 25 to 54-year-olds, our target audience for this campaign.
Leverage First-party Data for Targeting
Facebook allows advertisers to upload their own lists of first-party data (email addresses, phone numbers, etc.) that can be matched with users’ data to find and target the exact people they want to reach. This is ideal for remarketing efforts to your current members, for improving share of wallet, or promoting a limited-time offer.
In this example, our credit union client used their own data to generate a list of folks who may be good candidates for a short-term line of credit. Essentially, they took the targeting into their own hands! Using this method, we generated 3 new accounts for just $200.
Custom audiences (like in the situation described above) can also be used to create lookalike audiences in which Facebook uses a source audience (your first-party data) to find people who behave (“look”) like them.
Facebook’s algorithm identifies common qualities within your source list, then filters a much larger audience to find the users who share those demographic, behavioral, or interest-related traits. As you may imagine, the higher quality the source audience, the greater chance the lookalike audience has of being successful.
Consider Diversifying on Other Platforms for Social Media Advertising
There are still many platforms that allow the use of demographic and third-party data in targeting, like Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Spotify, Pandora, and video streaming services.
While Google (who owns YouTube) also limits targeting options for financial institutions, Google-based campaigns are not nearly as impacted by iOS 14. Google's stack of first-party apps are considered in line with Apple's policy requirements, so they were able to avoid displaying the prompt asking for tracking permission.
As is the case with every digital advertising tactic, understanding your long-term goals, member lifetime value, and average cost-per-acquisition is vital in determining a comfortable budget for your campaigns. Starting out with a limited budget (even $10 per day!) on Facebook is okay - just make sure you regularly dive into your data to figure out what’s working and what could use some work.
Test audiences, test creative, test landing pages, test placements - collecting this level of detail will help you make better, data-driven decisions for your social media campaigns.
For more on digital advertising for credit unions, check out: The Most Effective Digital Strategies For Credit Union Advertising.