Originally published on MarTech Series

Unique Ability to Reach the Financial Web Drives 64% YOY Revenue Growth in US in Q3 and Underscores its Role as a Key Revenue Stream for Publishers and In-Context Solution for Premium Brands

In an otherwise disruptive and challenging year in the publishing industry, Dianomi, the financial and business-focused native ad marketplace for premium brands and publishers, reported 58% revenue growth on a year over year basis, as well as an expanded roster of the world’s leading business and financial publishers as well as new brands. The company now serves more than 8.5 billion ads on 220 premium publications, reaching more than 340 million readers per month across the U.S., EMEA, and APAC.

“During the pandemic, we saw media consumption among the professional and business-minded audiences our publishers serve continue to grow and sustain,” said Rupert Hodson, CEO and co-founder of Dianomi. “Brands are seeing that our audiences seek out information to help them manage their businesses, their clients and their own portfolios, unlike the general population, which has experienced dips from news or election fatigue. They also appreciate being able to precisely connect with readers with relevant information about topics they’re actively leaning into, whether that’s more on asset classes like Gold or ETFs or on socially responsible or conservative investment strategies.”

Publishers who have joined or expanded their presence on the Dianomi platform include Dow Jones titles such as Barron’s, MarketWatch and The Wall Street Journal as well as The Washington Post, Kiplinger, The Times (of London), New York Magazine, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and TMX Money.

In addition, financial institutions and other premium brands who have begun working with Dianomi to better reach affluent, professional audiences include Aramco, FXCM and Schroders.

“Readers around the world are seeking out our trusted news, information and analysis to help them make their most important decisions in these uncertain times,” said Dan Shar, Chief Commercial Officer, Barron’s Group and GM, MarketWatch. “Our partnership with Dianomi centers around collaboration as we work together to think creatively about the best ways to provide maximum value to our readers.”

“Though most revenue channels were set back this year, Dianomi has been an outlier, growing monetization against all odds,” said Andy Price, Head of Revenue Operations US for Kiplinger’s parent, Dennis Publishing. “They have been a partner to us for almost a decade now, thanks to the impressive brands they work with and the quality of their content recommendation. Their reliable performance and commitment to quality standards have been invaluable, more than ever this year.”

“Dianomi has been a wonderful partner, consistently delivering advertising content that has exceeded our expectations and objectives,” said Kaja Szczechura, Head of Media Activation & Performance, Net Natives for NYU Stern School of Business.

“I have been using Dianomi’s native advertising services for a number of years, across different organisations and I’ve always been impressed with the reach and effectiveness of the platform. It’s also a real pleasure working with the team who are always willing to discuss different ways to target very niche audience groups,” said Caleb Culverwell, Senior Content Marketing Manager, Barclays Private Bank.

As brands look to reallocate ad budgets from social platforms and third-party, data-targeted display to more brand-safe environments, Dianomi rolled out a premium lifestyle vertical in H2 2020 to answer to advertiser demand for more premium, in-context and brand-safe solutions that operate at scale. Based on the same premise as its financial vertical, Dianomi’s lifestyle network is built on contextually relevant, premium publishers with cookieless targeting and charged on a performance basis. Dianomi has proven its ability to bring premium brands and publishers in the professional services and financial industries together and is building upon that expertise for lifestyle brands and publishers, starting initially with automotive, fashion, travel and hospitality verticals.

  • News & views

Are investors ready to put the difficulties of 2020 behind them? New data from Dianomi suggests that even before November’s market gains, investors’ appetite for news and analysis on leading asset classes was increasing at pace – and that investors were seeking out positive coverage.

Global stock markets rose sharply during the first half of November, as leading pharmaceutical companies announced positive news on potential vaccines for the Covid-19 virus. The gains reflect investors’ hopes that it may finally be possible to begin moving past the pandemic.

However, investors’ optimistic view of equity markets – and of other asset classes – appears to pre-date the vaccine announcements. Dianomi’s analysis of online financial coverage reveals that in October, investors consumed 17.2% more articles about equity markets than in September; even more impressively, consumption of fixed-income coverage was up by 22.9% in October.

Moreover, investors have in recent months been overwhelmingly opting to read neutral or positive coverage of these asset classes. By contrast, only a small proportion of articles consumed, both in fixed-income and in equities, could be characterised as negative, Dianomi’s analysis reveals. This represents a stark reversal since the summer, when the majority of coverage of these asset classes consumed by investors expressed negative sentiment.

In other words, Dianomi’s research suggests that not only are investors seeking out more coverage of leading asset classes, but also that in most cases they are looking for analysis where sentiment is positive, or at least neutral. Negative takes on fixed-income assets and stock markets have accounted for only a very small proportion of the content consumed in recent months.

The data reinforces the idea that investors are beginning to look through market volatility in search of opportunities – and that many investors are determined to capitalise on the potential upside for asset prices. In November, stockbroking platforms in the UK struggled to cope with the volumes of orders posted by investors as prices rose following the vaccine announcement.

November’s Presidential Election in the US may also be part of the picture, with political uncertainty in the world’s largest economy having worried investors for much of 2020. An end to that uncertainty – albeit with the potential for unlikely surprises with President Trump contesting the election outcome – may have boosted investors’ confidence.

Dianomi’s data certainly suggests investors have been shifting to a more upbeat view of the outlook for stocks and bonds. The aggregate sentiment of the stock market coverage consumed by investors was negative throughout July and August, Dianomi’s analysis shows, before turning positive in September, where it has since remained. In the fixed-income arena, aggregate sentiment remained positive over the summer – though only just – but moved sharply higher over the autumn months.

Investors’ consumption patterns when it comes to coverage of real estate and commodities also suggest a shift in sentiment. Overall consumption of content on these asset classes fell sharply during October, Dianomi’s data shows, but in both cases, investors have been seeking out more upbeat coverage. The proportion of articles that express negative sentiments has fallen sharply since the summer in the case of both real estate and commodities.

A move to a more positive outlook across asset classes may presage further gains to come on global markets with investors determined to capitalise on good news. For example, further positive announcements on Covid-19 vaccines and treatments – and a final determination of the Presidential race – offer potential for new market upside given the current sentiment of investors.

Investors appear minded to see the case for the upside. Indeed, October’s most-read article in Dianomi’s analysis underlines the point. MarketWatch’s story, headlined “Most investors now expect the US stock market to crash – why that’s good news”, is a classic example of looking for the positive takes during a potentially worrying time.

As investors plot their next move in financial markets that continue to be characterised by volatility and uncertainty, many are looking for different types of strategies and new opportunities. Asset managers able to help them rise to this challenge will reap the benefits, but analysis from Dianomi suggests understanding what investors want is not always straightforward.

Online coverage of commodities is a good example. Dianomi’s data suggests this was the only asset class for which investors’ appetite for online coverage was relatively higher during September: its share of impressions registered for articles on leading asset classes was up 12%. Commodities articles also score more highly on Dianomi’s Engagement Index – measuring the number of impressions per unique user – than those covering any other asset.

However, asset managers seem reluctant to provide investors with content on commodities. Dianomi’s analysis of content published by 20 leading asset managers last month shows that the proportion of this content focused on commodities fell compared to August; by contrast, asset managers dedicated an increasing share of their content to articles on equities, fixed income and real estate.

In fact, there is good reason to expect investors to be taking a keen interest in the commodities market. We have already seen the price of gold – still regarded by many as the ultimate safe-haven asset – spike higher this year. And as the global economy begins to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, optimism is rising about the prospects for a range of commodities. This recovery will depend on commodity-intensive infrastructure investment, many analysts suggest, with governments worldwide seeking to stimulate their economies by with a broad range of such projects, large small. China’s bounceback, for example, is being boosted in exactly this way.

In which case, investors’ appetite for commodities-related content makes perfect sense – and asset managers need to be providing this support. And to be fair, some managers clearly recognise this; significantly, Dianomi’s analysis shows that the sentiment of the commodity coverage that asset managers did publish last month was markedly more positive than their coverage of any other asset class.

Will we now see an increase in commodities content in the months ahead? Well, it’s interesting to note that in August, real estate was the asset class about which asset managers were most positive in their content; this was followed by a significant increase in the share of coverage they devoted to real estate during September. That experience may now be repeated with coverage of commodities.

More broadly, however, the challenge of identifying content that investors will want to consume remains demanding, particularly when the market landscape is changing so rapidly in the context of Covid-19.

Moreover, in recent weeks, asset managers appear to have become more anxious about the potential for Covid-19 to cause further disruption to financial markets and the global economy. Dianomi’s analysis shows that while the sentiment of asset managers’ articles covering Covid-19 changed markedly from May onwards – moving from being almost universally negative to broadly upbeat – September may have seen another shift. During much of last month, asset managers’ Covid-19 coverage was once again pessimistic.

This may reflect rising concern about the adverse impacts of a second wave of the pandemic, particularly in Europe, where case numbers have once again begun rising sharply. Further restrictions threaten additional economic damage – bad news for investors and for markets.

The change of tone underlines the difficulty asset managers now have in identifying the topics with which consumers of content will engage – and also in getting the tone of their coverage right. But anticipating investors’ appetite for particular types of content and support will be even more critical if volatility and uncertainty spike higher once again.

Originally written for The Financial Brand By Bill Streeter, Editor

Is Google knocking the legs out from under its own success story just as the pandemic reemphasized the importance of digital marketing? Or is it radically changing its role in digital marketing inclusion in reaction to social unrest?

Google posted a big change to its personalized advertising policies that is throwing a wrench into one of digital marketing’s biggest advantages — targeted ads. The search giant has long had policies in place barring ads targeting consumers based on identity, beliefs or sexuality, but this change drills to the core of what many financial institutions do with their digital campaigns: reach the person most likely to take out a loan or open an account with a highly relevant and timely message.

The new rules, which were set to take effect Oct. 19, 2020, prohibit ad targeting by gender, age, parental status, marital status or zip code. The change applies initially to three broad categories of products and services: Housing, Employment and Credit. According to a Google FAQ, the change applies to all ad formats (text, display, video) and all channels (search, display, video).

Facebook rolled out similar targeting restrictions in summer 2019 in response to a settlement with civil rights advocates who had alleged that the social media giant allowed ads to be targeted in a way that was discriminatory. That plus the social unrest that flared into a major and very public situation beginning in May 2020 may have been a factor in Google’s rule change.

“I believe Google has an underlying goal here to avoid any backlash from not being considered diverse, since they’re allowing marketers to run very targeted campaigns to people [who] fall into ‘buckets’,” says Michael Bertini, Senior Director, Search Strategy for iQuanti.

Ad targeting actually benefits consumers by putting a relevant message in front of them versus the usual noisy media clutter, points out Charlotte Boutz-Connell, Director of Client Experience, Strum. However, she also believes that “it’s vital to balance that benefit with equity and inclusion, and that’s what Google is hoping to accomplish with this change.

For digital marketers, this new rule change comes on top of the pending “cookie-pocalyse” — Google’s January 2020 announcement that it is phasing out use of third-party cookies over the next two years. Given that digital marketing has become even more critical for financial institutions since the pandemic arrived, these changes are unsettling.

“The biggest challenge here,” says James Robert Lay, Founder and CEO of the Digital Growth Institute, “is that each time an ad policy changes, so too must ad strategy change.”

With so many financial marketers stretched thin due to the demands of the COVID crisis, Lay finds that many end up overwhelmed.

Beyond that, the impact on bank and credit union marketing budgets and effectiveness could prove significant.

“Losing the ability to target ads has the potential to force financial brands to spend more to gain the same results,” Lay states. However, there are some potential plusses coming out of Google’s targeting restrictions, as well as alternatives that could ease the blow.

Are Marketers Prepared? If Not, What Happens?

It’s an open question as to how many bank and credit union marketers even know of Google’s new ad targeting rules. Marketers whose name appears in their institution’s Google Ads account would have received emails from Google about the change. Most, however, had to rely on their digital ad agency to notify them. In some cases the agency would simply have handled the change.

Either way, Google required a response. “Advertisers had to login to their Google Ads accounts and accept and acknowledge these policy changes,” explains Paul Evers, EVP and General Manager, Financial Services for Merkle. If they hadn’t, he adds, they will be unable to create any new campaigns until they do. In addition, after Oct. 19 (per Google), any existing campaigns covered by the changes will be disapproved and no longer be served.

“Just like with Facebook, these policy changes from Google make it crystal clear who has the power and control in the digital ad space,” Lay concludes, “and it is not banks and credit unions.”

How the Changes Impact Digital Ad Campaigns

The impact of Google’s targeting changes varies greatly. For instance, most current clients of FI Grow Solutions won’t see much change because the digital marketing firm primarily recommends PPC (pay per click) search advertising and doesn’t target based on age and gender. “We depend on our keyword research to ensure we are targeting the correct people,” explains Ida Burr, Digital Ads Manager.

Some financial institutions, however, do target their ads to specific zip codes, which is no longer allowed, according to Patrick Trayes, Senior Digital Strategist at ZAG Interactive. He points out that Google will still let brands geographically target by state, county, city and metro area.

For financial institutions that use Google’s In-Market audiences to target based on specific interests in, say, auto loans or savings, Trayes says that based on the new rules, such interest-based audiences can still be used, but not if they indicate gender, age, parental status or marital status. “Those audiences could still be added as Observation audiences to see how they perform within the campaign, but not as Targeting audiences where a user needs to be in that group to see the ad,” Trayes explains.

“Many financial institutions are looking for alternative methods to combat the loss of ROI from not being able to get as granular with their age targeting.”
— Michael Bertini, iQuanti

Michael Bertini, by contrast, believes many, if not most, banks and credit unions have specific ad campaigns that use the now-restricted factors to get in front of the ideal target audience. “They’re used by all brands I’ve ever consulted with, and rightfully so. They help you get to the most likely person to purchase your product, which maximizes ROI.”

“Take people looking for a home loan,” Bertini continues. “As a marketer, you’re looking to find what’s common among the people who get approved for these types of loans, and then you use those factors to show ads to more people like them; because they’re more likely to get approved and you get a better ROI.

“Let’s assume that people between the ages of 18 and 26 are less responsible with their loans, so you wouldn’t target them in a campaign,” Bertini suggests. Logically, he continues, “marketers would target a somewhat older group of consumers — such as new parents.”

Under the new rules, “all that changes,” says Bertini. “As a result, many financial institutions are looking for alternative targeting methods.

James Robert Lay, like Bertini, sees a large impact from the change. “The vast majority of financial brands are community-focused and have relied heavily on zip codes to strategically place and serve ads to people with proximity to a physical branch location within the community they live or work in,” he tells The Financial Brand. Further, Lay believes the Google change will negatively impact use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to review current account holder data to identify ideal accounts and to create remarketing lists to target the next best product.

The changes will bring to a halt the most advanced types of financial institution ads that target male and female consumers with both age and gender-specific messages, Lay maintains. For smaller financial institutions, Lay expects the changes could force them out of Google altogether, as the bottom line CPA (cost per acquisition) will no longer make sense for their growth strategy.

Along the same line, Rupert Hodson, CEO of Dianomi, a native advertising platform, states: “Given the highly regulated nature of the financial industry and how relatively conservative their marketing campaigns are as a result, [the Google targeting changes] may lead financial marketers to rethink their strategies.”

Long-Term Effects Also Come with Opportunities

While most of the digital marketing experts contacted agreed that the Google targeting restrictions would diminish ROI to varying degrees, several brought up counterbalancing points.

For example, ZAG Interactive’s Patrick Trayes observes that “Casting a broader net can expose your ads to a larger audience who may be in the market for your services, but who Google hasn’t accurately grouped into the audience you’re trying to target.”

At a broader level, Michael Bertini says marketers need to start building their own “walled garden.”

“You should broaden your view to how paid search and SEO [search engine optimization] can work together to drive more to your target audience,” he states. “Start by taking all your paid data, sitting down with your content teams and crafting a new content calendar based on all those paid insights you have. Then remarket to those people and keep sending them informational life-style content until they convert.”

“Email and SEO are about to enter their second golden age as digital ad challenges continue to increase.”
— James Robert Lay, Digital Growth Institute

That advice relates to a prediction by James Robert Lay that email and SEO are about to enter their second golden age as digital ad challenges continue to increase. Email, like ads, can be hyper-targeted, he points out.

“The biggest difference between email and digital ads is that email lists represent an asset the financial brand owns, while ads are leased on someone’s else digital real estate,” says Lay. “This is why email must now be viewed as a strategic asset. And the same is true for content.”

An overarching point raised by Strum’s Charlotte Boutz-Connell, is that the focus of what Google is seeking to promote through this particular change is diversity, equity and inclusion. These attributes are central to financial institution brands across the country, she maintains. “This is an important time for everybody to contribute to these efforts, and financial institutions have an important role in this work, not only as brands, but as employers.”

In addition, Boutz-Connell believes that to the extent that this change inspires financial marketers to try new things, it could be a driver of new and better approaches and performance ahead.

Lay agrees. “This environmental change creates an opportunity for financial brands and consumers to finally begin to collaborate together,” he states. “It is time for financial marketing, sales, and leadership teams to confidently commit to help first and sell second.” Lay firmly believes that the path forward for financial marketing teams is rooted in “transforming their marketing departments to operate more like a content/media brands.”

Originally published on ClickZ

Hear from our CEO, Rupert Hodson, on how marketers need to rethink success metrics and KPI’s in a post-third-party cookie landscape.

30-second summary:

  • We need to evolve our benchmarks, KPIs, and other success metrics to meet today’s standards and measure the new, first-party data-driven and contextual ecosystem.
  • While click-through rate (CTR) had its moment as the go-to metric marketers defined success by, it’s no longer able to accurately depict how well our ads are performing.
  • Since marketers are only paying for real visits with a CPC, it’s imperative that we’re analyzing data and ensuring we’re putting forth ads that will perform best and resonate with audiences, ultimately leading to site visit conversions.
  • While we don’t know what digital advertising looks like post-third-party data, brands and adtech companies will need to get creative and look at new strategies in order to reach consumers. However, how we’ll define and measure success in this new era has yet to be identified.

Under the new normal of COVID-19, marketers are under heightened scrutiny. Every penny allocated to each ad investment must be attributed to ROI. Distribution strategies are also being re-evaluated in a pressure cooker social environment (social platform boycotts e.g. Facebook and Twitter) and out of brand-safety concerns. As marketing teams look at ad investments more closely than ever before, it’s time to take a fresh look at usual measurement standards and adopt new yardsticks, especially with the impending elimination of third-party cookies.

We need to evolve our benchmarks, KPIs, and other success metrics to meet today’s standards and measure the new, first-party data-driven and contextual ecosystem.

While click-through rate (CTR) had its moment as the go-to metric marketers defined success by, it’s no longer able to accurately depict how well our ads are performing.

Is it time to say farewell to CTR?

While there has been chatter in the advertising industry to eliminate CTR, it’s still a metric that can shed viable insight into performance.

However, in the new post-third-party ecosystem, we need to look at campaigns more holistically to have a stronger understanding of how audiences are engaging with content.

With privacy concerns dominating the advertising agenda, major players like Google and Apple have made moves ensuring that consumers’ privacy is their main priority. It’s a chance for advertisers to recalibrate how we’re targeting and how we’re measuring a successful campaign.

CTR is less meaningful with a newfound emphasis on performance marketing

Marketers have always been results-driven, but with growth in performance based advertising and the ability for premium advertisers to reach their audiences with a cost-per-click (CPC) model, CTR as a benchmark becomes less meaningful when analyzing campaign success.

As marketers are keen on seeing the ROI of campaigns, advertisers should leverage A/B testing on ad content, readability, and creative.

Since marketers are only paying for real visits with a CPC, it’s imperative that we’re analyzing data and ensuring we’re putting forth ads that will perform best and resonate with audiences, ultimately leading to site visit conversions.

With the phase-out of third-party cookies looming, brands don’t have anything to lose when they are only paying for results across premium publishers.

Brands can measure outcomes more efficiently and in-depth by working on a CPC model. Bounce rate and CTR are only parts of the whole measurement and benchmark process.

Benchmarks for the third-party cookie-less ecosystem

While we don’t know what digital advertising looks like post-third-party data, brands and adtech companies will need to get creative and look at new strategies in order to reach consumers. However, how we’ll define and measure success in this new era has yet to be identified.

While CTR may have previously cut it for advertisers and marketers, old measurement tactics won’t stack up in the new landscape. Other metrics like bounce rate, visit duration, readability, and response time, haven’t typically been top of mind for executives.

These other benchmarks can fill the gaps of what your one or two KPIs aren’t showing.

For instance, bounce rates can indicate that content your showing consumers isn’t resonating, or how if visit durations are consistently short, the information consumers are looking for might not be accessible or easily seen, forcing them to venture off and find it elsewhere.

Furthermore, our benchmarks won’t be the same for all of our campaigns, especially when running with different publishers. Context has a great impact on performance and our benchmarks need to be adjusted accordingly.

While ad spend has seen an uptick in May and June, marketers are scrutinizing these investments and looking to see results and accurately measure ROI.

As we prepare for the new normal, as well as the phase out of third-party cookies, we need to define success differently – touting a strong CTR won’t be enough to ensure your ad dollars are secure.

Marketers need to continue emphasizing performance and ensuring that creative and messaging are resonating with audiences, so ad dollars aren’t wasted in the process. Widening our benchmarks and KPIs is how we can accurately look at campaigns and deem them successful.

Rupert Hodson is the CEO and Co-Founder of Dianomi, the financial and business-focused native ad marketplace for premium brands and publishers. Rupert is responsible for sales and business development at Dianomi as well as leading the company’s geographical expansion in both North America and APAC. Prior to founding Dianomi, Rupert spent five years at Interactive Investor heading the commercial team. He began his financial career in 1994 at Petropavlosk PLC.

Are investors losing patience with the flat conditions we continue to see from many world stock markets? While the US posted a strong month of returns in July – and is now in positive territory for the year as a whole – markets in Europe and Asia largely lagged behind, falling back in many cases. And data from Dianomi reveals that demand from investors for online asset classes on the leading asset classes also dipped significantly last month.

Looking across four major asset classes – equities, fixed income, real estate and commodities – Dianomi registered an 11% decrease in investors’ consumption of online financial content in July compared to June. This was the first time in four months that page impressions on the sites tracked by Dianomi fell back.

While some of the slippage may be accounted for by the summer season, the data also points to diminishing appetite for asset class-specific coverage amongst investors consuming online financial content. Such coverage accounted for 25% of the content consumed last month, compared to 29% in June.

The decline was most noticeable in investors’ consumption of equity-related content, which accounted for 18.5% of all the financial coverage consumed last month – compared to 22% in June. Investors accessed 16% less content on equities in July compared to the previous month.

This is a significant departure from the experience of the first half of the year, when the turmoil in the financial markets prompted investors to seek out equity-related content online. In particular, consumption of such content spiked higher in March, as equity markets fell sharply as the realities of the pandemic became apparent, and in June, as investors focused on the opportunities that recovery potentially offered.

However, with the recovery in markets outside of the US appearing to run out of steam over the summer months – and in July in particular – investors’ appetite for equity-related content has diminished. Both content focused on execution of investment – featuring key words such as trading or share dealing – and on market outlook fell last month.

Dianomi’s analysis does suggest investors are continuing to focus on individual opportunities that the pandemic might throw up. Significantly, consumption of equity-related content focused on biotech and healthcare continued to grow strongly in July, following a trend established in May and June. Investors continue to seek out potential winners from the pandemic in these sectors.

More broadly, however, equity-related content has been of less interest to investors over the past month. Instead, investors have been more inclined to seek out content on other asset classes.

Fixed income, in particular, saw a 15% increase in content consumption on the sites tracked by Dianomi in July. Though most fixed-income assets offer little in the way of yield during this ongoing period of remarkably low interest rates, bond markets have stabilised over the past three months, prompting positive returns amid interventions from central banks.

Investors’ growing appetite for fixed-income content last month may be a reflection of this stabilisation, with many continuing to seek safe-haven assets amid the uncertain outlook. The search for yield also remains a prominent theme.

Commodity-related content also saw increased consumption last month, with investors accessing 10% more coverage of this asset class than in June. The rising gold price, which hit a new all-time high in July, no doubt accounts for at least some of this increased interest. Gold’s status as a safe haven asset continues to attract attention in these turbulent times, with investors accessing almost three times as much content on the precious metal in July as in June – though consumption of oil-related coverage also more than doubled.

Investors will continue to need a broad range of financial content in the weeks and months ahead as they attempt to navigate a course through the unchartered waters of the pandemic. The day-to-day impact of Covid-19 on asset prices remains highly unpredictable and investors will need expert analysis and insight to help them interpret a fast-moving situation.

Dianomi’s analysis suggests that for now at least, investors are less focused on equity markets to the exclusion of other asset classes than they have been in recent months. Fixed-income assets and commodities have moved up the agenda against the current market backdrop. Responding to this shift will be crucial to give investors the support they so badly require.

Investors remain hungry for content.

More than three months into the Covid-19 pandemic in Western countries, investors are still searching for insight and expertise that might help them navigate a path through the volatility that the crisis has prompted. Data from Dianomi reveals surging interest in financial content online continued during June, as investors looked for support and advice.

Looking across four major asset classes – equities, fixed income, real estate and commodities – Dianomi registered a 24% increase in investors’ consumption of online financial content in June compared to May. Consumption is up by an average of 11% on January, before the Covid-19 crisis broke. Equity-related content accounts for around three-quarters of consumption on the sites tracked by Dianomi, with demand for coverage remaining high despite the relative calm that has descended on world stock markets in recent weeks. US stocks were almost completely flat during June, but investors are still consuming 12% more content on average than in January.

Moreover, while investors’ appetite for equity-related content has fallen back compared to the height of the crisis, their levels of engagement have continued to rise all year. Dianomi’s Engagement Index, which tracks reader engagement over time, has risen from 4.5 at the beginning of the year in equities to 5.5 last month. The data suggests that investors remain anxious about their stock market investments despite the more recent easing of market turbulence. While world stock markets have recovered some of the losses they sustained at the beginning of the pandemic, most remain well below their levels in the first quarter of the year. Dianomi’s analysis suggests the story is similar in other asset classes.

In fixed-income and bonds, for example, investors have continued to search out content in greater numbers, reflecting both the increased volatility of global bond markets and the difficulties of securing yield in the ongoing low interest rate environment. The US Federal Reserve kept interest rates at zero last month, but there has been increasing pressure in recent weeks for a move towards negative rates. This is one reason why investors are consuming 11% more fixed-income content each month than in January. Engagement with fixed-income content has also been maintained.

Interest in commodities has also been significant, with June’s Engagement Index score of 6.1 higher in this asset class than any others. Consumption is 9% up on average compared to January. In part, the interest in commodities in recent weeks will reflect the sustained increase in prices of many raw materials since the low points recorded in March and April. Investors also continue to seek out content on gold, the ultimate safe-haven asset.

Meanwhile, content on real estate is also in demand. While consumption of real estate content has grown less rapidly during the crisis – potentially reflecting reduced transaction volumes during the lockdown – the asset class is still recording an average of 4% more consumption each month compared to January. Amid the volatility on traded exchanges, investors continue to look to alternative asset classes for diversification and return opportunities.

At an aggregate level, Dianomi’s data suggests that the spike in demand for news, commentary and advice on financial markets registered at the beginning of the pandemic has been maintained. Indeed, in challenging markets – Dianomi analysis suggests 52% of all content last month had a negative tone – investors continue to need help. And with so much uncertainty continuing – and the Covid-19 virus far from under control in many markets – their appetite for insight remains elevated.

Originally published in AW360

With protest movements, a pandemic, and privacy regulations like CCPA kicking into effect – there’s never been a more urgent time to invest in (and defend) brand marketing. But marketers can move forward with meaningful, authentic measures and messages, delivered in the right way, and reap dividends immediately and potentially for many years to come.

Consumers are hyper-aware of how brands are positioning themselves (as well as noting their silence) amidst the current climate. Even business-forward brands are being held accountable by customers. Privacy regulations are forcing a course correction on many programmatic strategies, but tough economic circumstances mean every penny of marketing spend is being challenged, reduced, or eliminated – especially if it’s hard to attribute to a specific KPI. So how can marketers justify and defend the budget for brand-building?

Solution: find the right balance of brand and performance. Take those brand-building assets:  white papers, infographics, or e-books, and amplify them with native, contextual performance-based strategies. You’ll ensure your message and content appear in precisely the right context, in a quality environment and distributed at scale. Native campaigns can be a way to precisely deploy high-quality brand assets, distributed in the right environments.

As digital advertising moves beyond cookies and third-party data, native campaigns are the way to combine quality control, audience targeting and context that aren’t possible by relying solely on programmatic. The combination of brand and performance can be an exponentially powerful brand builder – especially as a means to market effectively in the COVID-19 era.

“As digital advertising moves beyond cookies and third-party data, native campaigns are the way to combine quality control, audience targeting and context that aren’t possible by relying solely on programmatic.”

The right context is key

The pandemic’s onset threw the world into an anything-but-business as a usual quagmire. The knee-jerk reaction for brands and advertisers was to quickly pull ads to avoid placements next to coronavirus-related content, leaving media publications hurting from ad revenue loss just as media consumption was at a high point. This was a huge missed opportunity for brands.

Rather than pulling ads altogether, smart brands pivoted to campaigns that would allow them to align creative to hit the right contextual note: some financial brands, for example, offered timely advice on shifting investment strategies to account for volatility.

Others, like location data company Unacast, provided pro-bono data to reinforce the importance of social distancing as a critical measure in fighting COVID-19. Brand loyalty is on the line across the industry – as we’re now seeing with the Stop Hate For Profit campaign against Facebook. Identifying the right content is the key first step, followed by the context in which it is delivered.

“The knee-jerk reaction for brands and advertisers was to quickly pull ads to avoid placements next to coronavirus-related content, leaving media publications hurting from ad revenue loss just as media consumption was at a high point.”

Performance and brand: not one versus the other

Regardless of the current climate’s dynamics, marketers are still under pressure to deliver immediate ROI. But without the right messaging, context, or format, performance-based tactics won’t provide any measurable value. Now is the time to reassess KPIs, marketing tactics and toolkit and consider adding different delivery methods and yardsticks, adding cost-per-click options to CPM based campaigns. Programmatic remains a foundational strategy to effectively target consumers. But with consumers paying closer attention to the posture, position and behavior behind a brand message, marketers need to prioritize methods that grant them more control. Native or sponsored content can be a smart supplement or option to automated tactics to ensure brand messages are hitting home in a safe, premium environment.

As early signs begin to point to recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, it’s carpe diem time for brands and advertisers to lean in — now — for success moving forward. Having a strong brand message and presence is not only critical to maintaining customer loyalty during this time but will also influence customer acquisition and retention. Leveraging the right performance-based tactics to catapult topical, engaging and authentic native content, in a premium context and in front of the right audience at precisely their moment of interest is a powerful way to augment campaign plans and deliver meaningful results.

Q&A with What’s New In Publishing: Dianomi, the native ad marketplace for professional services brands and B2B publishers

By WNIP2 days ago

Last modified on July 16th, 2020

Based in London, New York and Sydney, Dianomi is the native ad platform for the financial services, tech and corporate sectors, providing advertisers with access to a global audience of 200 million consumers. Despite volatility in ad spend during the pandemic, one exception has been a steady growth in financial brands spending on native advertising in premium outlets. WNIP caught up with Rupert Hodson, Co-Founder & CEO, Dianomi, to find out more…

What business problem is your company addressing?

Dianomi works with trusted publishers to monetize content through premium sponsored posts. While native advertising has received its share of criticism, with some people referring to it as ‘clickbait’, we approach sponsored content differently. Our focus from day one has been helping premium brands deliver native advertisements that people want to see in publications people want to read, honing in on the right audience and context.

We bridge the gap between advertiser and publisher, integrating advertising content with premium publication context, which ensures that no ads are served that aren’t relevant to a publication or reader.

Through our tech, every element of the communications mix is holistically optimised – audiences, advertising content, advertisement position, publication type, publication quality, delivery timing and delivery device work together.

What is your core product addressing this problem?

We’ve always prioritized premium campaign experiences and the best way to deliver that we believe is through native advertising with trusted partners on professionally curated content. Our cost-per-click model operates with complete transparency, scalability and all within a brand-safe environment.

Our marketplace connects 600 blue-chip financial brands — Prudential, Morgan Stanley, Chase and others — to a global audience of financially engaged consumers via 300+ of the world’s best-known business and finance publishers. Media properties for whom we drive revenue include The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Kiplinger and MSN. 

In terms of contextual targeting, we’ve identified 12 contextual audiences relevant for our advertising partners that allow for page-level targeting on our publishers’ sites. This level of granularity ensures advertisers are reaching the right audience without the reliance on third-party data, and at scale.

Can you give some examples of publishers successfully using your solution?

Aside from the publishers mentioned earlier, our roster includes Business Insider, VOX, Recode, Bloomberg, Fortune, and other premium business and financial publications.

Pricing?

Dianomi works on a cost per click (CPC) model, or cost per view for video advertisements.

What are other people doing in the space and why?

Because our marketplace is niche, with premium advertisers and publishers, we guarantee brand safety as well as ensure the content is shared with readers in a contextually relevant environment.

While there are others in the native advertising and contextual spaces, none have the reach or access to premium business and financial content in our vertical.

How do you view the future?

Over the years, through programmatic advertising, the ad ecosystem has moved from a targeting landscape that relied and worked on contextual relevance to one where advertisers were chasing audiences over the web through the use of third-party cookies. This led to major brand safety issues and fraud.

With CCPA now fully enforced and prominent, plus Google’s move to remove third-party cookies and playing catch up with Apple’s focus on data privacy, we are seeing a return to the simplicity and relevance of ad targeting based on context and focused on premium professionally curated content. Marketing does not have to be uber complicated to succeed. Quite the opposite.

Thank you.

Data has become critical in financial services marketing, especially as it relates to content marketing, according to Ed Nini, head of ETF Marketing at Principal Global Investors.

With the rise of content marketing, data has allowed firms to better understand and better assess which message connects with a particular audience and the next steps to undertake. It has allowed them to produce more personalized content that translates into actual sales.

“Data has changed the game,” said Nini. “Data has allowed us to target better. It has allowed us to understand the effectiveness of our content and overall marketing activities.”

He added that it also leads to better leads and sales engagement and that it helps connect the dots between marketing and sales.

“Having data helps us understand what is truly relevant and is truly engaging to a particular target audience,” he said. “Without that data, you’re throwing darts at the wall to determine what content sticks with that person,” which makes it more challenging to understand the cause and effect of a sale.

On a more granular level, data has shown that videos, especially short videos, as well as podcasts, have had a tremendous impact and effectiveness on target audiences. “Videos and podcasts are gaining more prominence in marketing strategies and being used as tactics that move the needle for marketing plans,” he explained. 

Nini predicts that going forward, the traditional intersection between marketing and sales in the B2B space will slowly disappear.

“Organizations will figure out a way for us to engage with a particular audience without human intervention,” he said. “It’s going to be a digital engagement, even digital capabilities, that we don’t realize today. Much different ways of delivering information.”