The Digital Ad Strategies Used by Top Banks in Q2 2016

Banking has been around since the dawn of society, but that doesn’t mean banks are stuck in the Dark Ages. Despite talk that banks must update their marketing and advertising efforts, eMarketer predicts that the US financial services industry will spend $8.37 billion on digital advertising this year, a 14.5 percent rise from 2015.

Pathmatics proprietary data on the ad spending of banks and financial services companies confirms that the sector spends a lot on ads. In Q2 2016, the top 500 financial services companies spent more than $436 million on desktop, the mobile web and video ads. This data reveals strategies used by top banks to generate billions of impressions and touchpoints with consumers across these channels.

Three stand out: Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Capital One. In Q2 2016, these banks either made the list of top ten advertisers by dollars spent or impressions gained – or both. They shared space on those lists with insurance giants like Geico and Progressive and investment companies like Scottrade and Fisher Investments.

What does the spend of these top banks say about their ad strategies? Read on to find out.

Heavy Investment in Desktop Advertising

Capital One outspent the other banks in the top ten advertisers in Q2 by a wide margin, dropping more than $46 million on desktop ads. This was nearly ten times the amount spent by JPMorgan Chase, which spent $4.7 million and Citigroup, which spent $5.4 million.


However, common among all three was their commitment to desktop advertising over the mobile web or video. For all three banks, desktop was the channel on which they spent the most in Q2.

Low Mobile Web Spend

Mobile web spending by Capital One, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup was relatively low. Still, Capital One dominated, shelling out $2.6 million to JPMorgan Chase’s $649,000 and Citigroup’s $167,000.


Even though the mobile web was not a high priority for any bank, Capital One could afford to allocate a couple million to the channel, since it spent more than $50 million on ads across all channels in Q2.

Uneven Video Ad Spend Allocations

Capital One lost its dominance when it came to video, however. Spending $2.5 million, the bank was outgunned by JPMorgan Chase, which invested a relatively hefty $4.5 million into this channel. Citigroup also invested about five times more into video than the mobile web, though still spent only $860,000.


JPMorgan Chase ran 55 unique video creatives, compared to 87 creatives run by Capital One and 50 run by Citigroup in Q2. So where did those creatives run?

Thirty-two percent of JPMorgan Chase’s video budget was spent running ads on and 17.5 percent ran on YouTube. The third-highest percentage of spend went to Hulu, at almost seven percent.


Capital One pursued a similar spend strategy, using more than 32 percent of its budget on However, the bank spent more than 17 percent of its budget on Hulu and almost 12 percent on


Citigroup chose a different ad distribution strategy entirely, spending more than 29 percent of its budget on Twenty-one percent went to the New York Times and nearly 20 percent to Yahoo Sports.


The uneven spending shows that all three banks viewed video’s importance very differently in Q2. They also differed on which sites they thought were worth the money. While JPMorgan found the most value in video entertainment and news, Capital One diversified into sports sites. Citigroup decided to allocate a significant portion of spend across two sports-focused sites and a news outlet.

One thing is certain though: it looks to be a banner year for ad spending in financial services. The millions spent by these three banks alone across desktop, the mobile web and video prove that.

Want even more insights into how financial services companies spend their ad budgets? Download the Top Financial Services Report Digital Advertisers in Q2 2016.


Written by Pathmatics

Pathmatics provides actionable display and mobile intelligence to many of the world's leading brands, agencies, publishers and adtech providers.