Report: Financial Services Firms Top Web Advertisers

Hoping to drum up new business amid a slowing economy, financial services firms poured money into online advertising during June, according to a report released Tuesday by Nielsen//NetRatings (Nadsaq: NTRT).

Three of the top five online advertisers during the month of June were financial services firms, NetRatings found.

“The financial services push is reflective of economic times,” NetRatings vice president and principal analyst Allen Weiner said. “With the economy slowing down, financial services companies are doing everything they can to stimulate consumer spending.”

In all, the top 10 online advertisers spent US$143 million on Web advertising, according to the New York market research and measurement firm.

Providian Bank topped the list, spending more than $20.1 million on Internet advertising during the month, followed by JP Morgan Chase, with $16.9 million spent. Capital One ranked fourth, spending $14.7 million.

Dual Purpose Ads

Companies are using the Internet advertising medium both to drive traffic directly to their Web offerings — with discounts and offers designed to generate click-through traffic — and at the same time, to build brand awareness, the study said.

In the past, experts have questioned the Web’s ability to be used as a branding medium. Looking to make the Web a more versatile medium for marketing, the Internet Advertising Bureau recently unveiled new, larger ad sizes and released guidelines for using rich media ads.

“The financial ads are an example of the current trend in the world of online advertising — the merger of branding and direct marketing,” Weiner said. “Financial services ads marketing brand names such as Visa, MasterCard and Shell are used for branding, while direct offers are created through the simple click of a banner.”

Media on Media

Also in the NetRatings top five were Sony (NYSE: SNE), which ranked third, and AOL Time Warner (NYSE: AOL), which ranked fifth. Sony — which recently inked a massive marketing, consulting and co-branding deal with Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) — spent $15.6 million online in June, while AOL spent $14.1 million.

Other notable advertisers in the top 10 included Orbitz, the airline-backed travel site that is making a major push to capture market share from more established rivals. Orbitz spent just over $12 million in online ads during the month of its highly touted launch.

Also in the top 10 were Classmates Online and Bertelsmann AG, which both spent about $13 million, and Neway, with $11 million spent. (Nasdaq: AMZN) ranked 10th with about $10 million in Web advertising spending during June.

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