Consumer Credit Ads Increase as Spending Season Approaches

A soft economy and an approaching holiday season have combined to trigger an increase in online ads for consumer credit services, a report from Jupiter Media Metrix found.

Online advertising for consumer credit services increased 93 percent in the first three quarters of 2001, from 8 billion ad impressions in the first quarter to 15.4 billion in the third quarter. According to Jupiter Media Metrix, consumer credit services is now the largest segment for online advertising within the financial services industry. The financial services industry is one of the three industries that advertises the most online.

“It’s understandable that the significant growth of online advertising for credit services coincides with a softening economy and the approach of the holiday shopping season,” said Charles Buchwalter, vice president of media research at Jupiter Media Metrix. “Furthermore, it’s interesting to note that credit-card companies are aggressively working to increase their customer base and encourage more spending, while credit-counseling services are simultaneously seeking to reach people trying to get out of debt.”

Consumer credit services offer financial institutions a familiar vehicle that can be used to gain new customers. The new customers can then be introduced to other services the institutions offer.

“Credit offerings are an ideal way for financial institutions to attract new online consumers because they appeal to people who have significantly less online tenure than those interested in services such as online banking, bill payment and brokerage offerings,” said James Van Dyke, research director at Jupiter Media Metrix. “As a result, online advertising is still an effective strategy for financial services companies to grow their customer bases.”

More than three-quarters (79 percent) of the online advertising in the consumer credit segment was done by credit card companies. Visa led the way with 59 percent; MasterCard 15 percent; Discover/Novus 3 percent; and American Express 2 percent. The remaining 21 percent of consumer credit advertising was done by various credit counseling and reporting companies: Neway was responsible for 8 percent; ConsumerInfo.com 6 percent; and PrivacyGuard 2 percent.

Consumer credit services had the highest number of ad impressions per advertiser for each week this year among all financial-services segments. The average consumer-credit advertiser had 75.9 million impressions in the first quarter of this year, and the number of impressions increased to 146.7 million in the third quarter. The sharp increase in consumer credit online advertising began in the third quarter and continued through recent weeks. Ad impressions increased 75 percent between the weeks of July 30 and Oct. 15, from 14.4 million to 25.2 million.

Providian Financial’s Getsmart.com was the leading consumer credit advertiser and also the leading financial services advertiser overall in the third quarter of 2001 with 5.6 billion impressions, according to Jupiter Media Metrix. Most of Providian’s impressions were spread among the major consumer portals. Providian had 2.2 billion impressions on Yahoo, 512.0 million on iWon and 272.8 million on MSN. Media Metrix data found an increase in traffic over the same time, with traffic to Getsmart.com increasing 386 percent, from 1.1 million unique visitors in January 2001 to 5.2 million in September 2001. Following Providian Financial was Citigroup with 2.0 billion impressions and Datek with 1.9 billion impressions.

The major consumer portals were the home to most of the consumer credit ads online. Yahoo hosted 5.7 billion impressions; iWon had 1.2 billion impressions; and Netscape featured 532 million impressions.

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