David Black – MD, Branding & Consumer Markets at Google UK

Felix Rohatyn, an American banker known best for his role in preventing the bankruptcy of New York City in the 1970s, once noted that “at its core, banking is not simply about profit, but about personal relationships”. As a brand, Santander echoes Felix’s thoughts – believing that a bank’s purpose is to help people and businesses prosper, and that prosperity means more than simply financial wealth.

Customer loyalty makes it notoriously difficult to persuade people to change bank, while youth audiences are also a challenging demographic to reach and convert. With this in mind, Santander partnered with Google to become the first European finance brand to use YouTube’s latest targeting options, and the pioneering campaign enabled IT to embed awareness and recognition of its brand purpose amongst youth audiences.

When it comes to advertising, an eternal challenge for brands and marketers is not just finding the right people, but finding the right people at the right time. Aware of this, Santander chose to launch its campaign taking a new creative approach – utilising User Generated Content (UGC) and YouTube’s Life Events.

In the digital age people are constantly connected, and this gives brands the chance to take advantage of signals of intent from their audience and ultimately be there in the moments that matter. Life Events allowed Santander to be particularly innovative in its approach through using real-time data and signals across Google properties. Life Events enabled Santander to engage with consumers at important milestones, such as graduating, buying a home, and getting married.

For a campaign focused on what prosperity truly means to people, Santander recognised how crucial it was for its message to be told in the right way, through the right people. The bank embraced UGC as the creative vehicle as to communicate in an authentic, human manner.

For example; if Life Events identified a user as being interested in buying a home or getting a mortgage, then they would be served an advert from Santander for Online Mortgage Applications – which would feature UGC of heartwarming clips from young children and families. This helped anchor Santander’s message of helping customers find real prosperity. Through using relatable, emotive video clips audiences are reminded not just of how (and where) to get a mortgage – but the human reason of why they wanted to get their own home or start a family in the first place.

The people making these life changing decisions are likely to be switching between devices throughout their day. To ensure that the most relevant ads were being served at the right time Santander used Video Ad Sequencing, in which consecutive ads are served based on a viewer’s engagement and reaction to an initial ad. Viewing patterns are recognised as users move between devices, guaranteeing Santander a holistic picture of the effectiveness and reach of its messaging.

Metrics are vital in refining, improving and ultimately determining the success of a campaign. Santander used Brand Lift Surveys to measure the impact of this campaign. This tool enables advertisers to understand the impact their YouTube ads are having on perceptions and behaviours throughout the customer journey. A randomised control group (who did not see the ad) and an exposed group (who saw the ad) were both asked the same questions about the ad.

This is the first time a Financial Services brand has tested Life Events and the results were extremely positive. Santander’s campaign came in the top 25% of Brand Lift Surveys for Ad Recall within the UK market, and importantly presented findings for Santander to consider in future campaigns, including which demographic most resonated with the creative, the optimal frequency for the message, and the most effective ad format.

The success of Santander’s pioneering campaign illuminates the new opportunities available to financial services brands. Platforms like YouTube provide businesses with a creative platform and the audience data to ensure their investment is low on wastage. Banking is about building relationships – and YouTube allows brands to begin conversations with people in the moments that matter.

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