Banks Can Say Goodbye To Targeting and Hello To New Costs with Google’s Latest Ad Restrictions

Danielle Filippone
Senior Marketing Associate

For decades, banks have marketed specific loan or credit products to prospects based on life stages, life events or other attributes that suggest a need.

New movers to a neighborhood close to a bank branch, newly married, new baby, college education, etc. But new rules from Google, which were set to take effect October 19, 2020, will make marketing products in this way more difficult, and likely more costly, for banks. From Google’s update to its Personalized ad policies:  

“Google will update its Personalized advertising policies to introduce new targeting restrictions. In an effort to improve inclusivity for users disproportionately affected by societal biases; housing, employment, and credit products or services can no longer be targeted to audiences based on gender, age, parental status, marital status, or ZIP code.”

The change from Google supports moves by brands to achieve ideals of equity and inclusion, and to avoid discriminating by sending certain offers to certain people. A very noble effort. But now that banks and credit unions are all-in on digital marketing, what are these restrictions going to mean? 

There is no doubt that the swift change in policy will be a big blow to banks heavily relying on demographics to market the right credit and loan products to consumers via location or life stage. The policy will almost certainly have a negative impact on digital ROI in the short term. But, as the Financial Brand points out, it’s not all doom and gloom. Banks can still target customers via PPC, and keyword-based approaches may spur a SEO second boom. And they can always revert to direct mail and email, which still afford good targeting capabilities. This may even help financial marketers prepare for the impending “cookiepocalypse” and other sweeping changes bound to come from the world’s largest digital advertising platforms. 

Google is going to continue changing its policies as the company gears up for a long stretch of legal battles with the U.S. government, including an impending antitrust lawsuit. Bank marketers should plan to pump up digital budgets now to cover ad spend that is far less targeted than they are used to, while planning for long-term strategies that help consumers find the right financial products via paid search, content and email. As for Google’s stated intention for the policy change, these restrictions will hopefully move us closer to authentic inclusivity in digital advertising, something all marketers can get on board with.  

Read the full article on The Financial Brand. 

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Danielle Filippone
Senior Marketing Associate
Danielle.F@McGuffincg.com