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The Goals

  • Win new customers
  • Upsell existing credit card holders

The Approach

  • Used Programmatic Guaranteed to secure inventory with Canada’s top publishers
  • Used audience inclusion to reach existing customers with dedicated upsell campaign

The Results

  • Strengthened partnership with key publishers
  • Reduced the overall cost per acquisition (CPA) by 46%


Published February 2018

Better precision in premium inventory

Scotiabank, one of Canada’s largest banks, has been investing heavily in its digital strategy to improve the overall customer experience and the way the bank interacts with its customers online. For this reason it created a network of five Digital Factories across its five key markets, which bring together experts in engineering, design, digital marketing, analytics, agile delivery and software product management in a collaborative and creative environment.

In Canada, the Digital Factory has been looking for ways to improve the efficiency of the bank’s existing customer acquisition strategies. Historically, it has relied on tactics such as paid search and display remarketing to acquire new customers. While these strategies have been paying off, the team knew it could do more and decided to explore new tools to reach even more valuable customers.

“As digital marketers we are constantly tasked with finding the right balance between scale and efficiency,” acknowledges Matthew Bennett, Director of Digital Acquisition Marketing, Scotiabank. 

The digital performance team was looking to make the most of its data to find suitable prospects for two credit cards. Specifically, the team wanted to win new customers and upsell holders of the bank’s no-fee, lower-tier cards to its premium cards. At the same time, the team wanted to exclude existing customers who already had premium cards, to avoid spending ad dollars where they weren’t needed.

The Digital Factory turned to DoubleClick Bid Manager’s Programmatic Guaranteed with Audience Lists to reach (or exclude) Scotia’s current customers with a new offer, achieve guaranteed access to premium publisher inventory and increase its reach. In addition, it sought to customize its ads to the two different audiences, making the ads more relevant to both existing and new consumers. 

Scotiabank began by setting up deals with six of Canada’s premium publishers over a two-month period. Some deals excluded the bank’s current premium cardholders with an objective of acquiring new customers, while other deals only included its lower-tier cardholders with an objective of upselling them a premium card. 

Driving efficiency in credit card sign-ups

Scotiabank originally hypothesized that Programmatic Guaranteed with Audiences would help drive consideration for its products and assist paid search and display remarketing in completing the acquisition process. The results exceeded these expectations. The bank found that using Programmatic Guaranteed with Audiences cut its overall cost per acquisition (CPA) by 46%, compared to its standard prospecting campaigns. 

Several publishers also registered a similar CPA compared with Scotiabank's standard remarketing activity, an impressive result given that the bank was not using low-funnel audiences for retargeting as part this test.

“While our core KPI focus was set on unique impression reach and assisted conversion volume  -- entering into the test what immediately stood out for the team was a few of the publishers ability to drive CPA efficiency on last click,” Bennett says.

Finally, Scotiabank learned that success with reservation deals today requires a constant dialogue with publisher partners. One publisher, in particular, was not performing to expectations and worked with the bank to improve its offering. Within a week, it became the most efficient publisher from a CPA perspective.

This is a great example of an advertiser/publisher partnership. Be transparent up front and inform them of your goals and expectations. Treat publishers as strategic partners and aligning to the same performance goals prior to making the reservation.

Director of Digital Acquisition Marketing, Scotiabank.


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