Akbank: The Future of Mobile Search Ads


Campaign Summary

AdWords search advertising was Akbank’s most profitable channel, helping it start conversations and target the most qualified users in mobile search advertising. Its explosive growth bidding formula, cross-channel mobile audience integration, real-time script for ad groups, and personalized copywriting increased Akbank’s sales and decreased its costs.


Objective and Context:

Decades of search advertising in a market that is competitive and saturated have revealed that one of the biggest obstacles search advertisers face is to increase sales online while remaining cost-effective. As machine learning has flourished, smart bidding has helped advertisers reach goals based on their key performance indicators in AdWords Search Advertising.

Akbank wanted to target the most qualified users in mobile search advertising, with a strategic objective shaped around the characteristic traits of its prospective consumers that leveraged new betas in search advertising and automated growth hack algorithms.

The secret of great performance marketing is listening to prospects and understanding them better than their cookies. Akbank targeted its prospects by their social media affinities, revolutionizing the use of data in search networks. Using data-driven attribution models in its campaigns helped attribute the right credits to the right keywords.

Key performance indicators included:  

  • Increase in credit card sales
  • Decrease in cost per sale
  • Gain new customers using quarter over quarter comparisons

Target Audience:

The target audience consisted of consumers eligible to obtain a new credit card from Akbank, meeting a variety of financial criteria. To discover prospective consumers through mobile marketing, Akbank turned to Google and its new feature that uses in-market audiences in mobile search advertising with bid and target methodology.

Akbank learned that some third party audiences were more eligible for credit card application approval than others — i.e., frequent international travelers, pet owners, and Mercedes-Benz followers. There were also higher approval rates among students, and Akbank used student-based audience lists that fed from Facebook audience lists.

Creative Strategy:

Akbank’s communications strategy was shaped by the nature of its target groups, and followed a personalized copywriting approach that was based on the combination of keywords and audiences.

With two different credit card product segments for frequent flyers (Wings) and shoppers (Axess), it used Google’s in-market audience lists to decide which credit card would be the best for its potential customers. Connecting Instagram engagements with AdWords audience lists, Akbank knew prospects’ real interests. By tapping into their lifestyle on Instagram, it was able to customize its credit card offers.


Overall Campaign Execution:

Eight percent of the overall campaign budget was allocated to mobile. Akbank created a performance marketing formula to find out its equilibrium and maximize its sales while keeping cost per sale at a minimum. The formula was referred to as "explosive growth,” and helped Akbank understand its boundaries and how far it could go to stay profitable and sell at the highest levels.

AdWords smart bidding increases cost per click of your brand search campaigns when it sees conversions at a high level, increasing cost per acquisition. To keep its conversions high and cost per acquisitions low, Akbank generated an in-house script that increases or lowers its cost per click based on the click-through rate. Each ad group had its own script that functioned according to the optimum click-through rate.

Mobile Execution:

With the help of its exponential growth statistics of converting keywords, Akbank was able to increase profitability. It combined the mobile social media behaviors with AdWords audience lists, helping it generate new audience lists that had high approval rates for credit card applications. By tagging each ad in Instagram, it was able to transfer audiences directly to AdWords through Google Analytics.

Using Adjust’s Audience Builder, it segmented its user base further by using any event it was tracking in Adjust within any timeframe. The events worked with customer relationship management data and were generated through customers’ mobile logins in its app. Akbank managed to segment each customer based on their probable credit card limit intervals, even those who haven’t had credit cards. Uploading device ids to its AdWords account, Akbank managed to target highly qualified eligible leads in mobile search advertising.

Results (including context, evaluation, and market impact)

Akbank’s future of search advertising project increased its sale and decreased its costs — making Akbank more efficient. For the first time in its history, Akbank outperformed its physical branches in credit card sales and Akbank’s digital banking was no longer considered as an alternative channel for credit card sales.  

Results included:  

  • Akbank managed to get 131 percent more credit cards applications from its mobile search campaigns
  • Cost per application decreased by 18 percent due to its mobile-oriented campaign optimization for each ad group
  • The search campaign’s share in the total of digital credit card allocations increased from 32 percent to 38
  • Showing ads to targeted consumers helped increase its total digital sales by 36 percent
  • Search campaigns offered a 5 percent higher conversion rate compared to other digital channels

As one of the first financial brands to use a data-driven attribution model, Akbank better understood the customer multi-touched journey. Calculating the incremental impact of each keyword helped it remain profitable while increasing credit card sales. Using its new mobile adaptive landing page, potential customers could complete forms successfully without contacting a call-center agent.

Categories: Mobile Search | Industries: Banking & Financial Services | Objectives: Mobile Search | Awards: Silver Global Winner