Akbank: Axess — OK, Google. I'm Feeling Lucky


Campaign Summary

The "I'm Feeling Lucky" campaign used Google Search Ads in a creative way to sell credit cards, increase Akbank's new customer base, and strengthen its total share in the credit card competition among other banks in Turkey.


Objective and Context:

One of the biggest obstacles for advertisers is to increase sales and stay cost-effective at the same time, especially when the market is already competitive and saturated like the credit card business. Akbank is one of the few banks that has a credit card application landing page that is fully digitized. There aren't any additional offline steps in the Axess credit card application system, which helps it acquire new customer from digital and boost credit card sales.

This campaign's objective was to use Google Search Ads in a creative way to sell credit cards with the lowest cost of sales per unit, increase Akbank's new customer base, and strengthen its total share in the credit card competition among other banks in Turkey.

Akbank set out to find keywords that have high search queries and low competition. It wanted to determine the gap in the market that competitors are unaware of and match it with seasonal trends leading to a high search volume. High search volume meant a high potential for obtaining Axess credit card applications, while low competition meant a lower CPA.

National lottery keywords became Akbank's focus. The idea was to go beyond finance and attract an audience that would be interested in the Axess credit card product. This 500 TL chip-money credit card sales campaign gave 500 Turkish Liras to those who applied to Axess credit cards for the first time. Combining this with the national lottery queries, Akbank targeted potential customers who believe in and say, "I'm feeling lucky." To make this operation profitable, Akbank had to get into account machine learning because not all the queries had a high potential to get credit cards from Akbank. It had to find those individuals who have high credit scores, a good financial background, and are new to the bank. Teaching machine learning of these variables became the bank's next objective.

Target Audience:

In the banking digital market where all the brands are competing for the same target audience that is eligible for and interested in having a credit card, the competition increases from one day to another as every competitor targets the same brand, generic, and competitor keywords related to credit cards.

The Axess credit card brand of Akbank had an impression share of 90 percent or more for the majority of these credit card application-related search words. To create additional incremental value, it needed to find ways to overcome this competition.

Akbank decided to target people who search for the Turkish National Lottery prize-related keywords: a fast and easy money-seeking audience. This audience's "National Lottery Results" related search volume attained a level of 4.5 million according to Google Trends Data.

Creative Strategy:

In addition to regular display ad formats such as Facebook Ads, DV360, and Google Display Network, Akbank wanted to position Google Search like a display inventory and like a showcase for the 500 TL chip-money campaign. Its motto was "You don't need to worry if you didn't win the lottery, because Axess makes you win."


Overall Campaign Execution:

The budget was 5,000 TL, to be used for two days once the New Year Lottery results were announced. The total budget was allocated to different marketing platforms including, but not limited to, Google Search and Display Ads, Facebook Ads, and DV360.

Akbank used 100 percent of the budget on mobile marketing platforms with weight given to Google Search Ads.

Mobile Execution:

In Turkey, at the beginning of every new year, a national lottery is held. In this season, between New Years Eve and January 1, Google Trends data shows that search queries related to the National Lottery result attain a volume of 4.5 million. Akbank approached this seasonal trend in a strategic way and tried to draw a profile for those that were searching for these terms. The people who buy national lottery tickets are those who are interested in games of chance and are an "easy money seeker audience."

Akbank decided to design a campaign that would attract those who couldn't win the big prize of the national lottery and instead offer them an easy way of winning a prize. This audience constitutes most searchers who would also be interested in gaining 500 TL chip-money by having an Axess credit card for the first time. The strategy was to turn Google Search Ads into an advertising showcase by considering search trends and overcoming the competition issue within the market while going beyond finance. Its goal was to collect credit card applications and turn them into sales by using the power of data enabled by Google Trends. Taking advantage of an unofficial API for Google trends made it possible to increase its bidding when the stakes were high.

Akbank took advantage of the conversion around bidding technology of Search Ads 360 (SA360), which gave it the flexibility to use more than one conversion optimization. SA360 taught machine learning based on three conversions instead of one. Then it decided the formula: (0.3*Noncustomer Conv.)+(1.5*Credit Score Green)+(3.2*Application Completed).

Akbank got into bidding when it wanted to with the "beyond finance" keywords that made it profitable. The "I'm feeling lucky campaign" leveraged both data and creativity; these factors enabled Akbank to differentiate from its competitors by filling the gap in the market.

The bank also supported its 500 TL chip-money credit card sales campaign with banners on other digital marketing platforms such as Facebook Ads and DV360 for those who clicked its search ads.

Results (including context, evaluation, and market impact)

Prior to the launch of the National Lottery campaign, Akbank claimed that that the only way to differentiate a search campaign's performance was by improving the quality score or playing with bids. Although Axess' impression share was more than 90 percent for most of the keywords, its search campaigns' performance was still affected by the presence of other competitor brands. Prior to the campaign, the concept of marketing automation was quite abstract, and the use of marketing automation tools was absent.

Akbank collected nearly 4,000 applications and increased its daily credit card sales by 18 percent. On Google Search, its click-through rate was 25 percent with "National Lottery results" related searches between December 31 and January 1, which was higher than the average CTR of the Axess Google Search account's average CTR. This click-through rate was evidence of the fact that the lottery result searchers' profiles matched with the Axess credit card applicants' profiles: fast and easy money seekers. The 500 TL chip-money campaign was a great alternative to the lottery ticket owners who couldn't win a price (the majority of the target).

Akbank proved that the competition level in the digital banking market was growing drastically from one day to another. Knowing that the potential customer's behaviors were also changing and becoming more digitalized, banks were increasingly emphasizing digital sales. The industry was evolving, and bank branches were becoming less important.

Akbank successfully overcame the competition and found potential customers digitally by going beyond finance in its National Lottery campaign. Through its disruptive strategy, Akbank filled the gap in the market where the target audience was present, but the competitors was unaware of. The brand beat the competition in the digital banking market thanks to the power of data enabled by Google Trends.

Categories: | Industries: | Objectives: Mobile Search | Awards: X Bronze Winner