‘They reach the same audiences we’re after’: Inside Ally Financial’s Amazon strategy

Ally Financial is using Amazon to get the attention of its affluent millennial target.

The financial services company has been working with Amazon since 2017 and was drawn to Amazon’s targeting capabilities. Since then, it has grown the relationship from testing banner ads to targeting Amazon audience segments that respond well to its ads across Amazon’s DSP.

This year, Ally Financial shifted another piece of its marketing to Amazon when it decided to migrate its connected TV advertising platform from The Trade Desk to Amazon’s Fire TV to consolidate its CTV buy and use Amazon’s app-level data, according to Andrea Brimmer, chief marketing and PR officer for Ally Financial.

“It’s not an endemic platform in the sense that they are a shopping site vs. a site that highlights finance-related editorial, but it’s endemic to us because they reach the same audiences we’re after,” wrote Brimmer. “That is: consumers who are transactional, digitally savvy and in the pursuit of the best of what’s out there.”

As Amazon has become more focused on its advertising business, which is starting to mature, the company is able to pitch its data to advertisers like Ally Financial who don’t have products to sell on its platform, another sign that Amazon’s advertising prowess continues to grow. The conversation with Amazon for Ally Financial came after the company rolled out more advertising options, according to Brimmer.

Overall, Ally Financial is taking a more customized approach to digital advertising this year. The financial services company has created ads for specific sites — for example, it crafted copy for an ad specifically for Rotten Tomatoes, among others.

“We didn’t just take the same creative and run it everywhere; we were exceptionally relevant from a contextual standpoint,” said Brimmer. “In the past, we might’ve taken our broadcast campaign and done 10-second or six-second cut downs, whatever the digital media would’ve called for. Instead, we created specifically for the media this year.”

Doing so meant that the company created ads specifically for sites, like various food rating platforms, which was tied to the creative idea. Ally Financial wants its affluent millennial target to spend as much time researching the financial institution as they would the best sheets, dog bed, movie or a brunch spot they were considering. That’s why the creative and media approach targeted ratings sites where it could get consumer attention by talking about what the consumer would rate on that site, e.g., movies on Rotten Tomatoes, and compare that to rating a financial institution.

“That was something that was really different for us as well,” said Brimmer. “We looked through the entirety of the media buy and created for each channel specifically or each platform that we were on.”

This year, Ally Financial will spend 60% of its marketing budget on digital, up slightly from last year’s 50% digital spend. This comes as the financial services company is focusing more on paid social — allocating 20% of that 60% digital spend. 

“We really leaned into a lot of social platforms that we haven’t really had a presence on,” said Brimmer. “We’re spending a lot more on paid social and that has definitely consumed a lot more of our digital budget.” 

That paid social spend is going toward platforms where the company hasn’t advertised or hasn’t had a big presence before like Instagram and Reddit. The company will also continue to spend on Snapchat filters. The rest of the digital spend is split up across a variety of digital properties including YouTube, Google Ads, Amazon, homepage takeovers on sites like Yahoo as well as various financial sites. 

During the first half of 2019, Ally Financial has spent $32.2 million in media, according to Kantar, which doesn’t measure social spend. The firm also found that in 2018 Ally Financial spent $77.4 million, up from the $54.1 million it spent in 2017. 

Overall, the company is spending 60% of its budget on digital, 20% on broadcast and 20% on digital outdoor, which is another new area of spend for the company this year. Last year, Ally Financial spent 50% on digital, 30% on broadcast and reserved the rest of the budget as a back up in case it needed it. 

As we continue to see TV audience decline and digital advertising yields more engagement, brands are investing more in personalized digital advertisements,” wrote Scott Harkey, co-founder and managing partner of OH Partners, in an email. “More companies will likely follow in Ally Financial’s footsteps and invest more heavily in digital spending.”

The company is also looking to spend media dollars on esports this year. “We’re looking for a broader entrance into esports and how we think about esports as a platform for us as well,” said Brimmer. “While we haven’t done anything significant there yet, I think you’ll see us have a bigger presence there in the coming months.” 


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