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Brand of the Week: Discover Financial Services

November 10 2017 by Jordan Kramer
With the holidays quickly approaching, financial services companies are gearing up for a big finish to Q4 and kick-off to the New Year with credit card offers across digital. Discover Financial Services, the fourth largest credit card company in the US, typically ramps up ad spend during this time, peaking during the month of December.
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After switching up their media planning & buying last year from Dents Aegis’ Vizeum to Publicis’ Spark, Chicago, we have seen their video spend increase while focus on display has subsided. Here’s a look at how the financial services brand is buying across digital, and the campaigns they are running.

Video, Video, & More Video

It’s an obvious trend this year, giant brands from Home Depot to Harley-Davidson are incorporating more video into their ad strategy. Discover Financial is no exception. While overall digital spend is slightly lower for the financial services brand year-over-year, the focus on video has heightened. 
Over the last thirty days, nearly half of Discover’s digital advertising budget has been invested on video advertising - accounting for 45% share of spend. Display consumes the majority of the remaining budget, with mobile representing under five percent of the brand’s spend. 
During the same timeframe last year, display dominated Discover’s digital ad mix with over 90% of spend share. Video was barely a focus, accounting for only 3% of the brand’s budget, beat out by mobile. 
The brand has always run television heavy campaigns, but now we are seeing the commercials that typically run across TV screens hitting digital screens. Touting their cash-back credit card, the top creative (below) over the last month for Discover is a fifteen second video launched on October 24th. The creative has been running on YouTube channels including Kyle Gott, Unbox Therapy, Cars and Water, and Devin Supertramp. 

We Treat You Like You’d Treat You

Consistency is key for brand advertising and Discover has been running their “We Treat You Like You’d Treat You” campaign for years now, indicating they've seen significant ROI. The campaign, originally created for television, shows a customer talking to a customer service representative who…is also the same customer. Playing on the importance of customer service to the brand, commercials would typically end with the campaign’s tagline as a voice-over.
Now, years after the campaign’s launch, the tagline has been dropped entirely but the style of the creative is still familiar and consistent. As Discover has turned their digital advertising focus to video, these creatives have made their way across the web targeting YouTube, AOL, Mental Floss, and Huffington Post as top publishers.
Here’s a look at how the campaign has translated to fifteen second video creatives for the brand. The recent video ads were all for Discover’s Credit Scorecard product and social security alerting feature. Not coincidentally, the brand ramped up spend on these creatives following the Equifax breach.
Creative flight date: 10/2/17. Last seen on 10/16/17.
Creative flight date: 10/1/17. Last seen on 10/17/17.


Discover vs. AmEx

When looking at the credit card competitive landscape, two brands are putting an emphasis on digital advertising in their overall strategy. Both Discover and American Express are outspending other credit card brands, including Visa and Barclays, across digital device-types. How do the two compare?
American Express, after testing out some video in their strategy over the last year, is back to a display heavy plan. Consuming three quarters of their digital spend over the last thirty days, AmEx has run nearly 200 unique display creatives across an average of 34 sites per day. Mobile follows with just under a quarter of the brand’s digital ad spend, with the remaining change going to video. Clearly a much different strategy than what Discover is executing. 
The difference in strategies is evident when looking at site overlap between the two credit card brands. Discover is crushing AmEx on YouTube and AOL because of their video focus, while AmEx is targeting a number of sites that aren’t even on Discover’s radar.
Here are the top sites that American Express has been advertising on over the last thirty days, that Discover is not running on at all:

See Discover's Full Digital Advertising Strategy [Free Report] 

As the end of the year approaches, we can expect Discover to continue their focus on video, perhaps even offering a holiday spin on the "We Treat You Like You'd Treat You" campaign. For publishers, if you haven't already secured ad dollars from the brand for December, you may be too late to the party to cash in on Discover's top spending month.

Uncover exactly how Discover Financial Services has been investing across digital over the last thirty days, including device-type breakout, top sites, and programmatic data, with the latest Brand of the Week report.

Download Discover's Digital Ad Strategy

About Author
Jordan Kramer

An out-of-the-box thinker with a love for disruptive ideas, Jordan's background spans PR and events for the wedding & hospitality industry in Los Angeles and Scottsdale and also launching one of America's most unique food trucks. She jumped from the food start-up scene to the tech start-up scene in 2013 to join one of the most unique companies in ad tech. Jordan is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication.

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