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The importance of digital advertising

There are new ways to connect with potential members, and it starts with online advertising.

Companies and organizations of all sorts, including credit unions, must re-evaluate how they will reach the public. That's because the old ways of advertising have been updated. 

Traditional print advertising, in products such as newspapers or magazines, has a limited reach. Additionally, the growing number of television and radio stations means commercials on those platforms reach a smaller audience share. In a study of six of the most popular network news programs on TV, the Pew Research Center found five of them had a lower average share in 2014 than they did in 2009. 

However, in a study comparing TV to online videos, 72 percent of advertising agencies found online videos to be as or more effective than TV, according to a 2015 survey by video advertising firm BrightRoll.

Platforms such as Twitter, which allows consumers to choose the news they want to read, and digital video recorders, which give viewers the option to fast-forward through unwanted commercials, have adjusted the strategies for reaching customers. 

So how can credit unions reach new members? They must turn to mobile and digital spaces, and invest advertising dollars there. 

Stay ahead of the curve
Digital advertising isn't just a trend; it is here to stay. In 2014, companies spent more than 10 percent of their total revenue on marketing, according to a Gartner survey. That same survey found that 51 percent of the companies or organizations who participated planned to increase their digital marketing budget in 2015, by an average of 17 percent.

A credit union executive doesn't want to be left behind, so evolving as a advertiser is important. What worked last month may not work in the future, and it is important to always be looking for the next digital advertising innovation. That means not only advertising on websites, but also mobile phones and applications. Print, radio and TV may not be dead, but for a credit union to really stand out and find new members, it must have an online advertising presence.

It all starts with the phones
A common place to begin, when it comes to digital advertising, is on smartphones. Phones are an advertiser's dream, as the majority of Americans look at them multiple times per day. In fact, 64 percent of Americans have a smartphone, according to a study done by the Pew Research Center. Among young adults aged 18 to 29, 15 percent are dependent on their mobile devices for internet use. 

"The old ways of advertising have been updated."

Being unique in the crowded world of mobile advertising takes work. Credit unions should consider making video ads that can integrate with applications. Smartphone users spent 86 percent of the time on their phone using apps in 2014, TechCrunch reported. Finding out what applications potential members may be using can help credit unions to gain attention. For credit unions, smartphone advertising presents an opportunity to attract members at all times of the day. Mobile ads are growing in popularity, with companies around the world projected to spend a total of $118 billion on mobile advertising through 2018, according to eMarketer. With more competition in the marketplace, it is more important than ever to stand out and not fall behind.

Market research plays a big role
Not every online space draws the same type of consumer, so it is very important for credit union executives to know where their advertising dollars are going. With more and more young members managing their finances online, the Credit Union Times reported that it has become common for credit unions to focus their ads online. The site referenced Bo McDonald, the president of Your Marketing Co., who explained why digital advertising was key for his credit union members.

"We're allocating a lot of media dollars into digital advertising," McDonald said. "A lot of money has come out of traditional radio and gone into Pandora (web radio). And a lot of money has come out from billboards and other traditional media and into online remarketing."

It may be wise to hire an outside market research firm to really determine the best ways to reach a desired audience. A different perspective and frame of reference can be valuable, according to Mashable, and outside firms can assist a credit union in making informed decisions about strategies for digital and mobile advertising.