Evolution of Marketing Technology: Showcased Through the Best Financial Communications Campaigns

Living Group LogoIt’s no secret that financial services communications has been slower to adapt to the way the digital era has impacted marketing and communications strategies.

But for the past 25 years, the Financial Communications Society (FCS) has been recognizing the agencies and in-house communications professionals that have been leading the charge. The blending of marketing and technology applied to financial services can be measured through the lens of the FCS, a not-for-profit trade association founded in 1967 as the “Advertising & PR Association of Wall Street.”

An industry barometer for the landscape of financial marketing mapped against the evolution of Marketing Technology and the overall media evolution is best epitomized through the annual FCS Portfolio Awards, a competition established in 1995 to give financial advertisers an opportunity to showcase their work and innovative campaigns.

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Marketing in financial services can be hesitant to adapt to new technology due to a number of factors reflecting the nature of the financial services industry itself. Besides the industry’s reputation of the products and services being classified as generally “unsexy,” campaigns must remain compliant with constraining regulations, lengthy disclaimers, and arduous internal approval processes.

Over the past two decades, “Portfolio” has grown from an original list of five categories relating to the advertising industry, changing through the years as the field of communications and marketing started to evolve and take shape. The original five categories — Magazine, Newspaper, Television, Radio, and Direct Mail — have now expanded to nearly 20 categories in 2019.

Can you remember a time when Print advertising was so strong that we needed two categories? It’s no surprise that Television continues to take center stage at Portfolio—a category that garners the biggest budgets, the largest audiences, and the most attention. What may come as a surprise, especially to seasoned experts in evolving Marketing Technology is the Direct Mail category remaining a stalwart of the competition, attracting numerous entries every year.

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While we phased out Radio as a category in 2009, we introduced Audio in 2017 as a strong indication of the ever-evolving media landscape. This category recognizes advertising and content on all media “for the ears,” including terrestrial and satellite radio, streaming services, and podcasts. The major turning point in the evolution of Portfolio was 2013, when the FCS dramatically expanded the categories to include seven areas under Digital Media — from Mobile to Video to Email, and added Social Media, both organic and paid — ideal for communications strategies executed with or created by marketing technologies.

Since then, there’s been no looking back for Digital Media, which, last year, accounted for nearly 40% of the 170 trophies awarded at Portfolio 2018, indicating that financial services marketers are eager to present campaigns that effectively communicate while embracing technological transformation.

In 2018, the FCS Portfolio Awards returned to the organization’s roots as “Advertising & PR Association of Wall Street.”  For the first-time in Portfolio’s history, a PR entry won a Best in Show trophy for Corporate Image and the Judges’ Choice Award.  That entry was State Street Global Advisors’ “Fearless Girl.”

The Call For Entries is now open for the 25th Anniversary FCS Portfolio Awards; the deadline is Friday, March 1st.  Recognizing creative excellence in categories from advertising to PR to branded content to events marketing, the competition welcomes entries for Corporate Image, B2B, and Consumer Retail.  The black tie Awards Gala will be held on May 9th at the Ziegfeld Ballroom in New York City.  For more details, please visit www.thefcs.org.

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