Women hold two-thirds of the student loans in the United States, but they are far less likely to refinance those loans to save money.
One possible reason is that ads for loan refinancing use “one note” messaging that doesn’t feel inclusive to women, according to CommonBond creative VP Cara Phillips.
CommonBond saw an opportunity to correct that imbalance in its fall advertising campaign. The campaign connects student loans refinancing to the enjoyment of simple pleasures like green juice, pugs and yoga, as well as the attainment of life goals like parenthood and traveling.
With its Instagram-worthy images of people who don’t have their life on hold because of student loans, CommonBond is trying to snap people out of the “set it and forget it” mindset, said Chief Operating Officer Robb Granado, who oversees customer acquisition.
To reach professional women between 25 and 40 years old who haven’t refinanced their student loans, the ads are running across a mix of media designed to mirror what NYC professionals may do throughout their day: subway out-of-home ads, placements on Refinery29’s Money Diaries, NPR podcast ads, social media, ads across Vox Media’s Concert network of sites, direct mail and social media.
One wrinkle: Facebook will remove many targeting options for credit-related advertisers in September, including look-alike audiences built using gender, age and location. It’s not yet clear to advertisers like CommonBond what that will entail.
“The new Facebook rules are still not well understood. We’re trying to understand what the ultimate impact will be,” Granado said.
CommonBond doesn’t target based on sex and gender anyway, nor does it gather that information during a loan application, but it’s a helpful demographic data point, Granado said. And it is that gender imbalance insight that led CommonBond to create a more inclusive message.
As Facebook clamps down on targeting, CommonBond will stick to targeting college grads, who are very likely to have loans. It will focus on what it thinks is the biggest performance driver: the messaging.
“The creative message is far more important than any programmatic targeting within social platforms,” Granado said.
CommonBond credits its ability to hone and optimize creative messaging to its in-house media investment and creative development.
“There is a deeper understanding of how to place the creative in the right place,” Granado said, and the company “pulls levers quickly” to build creatives and optimize.
The in-house marketing team also allows CommonBond to more easily weave the look and feel of the campaign across its actual product, from the landing page to product design and user interface, Phillips said. That cohesion is not only something that customers expect, but it can drive performance.
For this campaign, CommonBond will measure success by how many people start a loan refinance application, which means extending the brand messaging beyond the ad to the actual product.
To achieve that goal, in September, CommonBond will add more mid-funnel and lower-funnel ads, such as retargeting, because it knows people must see its message five to 10 times before they’ll start a loan application. And after the campaign runs, CommonBond will use fractional attribution to account for this messaging frequency and measure success, rather than letting channels like Facebook take all the credit for the last click.