Please research any sponsored / branded content that is published to financial services company websites. Company examples would be Banks / Brokerages / Investment Managers / Financial Information firms. What is most prevalent? Who are leader...

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Please research any sponsored / branded content that is published to financial services company websites. Company examples would be Banks / Brokerages / Investment Managers / Financial Information firms. What is most prevalent? Who are leaders here?

Hello! Thanks for your inquiry on sponsored/branded content that is published to financial services company websites.

The short version is that there is a considerable amount of sponsored/branded content on all of the NASDAQ competitor sites. Blog posts are one the most prevalent forms of sponsored/branded content available on these sites, with infographics and videos not too far behind. Companies like LendingTree, Amex, Wells Fargo, and NerdWallet are examples of leaders in the financial service industry on sponsored/branded content. Below you will find a deeper dive into my research/findings.

METHODOLOGY
Looking at published lists, best practices, company reports, and credible financial services sites, I selected several articles discussing the types of sponsored/branded content that are available on NASDAQ competitor sites. Types of content available on these sites include guest posts, ad hoc reports, info-graphics, and videos, just to name a few. In addition, I paid attention to the sites that had the most relevant content available.

TRADITIONAL AND NONTRADITIONAL CONTENT
The traditional sponsored/branded content seen on financial services websites typically includes news, how-to guides, tools and calculators, info-graphics, data visualization hubs, and resource hubs. The content itself is likely going to be used across their website or at outposts such as social media sites and blogs. Financial Institutions consider very carefully the type of content hubs they use. That's the reason why, there are 4 types of content hubs that will mainly be encountered on their websites:

A blog

It is important to mention that the sponsored/branded content needs to follow the compliance and regulatory standards set up by the regulatory body overseeing Financial Institutions. The regulations apply to all financial services marketing, including organic and paid search, social media, and content marketing. As such, the content needs to stay stand-alone compliant at all times, always warn the consumer of the risks associated with the product that's being reviewed/promoted, and never mislead the consumer in any way.

According to Brafton, the financial service leaders in sponsored/branded content marketing are:

American Express uses a blog that's called Open forum to post small business credit content. The articles are aimed at small business owners and provide valuable content without including any promotional ads. The forum is easy to navigate and well organized. Moreover, after American Express' successful Small Business Saturday campaign, the OPEN Forum has been a go-to place to get valuable advice about running a business.

2. Deluxe
Despite Delux being a much smaller company that the other leaders in branded/sponsored content marketing, they have a big web presence which places them in a unique position. Their blog focuses on providing solutions for financial institutions by using blog articles, white papers, info-graphics, webinars, and videos. Moreover, their content page looks much more modern than the other financial services' pages. They have arranged their content in tiles, have images for every post, keep dates on the articles to show how recent they are, and even provide short bylines for the authors, letting the reader know who wrote the article. Deluxe is effectively treating its website like a sales tool, letting prospects perform their own due diligence before they come to the table ready to talk about solutions.

WellsFargo strongest feature is its resource center for parents of college-bound students called Student Loandown. The resource center not only provides information on financial decision-making and investments but also on more personal matters such as "tips on selecting and applying to college", "what to do when you find yourself in a college waiting list", and many other similar articles. This type of thing is crucial because it shows their customers that the bank cares about them outside of their financial situation which builds not only loyalty but also the brand's SEO footprint.

JP Morgan relies heavily on blog articles, case studies, and video content. The most important feature of their blog is the transparency of the website. They try to put a face on the corporation by sharing stories and interviews with clients they have helped as well as sharing some personal anecdotes related to JP Morgan's executive team. In reality, this type of brand/content marketing is aimed at humanizing the corporation. By being so transparent and showing the inner workings of the corporation, JP Morgans becomes more relatable to its customers which drives loyalty and increases the brand's SEO footprint.

5. Monument
Monument's blog is one of the few websites that attempts and succeeds at having fun with the financial information they provide. The focus mainly on blog posts, discussing complex information such as wealth management and investments. What's unique about their way of providing information is that they try to simplify it as much as possible and even write it in a way that will make the customers smile. As Einstein says "If you can't simply explain it, you don't understand it well enough."

NerdWallet's blog is the epitome of modern, straightforward, and engaging financial blog. The blog itself is made to look fresh, yet simple and informative. Their target audience is the millennials, as they represent $80 billion in buying power. The information on the blog also comes free of charge which is another feature that few other financial institutions would ever consider.

LendingTree's blog provides information about personal lending. Its aim is to simplify the process of lending by providing tools and resources such as loan quotes comparison, credit score calculators, and blog posts that answer various questions about the lending process. Most of the articles are written by industry experts. As such, Lendingtree's articles are always very informative, provide hard statistics, and real-world considerations.

Non-traditional content tends to be more modern and typically includes blog posts, magazines, video content, podcasts, webinars and in-house publishing, and news hubs. Discover, JPMorganChase, UmpquaBank, WellsFargo, and AmericanExpress have all experimented with using these forms of content. NerdWallet, a site geared towards a younger audience, is a leader in this area, relying on both traditional and non-traditional content.

COMPETITOR ANALYSIS
NASDAQ's main competitors include NYSE, CBOE, CMEGroup, Bloomberg, ThomsonReuters, and Morningstar. Nasdaq mainly uses traditional sponsored/branded content such as news articles, personal financing info-graphics, and investing tools. On the other hand, their competitors combine both traditional and non-traditional content, heavily relying on video content, educational articles, data platforms, blogs, and others. Out of all of the competitors, NYSE has the most modern approach, relying heavily on video content. CBOE, on the other hand, has the most diverse selection of sponsored/branded content, relying on news, blogs, tools, educational articles, and resource hubs. CMEGroup relies mostly on traditional content such as educational articles. Bloomberg combines traditional and nontraditional content, heavily using info-graphics, news articles, videos, and others. Morningstar prefers a more in-house branded content approach in the form of blog posts and articles. ThomsonReuters Financial is the only competitor that has specialized branded products that utilize almost all traditional and non-traditional sponsor/branded content tools: ThomsonReuters Eikon (news and research), ThomsonReuters Elektron (data/trading platform and tools), and ThomsonReuters EikonMessenger (collaboration tool with financial professionals).

CONCLUSION
To summarize, there are plenty of alternatives to advertising on NASDAQ. All of NASDAQ's main competitors rely heavily on sponsored/branded content in traditional and nontraditional forms. A handful of companies have established themselves as leaders in the industry.

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