iShares by BlackRock
adam&eveDDB, Two, cain&abel
The European ETF AUM is predicted to almost double in 4 years passing $3T by 2026 which is a 16+% annual growth rate (PWC, 2022), this offers great opportunity, but also a challenge to iShares to maintain its market share of 43% in an increasingly competitive and aggressive market.
We conducted qualitative research into the process of provider selection and found that very little differentiated ETF providers beyond the rational drivers of product selection with the size of iShares being an important differentiator. With only 22% of European portfolios made up of ETFs we found many investors choose iShares because it’s the biggest provider.
Despite being pragmatic, our audience, investors, had an emotional core around the relationship with their clients and providers. The impact of this is trust and reassurance is key, and investors felt a great sense of responsibility to their clients to ‘always get it right’ choosing the ETF leader and the most experienced brand gave them the reassurance to make big decisions. This was particular evident in the ESG category where authenticity played an important part in the trust equation, investors told us that ‘if you say you are going to do something do it authentically or not at all’.
Our challenge: In all maturing markets market leaders come under pressure as more competitors enter the market, think Uber in ridesharing or Meta in social networks. For iShares the challenge is to ensure that choosing iShares is not a ‘passive’ choice, but an active brand choice for both emotional and rational reasons. Before this campaign there had been little or no focus on building emotional connections only the rational reasons to choose iShares marking a radical shift in our strategy.
The Content Solution
To build emotional connections with investors we need to first provide them with the feeling of trust and reassurance that we will not only get it right today, but we will consistently raise the bar to ensure we never disappoint investors, and we always keep them ahead of their game. This combined with our global brand mission ‘we are champions of investor progress’ led us to the authentic brand truth which has driven the strategic direction of the campaign platform: We are the leader that raises the industry bar, we consistently set new and better standards to enable our clients to find better ways to invest. And that’s why investors can always expect more with iShares. Here was born the campaign line ‘Expect more with iShares’
Turning the key insight into a campaign positioning: Now that we understood the core of professional investors emotional need we looked at the role iShares plays in the European ETF industry, what makes iShares different from competitors and what do they envy, what is ingrained in the culture of a company and why do customers already choose a brand.
Turning a campaign positioning into a comms strategy: Our comms strategy was focused on answering three simple investor questions leveraging the most appropriate channels for the job to be done:
- What values does iShares stand for? Advertising | Social | Comms
- What differentiates iShares & how does that benefit me? Social | Comms | Website
- How can iShares help me? Website | Sales
The focus of the comms strategy was to use awareness driving channels to build emotional connections with investors based on shared values. The focus of the consideration and purchase intent comms channels was to provide the rational support to underpin the emotional connections – providing investors with examples of what differentiates iShares from other ETF providers and show how this benefits them.
Comms approach: The focus of the awareness driving comms was to position iShares as modern, progressive, dynamic, active, forward thinking, quality-driven, confident and ideas driven. While the focus of the consideration levels comms was to provide investors with more rational reasons to choose iShares through our ‘Why iShares’ narrative and proof points:
- More choice designed for clients’ needs
- Higher quality products built for all market conditions
- Bespoke services tailored to clients’ goals
- Bold ideas for tomorrow’s market
The Media/Content Amplification Solution
Our creative approach focused finding a duality in the way that successful investors think and behave, and the way iShares thinks and behaves, building closer emotional connections. We chose these attitudes by looking at the attitudes that drive our key RTBs in question 3 – choice, quality and bold thinking which were converted into our three campaign headlines at the awareness level (see appendix):
- LEADERS NEVER STAND STILL – Choice: We’re always working on what you will need next
- HIGH STANDARDS SHOULD ALWAYS GO UP – Quality: Not all ETFs are created equal, our ETFs are built to last and designed to perform
- NOTHING BIG HAPPENS BY THINKING SMALL – Bold ideas: We are committed to driving the industry forward
While our creative approach primarily focused on connecting with investors on shared values, we also communicated the value of this to investors through messaging which you can see across the channels: Your investment challenges aren’t standing still so neither will we.
Campaign execution: Based on the comms strategy we executed the campaign using bold and impactful placements to further position iShares as a leader. At the awareness level across all markets, we lent heavily into OOH knowing post pandemic we needed to combine a strong digital presence with channels that investors had not necessary engaged with in some time.
Channel execution (see appendix): This included billboards, taxis wraps, sponsorship of T20 at Lords, Wimbledon big screens, station takeovers and 3D billboards in Italy and heavily use of DOOH in and around the Zurich and Frankfurt financial district. Beyond OOH we combined locally driven digital media and print with a centrally driven social, video and native media strategy across not just LinkedIn, but also You Tube, Twitter, Mobkoi engage units, Teads and employee ambassador activations across all markets.
For consideration and purchase intent we focused on providing clients with a simple to navigate web experience towards our priority product segments (ESG, Fixed Income, Thematics) as well as using our internal experts to deliver our ‘Why iShares’ narrative across multiple content focused media channels.
Index More is a campaign that has earned fame Globally and is regularly mentioned by our senior members across the different regions in supporting the growth of the business, in bringing together our different products, services, and solutions to really position clients at the centre of what we offer.
We focus on three levels of campaign effectiveness:
- Enterprise metrics: Brand health metrics which drive business performance.
- Activity level metrics: Performance of specific marketing activities within a campaign vs. internal industry benchmarks e.g., LinkedIn VTRs
- Since the campaign launched (2020 vs. 2022) iShares metrics have increased across the board (See appendix):
- Awareness +2%
- Consideration +32%
- Preference +26%
- Trust +14%
- Leader in ETFs +29%
- Is known for ESG +29%
- Since launch iShares market share has increased from 43% 2021 to 47% YTD (June 2022)
- iShares has the strongest ETF brand health across all major countries in Europe
- 78% of European investors stated iShares was the leader in ETFs
- iShares has strengthened its brand health across all metrics and has a YTD market share of 47% vs. the iShares overall market share of 43% widening the gap with the 2nd largest competitor at 12%.
Activity level KPIs
- While the focus of the campaign measurement is on higher-level brand health measurements, we have still seen very strong activity-level metrics:
- Web Bounce Rate: +5% vs. benchmark (internal)
- Web time on site: +23% vs. benchmark (internal)
- LinkedIn: Post CTR & VTR: +9% vs. benchmark (internal)
- Twitter: Posts CTR & VTR: +3% vs. benchmark (industry)
- Paid search CTR, web engagement & downloads: +14% vs. benchmark (internal)
- Display & video CTR & VTR: +6% (industry)
- Video: 80% VTR (internal) / 24M completed views