Financial Planning-Retirement Advertising on TV and in Paid Search

Over a 90-day period, from October 24, 2018 through January 21, 2019, Kantar Media examined advertising for financial planning/retirement services on television and in paid search.

Fidelity Tops Television Spending

Advertisers spent $38.8 million on U.S. national and cable television ads promoting financial planning/retirement services during the 90-day period according to Kantar Media data.


Of those, Fidelity was the leading spender, devoting $11.7 million primarily to spots promoting its promise to help keep its clients “moving forward”, as well as an ad encouraging viewers to move their old 401K’s to a Fidelity IRA.

Pacific Life ranked second with $7.3 million in national and cable TV spend for commercials promoting the respective themes of having “the flexibility to retire on your terms” and helping you “retire without retiring from life”.
Voya Financial rounded out the top three with $6.5 million in spend on a series of four commercials featuring its squirrel and rabbit mascots ensuring retirees and their children that Voya “stays with you to and through retirement”.


Trade Group and Prudential Lead Google

To assess leadership in paid search, we analyzed the most clicked advertisers on U.S. Google desktop and mobile search for 65 popular financial planning/retirement keywords, including ‘financial advisor’, ‘retirement plans’, ‘retirement investment’ and ‘certified financial planner’., a trade organization site that encourages consumers to work with a Certified Financial Planner, led in desktop clicks with a very strong 15.1% click share while also ranking fourth in mobile search with an 8.9% click share. Reversing roles, Prudential led in mobile, gaining 11% of all clicks on the keyword group while ranking fourth in desktop with 9.2% of clicks.

Morgan Stanley ranked second in both desktop and mobile search with a respective 12% and 9.6% click share. Merrill Lynch ranked third with 9.7% of desktop clicks on the keyword group, while also placing sixth with 8.4% of clicks, while John Hancock ranked third in mobile (9.4% click share) and fifth in desktop (7.7% click share).

TV or Search?


Interestingly, the top TV advertisers did not figure prominently in paid search ads and vice versa, highlighting the differing advertising strategies among leading financial planning and retirement service providers.

For instance, Fidelity was the clear leader in TV advertising but ranked just eleventh in desktop search with a 2% click share and eighth in mobile search with a 3.4% click share. Similarly, Prudential was a top search advertiser as noted above but ranked seventh in TV with less than one-tenth of the ad spend of TV ad leader Fidelity.
The second and third top TV spenders, Pacific Life and Voya, did not have a significant presence in paid search, while search leaders Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch and John Hancock did not advertise on television during the period.
TD Ameritrade, Edward Jones and Ameriprise Financial were the only other providers to appear in both the TV and paid search rankings, according to Kantar Media data.

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