Bolder Thinking Blog

New Year, New NerdWallet ‘Best-Of’ Awards: Who made the cut?

January 28th, 2020 | Lierin Ehmke

NerdWallet recently announced its Best Of 2020 Awards, and brands are already making the most of the coveted green banner endorsement. As NerdWallet increasingly becomes the go-to source for personal finance advice, its endorsement serves as a ticket to the Millennial and Gen Z market. And this relationship is symbiotic: NerdWallet’s ‘Best-Of’ awards give great exposure to FSIs- and vice versa- as NerdWallet receives great exposure through advertising from FSIs.  While the awards served to highlight the best within personal finance, the annual awards allowed NerdWallet to receive free advertising from the brands that tout the endorsement.

So, which brands won?

2020 was the year of legacy brands: many established institutions like Discover, Chase, and Charles Schwab won big. Discover, in particular, scored big in banking, credit cards, and personal loans. And Discover didn’t let this recognition go unnoticed…

2020 winners’ responses proved the award’s value. 

Immediately following the announcement, select brands launched ad campaigns to show off the awards. Mere days after the announcement, Discover launched a $120k YouTube video campaign to show off the recognition, and other brands like Chime, US Bank, and Marcus took to paid and owned Facebook campaigns to spread the message. While no-cost channels like owned social are a common strategy for announcing new endorsements, the immediate investment in paid channels like video and paid Facebook indicates the effectiveness these awards have in generating new customers.

In particular, Discover’s response should be lauded: Its timeliness and investment in broad-reach advertising helped the brand stand out even more among the competition.

FSIs used NerdWallet for head-to-head comparisons. 

Historically, brands invested in direct mail and paid Facebook to highlight the NerdWallet endorsement. In 2019, brands primarily diffused the message via direct mail to increase the longevity of the endorsement, largely beginning in May. 

Marcus, notably, leveraged the endorsement throughout the year, using the award as an opportunity to provide direct comparisons to the competition. 

What we think

Big banks won big for NerdWallet’s ‘Best Of’ awards, providing an excellent opportunity for these legacy brands to beat out fintechs and acquire younger consumers. According to Mintel research, Millennials crave recommendations when picking out a brand, and NerdWallet has made a business attracting Millennial and Gen Z users to its site. Legacy brands should use this to their advantage- either through touting the awarded ‘Best Of’ green banner, or highlighting the reviews from NerdWallet and other personal finance sites. Providing these third party reviews can help equip younger consumers with the recommendation they are looking for in order to commit to a brand. 

Lierin Ehmke

Lierin Ehmke

Lierin is a Senior Digital Marketing Analyst at Comperemedia. Lierin is responsible for producing syndicated and custom reports and providing omnichannel insights that enable clients to thrive within the digital space across a range of industry sectors.