How Banks Distributed $4M to Reach Aspiring Entrepreneurs

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December 17, 2021
Financial Services

Key Takeaways

Banks do not aggressively leverage paid advertising to reach entrepreneurs - only four brands in the competitive set ran digital ads to attract entrepreneurs’ attention (RBC, CIBC, Futurprener, and BDC).

  • Budget Distribution – Only 4 Companies Invested Advertising Dollars to Promote Their Services to Entrepreneurs:BDC invested ~$2M to run digital ads, while Ownr (by RBC) spent ~$1M between January and November 2021. During the same time, Futurpreneur spent $124K and CIBC invested $5K to drive traffic to one article on its Biz Hub Section. All companies deployed a campaign-based approach, where they would invest larger amounts to run focused campaigns rather than maintain equal monthly spend. Both Ownr and BDC amplified their spending in Q4, while Futurpreneur increased its spending in August 2021.
  • Channels – Social Media (Facebook) Advertising is a Predominant Channel: Facebook saw the largest investment from the companies in the competitive set. Futurpreneur invested all of its digital ad budgets to run ads on Facebook, whereas Ownr spent 83% and BDC 65% of their total budgets to promote their services Facebook ads. At the same time, CIBC focused on running display ads, where 60% of the budget was spent on desktop and 40% on mobile display ads.
  • Messaging – Companies in the Competitive Set Test Various Ad Messaging Accompanied by the Same Visuals: It’s very common for companies to build credibility by highlighting the number of businesses they helped to launch. For example, in January 2021, Ownr’s ad stated that “25,000+ Canadian businesses” rely on their services and in November 2021 the company updated the ad copy to say “45,000+ businesses…”.

Only four companies in the competitive set run digital ads to attract entrepreneurs’ attention.

Spend is a directional approximation and does not include retargeting, behavioural targeting, advertising on Twitter and Instagram.

RBC only invests in paid advertising for Ownr. Since the beginning of 2021, the bank didn’t run any ads neither to its stand-alone RBCx website nor the Consumer Data Insights section on its main website.

Since the beginning of 2021, RBC spent $937K to promote Ownr. The company has significantly increased its spending in Q3, investing $283K in digital advertising in October alone.

Spend is a directional approximation and does not include retargeting, behavioural targeting, advertising on Twitter and Instagram.

Ownr invested $255K (23% of its total advertising spend) in ads that called entrepreneurs to “register or incorporate with Ownr” and “focus on running their business.” The company leveraged various visuals to accompany the same value proposition. Register or incorporate in minutes with Ownr — so you can focus on running your business.

Throughout the year, Ownr continuously invested in ads highlighting the number of Canadian businesses working with Ownr. Between January and November 2021, the company spent $203K to run these ads. [45,000+] Canadian businesses trust Ownr to start, manage, and grow their dreams.


Ownr directed the majority of its ad traffic to lead to the Get Started page, followed by the homepage.  

Get Started, Homepage, Free eBook

CIBC invested a small amount ($5K) of advertising dollars to drive traffic to its Biz Hub section.

The bank relied on desktop advertising, splitting its budget between desktop (60%) and mobile (40%) ads.  

Spend is a directional approximation and does not include retargeting, behavioural targeting, advertising on Twitter and Instagram.

CIBC’s efforts were focused on driving visits to a story about an entrepreneur who opened a business after the pandemic. The bank tested two copy captions, both leading to the same article.

CIBC invested 40% of its total budget to place display ads on The Globe and Mail website, followed by other news media sites — The Guardian and Washington Post.

Futurepreneur spent $124K on digital ads between January and November 2021, focusing mainly on Facebook ads. 

Spend is a directional approximation and does not include retargeting, behavioural targeting, advertising on Twitter and Instagram.

The company spent 73% ($90K) of its total message to promote ads highlighting the number of businesses they helped. 

Another popular tactic used by Futurpreneur in Facebook ads is to ask questions. The company leads with easy questions many young entrepreneurs can relate to.

BDC invested almost $2M in 2021 in digital advertising, spending 65% of its budget on Facebook ads, 19% on desktop, and 14% on mobile display ads. 

Spend is a directional approximation and does not include retargeting, behavioural targeting, advertising on Twitter and Instagram.

The bank aimed to build awareness of its services by calling entrepreneurs to rely on BDC’s expert advice and focus on “moving their business forward.” This message was supported by a $468K spend, which equates to 23% of BDC’s total digital spend. Get expert advice to help you keep growing and moving your business forward.

Other ads backed by significant investment promoted expert financial and strategic advisory services.


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