15 May 2019 Courier Apr/May 2019

Mortgage media: How Habito finessed its TV adverts

It took several attempts at advertising for proptech company Habito to start seeing a return on investment.

When online mortgage broker Habito launched in 2015, advertising wasn’t on its mind. It wasn’t until two years later that it decided to run its first campaign. In the year-and-a-half since then, Habito has run two creative concepts across three bursts of advertising activity, and learnt a lot along the way.

Television debut

The startup’s first campaign, which came out in September 2017, ran across TV and out-of-home advertising – but three months in, and the results were looking a little flat.

The Habito team decided to take a step back and figure out what was going wrong. They used eye-tracking research to work out what people were looking at in the advert and for how long. It became clear that while the campaign was supposed to explain what was so unique about the site’s mortgage-finding algorithm – most viewers didn’t even really know what an algorithm was to start with. 

The voice over was tweaked to explain the concept more clearly, and Habito embarked on a second run of the campaign, placing ads on TV channels including ITV. Abba Newbery, chief marketing officer at Habito, says that from there, things went much better. ‘The second time it ran, we actually had to stop advertising due to too much demand.’

Take three

In September 2018, the company has followed up with its third campaign, complete with new artwork. The ‘Hell or Habito’ campaign ran across Sky TV, using the network’s Sky AdSmart tool which allows adverts to be shown in specific households. Habito also ran a considered outdoor poster campaign, targeting postcodes that had the most activity in the housing market. Finally, this activity was supported by search PPC advertising as well as some social media content.

It’s almost been a case of third time lucky. Without increasing media spend, but using data to inform and refine its strategy, Habito has seen double the return on its previous campaigns, while it now having the resources in place to keep up with increased web traffic.

‘The message worked harder, and our media deployment is better,’ Newbery says. ‘Now we know what TV channels work best for us, as well as what days of the week and times of day those TV spots should take.’ 

Being able to service any demand driven by advertising has been key too, Newbery explains. ‘Our product is better. We’ve got more mortgage experts [available] to speak to customers, and we have automated more so we can deal with demand that we’re creating.’

Agency advice

This success has come from a lot of planning. According to Newbery, working with media agency Goodstuff from the beginning was vital to not only support the logistics of buying TV spots, and out-of-home advetising, but in helping inform the strategy Habito put in place. The agency also had access to analysis tools which Habito would have been unlikely to invest in alone.

‘The media environment is complex and constantly shifting,’ Newbery explains. ‘You need smart media people to help you make those good big investment decisions.’

Particularly when it came to figuring out which data points would be the most valuable to the success of its campaign, Habito needed some extra help. ‘[Goodstuff recommended that we use] land registry data to find the fastest moving postcodes in terms of the housing market in London, and we took ads out at specific tube stations to capture that audience,’ Newbery says.