Ally Bank CMO: Virtual reality is a personal finance teaching tool

Ally Bank just closed out a personal finance experiment using storied board game Monopoly as a launch pad for financial literacy.

Andrea Brimmer, chief marketing officer, Ally Financial

Earlier this month, Ally Bank launched the Ally + Monopoly game, which allowed customers and potential clients to engage with the brand through a digital version of the popular board game.

The move aligns with Ally’s unorthodox approach to product marketing, with previous campaigns using geofencing and augmented reality to encourage behavioral changes.

“The whole thing was kind of constructed to make people money mindful and to think about financial literacy and do it in a way that is enjoyable,” said Andrea Brimmer, chief marketing officer at Ally.

“It’s not being shoved at you, but it’s part of the game and it’s part of the journey.”

The Ally + Monopoly used augmented reality to create a financial literacy game designed like a scavenger hunt where players learned ways to save money and win cash prizes. The live game was launched in 6 cities: Seattle, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit and New York. Users played the game on mobile phones and follow clues to local landmarks. Players outside of the cities could play on Ally’s website. The campaign ran throughout October and closed this week.

Ally partnered with board game developer Hasbro on the digital scavenger hunt game. Within it, a “Mr. Monopoly character” from the board game popped up on phone screens and offered financial advice such as how much money could by saved by packing a lunch instead of ordering out.  

Players across the country won up to $50,000 in cash or prizes that included a Jeep Wrangler and other prizes totaling $1 million. 

See also: No one-trick pony: How Ally got to $100b in deposits

According to Brimmer, the game helped some players think about savings and other long-term financial goals. She explained that when the game was live this month, Ally’s website also saw a spike in traffic, especially for their savings products like CD accounts. 

A 2018 Aite Group study outlined that approaches like Ally Bank’s Monopoly scavenger hunt can help engage bank customers, since 79% of 22-to-34-year-old consumers and 77% of 35-to-49-year-old consumers indicated that they are moderately to extremely interested in using a virtual financial wellness coach. 

According to Ally, a recent survey carried out for the bank by Harris Poll found that of more than 2,000 U.S. adults 18 and over, 81% of them said money-related board games were helpful in teaching basic money concepts. The survey also found that a little more than 70% of consumers who played money-related games as children said that doing so made them more comfortable with money-related concepts. 

Tiffani Montez, senior analyst at Aite Group agreed that gamification is an especially innovative way for banks to engage younger customers through their parents, but noted that the game didn’t seem to touch upon how financial wellness tips will help customers over time. 

“I think one of the things that’s still missing is how do educate someone in real time about how their everyday decisions impact their financial lives,” she explained. “It’ll be interesting to see how well it helps someone, not only educate them, but put that education into action.” 

Brimmer pointed out that the virtual reality financial wellness game is a first for the bank, and customers and interested players will have the opportunity to win prizes and learn more financial wellness tips with the next iteration of the game next year. 

“It was a great start right out of the gate and it’ll be fun to see how we evolve it forward,” she said. “But it really is about finding disruptive ways to engage the consumer that makes [financial learning] fun.” 

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