Consumers prefer to be educated rather than be marketed at in online ads about personal finance.

According to’s 2010 Business and Finance Study, financial services company can educate consumers about how to manage their finances through online advertisements and this can help consumers achieve financial goals.

The study, conducted online in October, examined what consumers prefer in personal finance ads, what makes those ads most effective and what brands can do to attract new customers. Overall, it was found that the Internet is enabling consumers to take charge of their finances in diverse ways from saving to starting a small business.

“When it comes to personal finance, more than half of the respondents indicated they prefer online ads that teach them about how to manage their finances,” said Evan Minskoff, the vice president of marketing at the About Group. “If a marketer’s ad message directly addresses a consumer’s need, in this case how to manage personal finances, then the brand being advertised can become an active part of that person’s solution. This reciprocal relationship is crucial for brand loyalty.”

Thirty-two percent of respondents indicated they prefer ads with promotions and coupons, and 30% prefer ads with printable tips. The most effective online financial ads are relevant to content on the page (43%), funny (28%), and visually appealing (23%).

As a result of seeing a personal finance ad, 58% did more research and comparison shopped online, 46% visited an advertiser’s Web site, 30% recommended product or service to family and friends, 24% printed out the ad or coupon, and 15% bought the product or subscribed to the service.

Consumers are increasingly taking charge of their own finances by using online resources and 70 % are confident in doing so. Seventy percent of respondents also said they go online at least once a month to seek financial information and 48% seek more information online weekly. Consumers also look to financial professionals (48%) and family/friends (42%) for advice.