• Travel data for tourism growth

Serving an ad to somebody who’s currently planning a holiday in New Zealand is a game-changer.

Right place, right time with personalised, engaging creative: You can’t beat it. Programmatic display, done right, has the power to next-level your digital activity, create demand and drive more people through the conversion funnel. The result? Online sales increases that make a real impact on your bottom line.

What is Programmatic?

Programmatic is essentially the tech behind automated ads that are shown to people based on previous browsing or booking data. It’s a way to pinpoint people at a certain time in their travel planning journey to ‘plant the seed’ of your tourism offering. Once they’ve visited your site – and if they haven’t converted – then programmatic ads also follow them round the Internet, serving a different message based on the content they looked at on your website, in an effort to convince them to book.

Not all data is created equally

Ad recall (how well people remember an ad or brand) is 337% higher at the beginning of travellers’ purchase journey, when they arrive at their destination, compared to the middle or end.

Because this ‘first mover’ advantage is so vital, working with a platform that can tailor its approach to reach people at the exact point they arrive at the destinations is key to influencing travel behaviour. This is achieved through granular, postcode-level geo-targeting.

Automation also allows for personalisation. Through automation, this customer discovery process is instant. Previous individual audience data about destination searches, website visits and specifics around travel research creates an opportunity for brands to identify what a valuable experience looks like at a very granular level.

Think serving a certain ad set to a family flying into Auckland Airport verses a retired couple – what’s going to work for one audience isn’t going to work for the other. Very few platforms offer capability to personalise creative like this.

This depth of detail is the most effective way of creating long-term brand connection – research shows that 67% of leisure travellers feel more loyal toward a travel company that shares information during their trip that is personalised, therefore improving their travel experience.

The User Journey

Programmatic works in the upper to middle level of the online travel conversion funnel – awareness/interest – to serve ads to people that are highly likely to be interested in your experience.

Basing campaign platform planning on the travel conversion funnel ensures you’re serving the right ad to the right user at the right time in the process.

Using data collected based on browsing and booking behaviour, targeting might look like:

  • Serve dynamic, moving ads to mothers of school age children from the West Coast of America with flights booked to NZ during autumn. Serve a family-specific travel message (this might look like a child moving on a zip line with the tagline ‘Family memories to last a lifetime’)
  • Once the user has been to the site and visited the Families Package page, serve them ads as soon as possible after they’ve landed in AIA, but change the messaging to ‘Don’t miss out – book your Family Package today’

We use online insights from travel research behaviour to plan campaigns like this one. From these insights, we might know that American families tend to firm up their itinerary and book activities between 2 and 4 months out from their flight date. So – we’ll implement a campaign that is served to them during this time period in order for it to be most effective.

Approach it holistically, or not at all

On its own, Programmatic is not overly effective. Programmatic ads ensure the target user is made aware of the tourism experience while they’re planning their itinerary, but without further nurturing through the funnel – think AdWords, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube – they are unlikely to convert. We see best results when Programmatic is implemented within a holistic paid media campaign framework.

Not all Programmatic service providers are equal

To do the best job possible, a Programmatic ad must convey the right message at the correct point in the user journey. Data is all well and good but if it’s the wrong ad with the wrong message at an odd time, it’s not going to make an impact on travel behaviour – and is likely to do more harm to your brand reputation than good.

Maverick Digital is the preferred tourism-marketing agency for Crimtan, a market-leading global platform that combines three key sets of data:

  • Audience data – eg family travellers who are researching travel to NZ
  • Creative data – the ability to serve a different creative to the same user based on where they are in the user journey
  • Investment data – salary and geographical targeting that can segment at postcode level (helpful when you want to get in front of a traveller walking through the doors of Auckland Airport!)

One of the key reasons we work with Crimtan is their partnership with the Expedia travel network. By accessing Expedia’s global travel data – including actual bookings and travel searches – we’re able to reach an audience that has been pre-qualified as people who are about to visit New Zealand.

There’s also the Adara travel data network – which isn’t as granular and specific as Crimtan’s network capabilities, but can be used in collaboration to strengthen travel bookings on first touch.

What does it cost?

This type of targeting doesn’t come cheap and on first glance can seem expensive compared to other paid media options. However, tourism operators and organisations really start to see value when it is implemented alongside a holistic digital approach that includes AdWords, Facebook and organic activity.

Programmatic should be part of a full-funnel approach and not treated in silo.

  • Minimum spend of $8,000 + GST per month for a 3-month campaign
  • Adara is $10,000 minimum spend for managed desk media placement, which is needed for more granular targeting

Budget and spend should be worked out with acquisition targets in mind: First, articulate what success looks like, then work out conversion rates, cost per acquisition and visitor numbers needed in order to achieve this.

Read the press release announcing our partnership with Crimtan here. 

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