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The Ticket to Programmatic Success in the Travel Industry

Written by Charlotte | 12-Oct-2016 13:48:12

Whether your audience is at the dreaming, planning, booking or experiencing stage of their travel decision-making process a programmatic display strategy can help connect you with your prospective customers in the moments that matter.

If you’re in the marketing profession, especially in digital, then it is hard to avoid the buzz word that is Programmatic. It’s a term that is dominating the digital marketing industry and that’s because it can add real value to your marketing efforts, in acquisition, customer retention and building brand. Programmatic can help provide new opportunities to connect with your audience through the entire customer journey, across device and channels.

At a basic level, programmatic is about the automation of the buying and selling of digital display media. It has evolved as a response to changing media consumption habits but also in response to a growing need for advertisers to become more accountable for their media investments and the impact they make to the bottom line. Programmatic can help deliver this level of insight and transparency but ultimately it is about creating the opportunity for brands to engage in near real-time with connected and unique audiences. The vast amount of data that is available in order to tailor communications and be far more targeted in who to show ads to, where and when is an opportunity not to be missed. It is this clever use of data that is transforming programmatic into a premium digital marketing channel.

Programmatic: a key destination for travel brands

The travel industry is known for its dynamic customer base and competitive nature and therefore lends itself well to a programmatic approach; I’d go further and suggest adoption of programmatic could help shift the industries reliance away from online travel agencies. Through customised audience targeting, you can reach a desired audience based on interest and behaviours and even utilise your 1st party data to re-engage with your customers, locate new ones who look the same or use it to sell additional products and services, for example upgraded seat reservations following a flight booking.

Knowing who your audiences are, and being able to organise the data that you have is key to programmatic success. At equimedia we connect customer data, audience segmentation and profiling to our programmatic efforts which helps us achieve higher levels of targeting, relevance, impact and cost efficiency. In travel, knowing if a user is a regular booker vs a user who is simply browsing can inform what creative messaging you use, how much you are prepared to pay to be visible and how frequently you wish to communicate with them. Being able to segment your audience into customer and prospect segments and build in granularity of targeting, bid strategy and creative messaging can give you a competitive advantage, especially when creative is designed to reflect who they are and where they are in their relationship with you.

As well as utilising your own 1st party data there are lots of other rich sources of data that can be used to execute a successful programmatic campaign. Weather data is one of these and where we have seen real innovation and personalisation. Utilising a weather API to send signals to your programmatic campaign can enable brands to target their audience based on current conditions. For example, a ski resort in Vermont, Canada used weather signals to trigger their ads so that when it was snowing in Vermont, an ad for the resort would be targeted to users in nearby New York. Another great example is that of Red Roof Inn in the US who were able to combine intent with context to address a specific need by developing a way to track flight delays in near real time and use this data to trigger targeted ads for their hotels near airports.

A weather inspired ad Rich Media ad from Expedia;

Programmatic is all about being relevant and identifying the moments that matter. You may have heard Google talk about ‘I want to go away’ moments or ‘I want to book’ moments and that what happens in these moments ultimately affects the travel decision-making process. A lot of planning goes into travelling and people are increasingly turning to their devices for help and their mobiles when they are on the go, making informed decisions faster than ever before.

Programmatic can determine where a user’s geographical location is and where they are in the booking process. From this crucial insight advertisers can then serve the most relevant content to that user. There are some great examples out there of travel brands doing this well. Emirates launched a programmatic campaign that dynamically targets users based on their previous search behaviour. Pools of users were identified who showed an interest in flying as well as experiences that mattered to them the most, such as service on board, free Wi-Fi and kids entertainment. This data about users interests was then turned into two interactive videos targeted programmatically. This is a great example of the more relevant and better timed the communication, the more interested a user will become.

The future is bright for travel brands entering into the programmatic space and with the technology evolving and expanding into interactive billboards, beacons and wearable tech the opportunity to connect and with your customers can only grow.

If you would like to find out more about equimedia’s programmatic offering and how we work within the travel sector, please get in touch.

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