Facebook has recently rolled out ‘Dynamic Ads for Travel’ (DAT) that will allow airlines to effectively advertise on the platform, as well as on Instagram, its sister brand. So we can expect to see airlines investing more of their advertising budgets in social media – where hotels and destinations have been for a while – possibly moving funds from Google and other search platforms.
Generally, results from social advertising seem to be outstripping those from search or re-targeting – with higher ROI and lower cost per acquisition being the main drivers of change. A recent Skift article mentions Melia Hotels, gaining a return on investment 6.7 times higher versus its legacy re-targeting campaign when using Facebook’s dynamic ads for hotels, as well as Cathay Pacific, seeing reductions in cost per acquisition of 15% using DAT, whilst increasing its booking volumes by 16 times.
Social media gold rush?
So, will we now see a stampede away from “legacy” search strategies towards paid social media strategies? Very possibly. But, I think it would be worth any organisation tempted by this new opportunity to keep one eye on the areas that are being abandoned, as those may well throw up some opportunities of their own in the months or years ahead.
Think about it. Google depends on high levels of competition amongst its customers to drive up bids and so make gazillions of dollars in profit. If those customers start moving budgets away, then there’s a chance those bids will start to decline as competition across those platforms declines. But, consumers will still be using Google as a prime search channel – of course they will – so therein lies the opportunity. Do your competitor research. If your competitive set is investing heavily in social, then look at your bid strategy and see if you can improve results and drive down costs.
This sort of trend occurs over and over. In a world when “digital” has become ubiquitous for example, many brands have successfully returned to more traditional forms of marketing – such as dropping pieces of beautifully crafted paper dropping through potential customers’ letterboxes. Some (unofficial) stats report that over 90% of direct mail gets opened and nearly 50% of recipients respond in some way. But, for those of you looking for digital conversions, it’s also reported that direct mail drives web visits.
Trust in real-world marketing
In a world where anyone can set up a website and purport to be a successful, trustworthy business with little or nothing to back up their claims, there is a certain trustworthiness to be had in offline marketing channels that potential customers may respond to. In a previous highly-digital role, I decided to take the brand out to market by way of appearing at travel shows – a move that was questioned at the time by a digitally-focused leadership team. But, that move set the tone for the brand going forward, gave us a whole new market of customers who were prepared to deal with people, but not pixels, and is a strategy the brand continues to pursue today, some six years later.
Market where the market is
The point I am making is that brands need to consider where their customers are and their competitors aren’t – or be prepared to spend to stand out. Find the white space in the crowd, don’t focus on channel (digital OR offline), but focus on the customer and the message that will best resonate with them wherever they are and at whatever point in their personal journey they are. Be open to change but if you want to be part of the pack, make sure you’re leading it and not following it.