Deeper look at data boosts sales for travel retailer

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Client: On The Beach
Agency: I Spy
Objective: Online travel retailer wanted to improved target holiday travel ads on Facebook

The marketers at UK-based online travel retailer On The Beach thought Facebook ads would be a great way to promote their holiday deals, but were not getting the results they wanted. For instance, ads for trips to Ibiza, the Canary Islands and other getaways were placed on the pages of fans of the respective destinations, but the click-through rates were not justifying the ad spend.

“The ads weren't particularly working in driving people to book holidays,” says Conrad Edkins, head of search at On The Beach. However, after seeing a presentation by digital agency I Spy about its Upcast advertising technology, which uses the network's API data and Google Analytics to get detailed demographic data in placing ads, Edkins had a change of heart.

“I said, ‘In this case it might be worth another try,'” he said.

STRATEGY: I Spy's analysts looked at click-through rates for the On The Beach ads for variables like age, time of day and geographical location.

They determined that women ages 45 to 54 years old had higher click-through rates than any other demographic group, and that those in northwest England, as opposed to Scotland or London, were particularly responsive. Therefore, the company shifted ad dollars towards these higher-performing groups. The same was done for the times the ads ran and the images used in them.

“That really improved the performance of the campaign,” says Grant Muckle, managing director at I Spy Labs. “It helped to lower the cost-per-click and improve the quality score of the ads, delivering the performance at a lower cost.”

RESULTS: At first look, On The Beach was not thrilled with the results. They generated only 15.8% more revenue than they had spent on advertising through clicks directly from Facebook. But in addition to these last-click sales, Upcast also pulled data from the conversions from users who clicked on the Facebook ad earlier in their purchase history, then returned and booked a holiday trip.

“A traditional analytics package would attribute the sale to Google or Yahoo or wherever the last place was the person clicked,” says Muckle. “But it was the Facebook ad that was generating the demand and first click in the sale path.”

In 10 times more cases, Facebook was the first channel interacted with rather than the last in travel purchases. Taking this into account, the ads had led directly or indirectly to just more than a 100% return in revenue, according to On The Beach.

“Without Upcast being able to target demographics and geographic locations, without the Google Analytics attribution channel, we would have thought it hadn't worked,” says Edkins. “When working in digital advertising, people have got to look at the bigger picture and not just look at the last-click stats.”

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