Driving Direct Bookings: How To Target Right Travellers.

By DARREN Mathers

Today, the idea of an online session as we know it is over – we no longer “go online”, we now live online; always on, always connected. The expanse of mobile devices has made it easier to find, to do or to buy what we want, when we want. And for those in the travel industry, there has never been a better opportunity to convert the right person with the right message at the right time, every time.

In the typical online booking journey, your business can only be relevant if it shows up, whether by your website in search, shared in a social media feed or being found in a list of competitors on an OTA/Meta site.

In this article, you’ll learn why you should grow your direct bookings with programmatic advertising.

Programmatic Advertising?

Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising efforts require you to first identify a website or network you want to advertise on—like a travel blog, Bing, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, etc. 

By placing an advertisement on these websites via PPC, you’re making the assumption that people who are interested in your service are going to this website/network. You could be right, but you also could be wrong. Either way, you’re limited to their available inventory, targeting and pricing.

However, with programmatic, you target the traveler not the site. You find the user wherever they are. You then bid on the impression to capture that user while they’re engaged with that webpage, app or network. 

In this way, it’s not about finding the right place to engage, it’s about finding the right individual to engage with. You then serve them an ad that matches the experience they want with the services you offer. 

Sounds Complicated?

Using programmatic advertising is a breeze, and mostly less complicated than setting up and monitoring a campaign in Google AdWords, although it wasn’t always as simple. 

Now becoming a part of the mainstream, programmatic providers are making their platforms more adaptable to small business owners. Building a programmatic advertising platform is a different story but that is why we are here 😊 to do it for you.

Firstly, once setup, your marketing becomes entirely automated through the use of machine learning. Simply put, the platform buys and bids on digital advertising space across millions of websites and networks using real-time bidders. Now you can run the same campaign across, Google AdWords, Facebook Ads and many more all from one place.

Secondly, programmatic is data driven and once programmed will become aware of success and failure in your campaigns. In the same way you adjust your PPC campaigns to get better results, the programmatic bidders also react to the results and change your targeting and bidding spend to get better conversions. The only difference is that the bidders monitor thousands of data points a second, making them more efficient than you.

Sounds Expensive?

Nope, wrong again. The best thing about programmatic advertising is the increased targeting capabilities that reduce your wasted clicks, allowing your campaigns to show to [only] intent driven travellers, reducing ad spend per click. Plus, by showing ads to the right people at the right time you’ll also your ROI for ad spend.

Further, by reacting to data across multiple exchanges, the bidders collate profiles of individuals that meet a certain level of intent. Whether they booked flights, are coming to port on a cruise ship, maybe they hired a car and are passing through. It’s all relevant data that helps match the user to your service at the lowest ad spend.

Even further, with cookie recognition, the bidders understand whether the user is travelling with the kids, in-laws, golf buddies or just for work. Maybe they read an article, told their social feed, visited your competitors website or peeked at dates and pricing on an OTA, it’s all relevant.

Using cookies to identify a users behaviour is the first step to paying only for effective ads. This is a huge change from traditional ad buying, where you’d normally predefine limited audience targeting traits, often leading to over or under exposing your ads.

Types Of Programmatic?

Generally speaking, there are only two campaigns to programmatic advertising. The first is prospecting, where you look for travellers who’ve met a certain level of intent from their online behaviour. Prospecting is a highly important tactic because it identifies a new audience that have little way of knowing who you are.

The second is retargeting, where you serve ads to people who have already visited your website and meet the level of intent set within your prospecting campaigns. With only 2% of visitors booking on their first visit to your site, it’s important that you have a strong retargeting strategy to bring travellers back at the right time in their booking journey.

At Discovr Bookings we create two more types of campaign that combine everything that is great about programmatic. Intervening is very similar to prospecting, where we match users that are currently part of an OTA or competitor booking journey and target them with personalised ads.

The big difference is that intervening campaigns read your availability before targeting, ensuring that the dates the user wants are available or in the event of moving your distressed inventory, offer a promotion.

Look-alike is our second type of campaign that tracks your customers after they made a booking. They won’t see ads but we follow them for 30 days, automatically building a target profile that will let us reach more people like them – this type of campaign uses zero clicks and is therefore free.

Why Programmatic?

While traditional digital marketing efforts revolve around Search and Meta/OTA sites, programmatic is a great way for you to create more engagement on your direct channels.

Given that, on any single day 80+% of your customers are likely to be new customers, it’s important that you constantly work on reaching new audiences and bring them to you. The industry is getting much busier and waiting for them to find you isn’t the answer anymore.

Plus, for most, using OTAs is a suitable option but with commissions increasing around the world, it won’t be long before before they are increasing yours too. For basis, on average a conversion after three months of programmatic is generally 8-12x cheaper than your OTA commissions.

Ultimately, every day, your audience is filling their days with hundreds if not thousands of micro-interactions online. As consumers spread their attention across more and more screens and channels, immersing themselves among more and more options, those interactions when reacted to correctly, allow you reach and engage with qualified leads, further increasing your direct bookings and reducing dependancy of commission based marketing. 



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