Saturday, 9 April 2011

Marketing Travel with Facebook Ads: #1

With the unprecedented move by Expedia to advertising on Facebook, we ask the question: is Facebook Advertising right for Travel? And the best way to answer that is by doing a test. 

Proof of Concept

Objective: To test if we can get Facebook fans to a landing page and establish the cost per fan.  We are not concerned with the effectiveness of the landing page in this stage. That will be evaluated and optimized later. For this test we worked with Errol Griffith of Freemind Institute who had commissioned AXSES to develop the booking portal for Great Barbados Soccer Classic (GBSC). GBSC is a sport tourism invitational for 2012. Errol has negotiate rates with several hotels to participate and with this he is able to offer a discount to Fans. The test campaign could result in some Fan sales going to his hotel, which would be good business for his group. The  test product is deployed using GBSC,  with a bit of tweaking.

Fan Holiday Special: We set up a series of ads for a Caribbean Fan Holiday Promotion, using Toronto, Ontario, Canada as a test market for the proof of concept. Facebook users respond to special offers, we did not test a non special offer, and don't intend to as all the study indicate offers work.

The first ad targeted the Toronto area exclusively. We aimed to display the ad to males and females age 25 and over, within a 50-mile radius of Toronto. With Facebook demographics, we can target those in relationships, single, married, by interest and by education. As Facebook users also describe their interests, we can target those who have an interest in travel, etc. The demographic and social graphics targeting is very detailed and unique.

Estimated Reach:

26,480 people
  • who live in Canada
  • who live within 50 miles of Toronto, ON
  • age exactly 25 and older
  • who like 'i love travel' or 'travel' 

DateImp.Social Clicks CTR (%)Avg. CPC ($) Avg. CPM ($) Spent ($)
04/06/2011151,306 0.0%330.022%0.770.1725.35
04/05/2011203,077 0.0%470.023%0.750.1735.45
558,733 0.0%1270.023%0.760.1796.25

In 2 days, we had half a million impressions, and 127 clicks to the landing page at a total cost of $96.25 USD, or less that a Dollar a click. A pretty good rate for a hot search item, and a lot less than it would cost on search advertising.

So far, a good proof of concept. We consulted our Facebook Guru, Martin Maybrook, who agreed it was a good market, but we needed next to work on the target and the landing page. Martin liked the idea of offering a Facebook Fan Special -"all Fans like the idea that they are special"- but seeing as we only were featuring Barbados, he suggested doing another ad for Barbados only.  In this, we added the Discount. The number of Facebookers who like Barbados is far smaller, so in order to grow the market, we made this ad available to all in Ontario, Canada.

1,960 people
  • who live in Canada
  • who live in Ontario
  • age exactly 25 and older
  • who like Barbados

DateImp.Social %ClicksCTR (%)Avg. CPC ($)Avg. CPM ($)Spent ($)

For about $100, we have completed the proof of concept, defined a lively target market and a successful ad and ad copy. We will tweak the ad by running many split tests, where we vary the message and the image. At the same time, we will begin to build a conversion strategy and an effective landing page. These campaigns will give Hotels the option to advertise to a focused  Facebook marketplace with managed campaigns that deliver direct business.

Facebook users like to stay on Facebook. We want to restrict the special only to new fans and we want to build a fan base. So we will run several ads with options for people to 'Like'.

The best strategy is to get users to link to a fan page were they must 'like' the page in order to get the special fan offer; similar to what we are doing with our SmartphoneTraveller marketing. Here the users is invited to click 'Like' to become a Fan.

On clicking 'Like', the page changes to a Fan Offer (on Facebook),  which links to the sign-up page. These are Business to Business ads, which so far do not seem to be performing well on Facebook.

The Business to Consumer Travels ads are, however, doing very well, as noted above.

AXSES, our Facebook Hotel and Tourism Application that adds hotels rates, room, photos and brand info onto Facebook pages, now has over 350 active monthly users, and those hotels who offer fan specials are seeing good value in booking from their Facebook pages.

Facebook certainly has come of age for Travel!
What you notice with Facebook advertising is that it is Instant! As soon as the ad is published, you get results. Ads on search engines, by comparison, will take several days to get approved and to get results.

Stay tuned - Next we will optimize the Facebook Holiday Specials - Create target ads for Themes, like romance and adventure, and invite our Facebook clients to participate in targeted and tested campaigns.

Contact us for a campaign designed just for you, or to be included in our next group marketing on Facebook.

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