Facebook Dynamic Ads for Travel is a game changer

Online travel landscape is a bit like the movie Highlanders.

Lots of contestants, all fighting for the same fable prize: just replace chopping heads until you’re the last standing immortal with getting customer’s to book with them! And despite all other web-related actions, search was on a not so long past the very best choice in terms of marketing budget ROI.


Highlander Connor MacLeod


How come? Well, search is (as you’re about to see, not sure if it still is…) closer to conversion.


Explaining why search is so conversion oriented


When you’re searching, you are probably in an interest/consideration mode and that is deeper on the purchase funnel and closer to the conversion than any other web-related activities.


Why point the obvious? To help you understand Google’s importance on driving large scale travel revenue, especially on a last click attribution model.


Whether we’re talking about Macro or Micro conversions, Google has all the tools to help you and has made everything on its power to create an environment prone to its paid search ads model AdWords: by increase paid ads search visibility, by encouraging competitiveness between announcers and consequently monetizing all of this.


In fact, and on a global scale, except for China, Google as long taken the “cutting heads…there shall be only one” approach and almost completely owns the search engine scenario.


To be completely exact in September 2016 Google had an impressive 73,02% of Worldwide Desktop Market share for Search and a whopping 95,51% of Mobile!


Marketers love big segmented audiences, and performance driven marketers love to measure their campaigns impact (results) on those audiences. Until now, Google has had the better on both fields: audience & measurement!


That’s always been the case with Online Travel. Google is still THE most important source of traffic for hotel chains, airplane companies, rentals and all the related categories. For years big brands like IHG, Marriot or Accor and OTAs like Expedia and Booking.com have supported the majority of their online marketing budgets on Google products, specifically AdWords.


And why wouldn’t they? Google Ads can be set by intent  what makes them reliable, capable of reaching highly interested audiences (because of intent) and an unmatched mutlti-national scale. At the same time and unlike tradicional media, Google allows rapid budget reallocation and offer brands trustworthy insights on their customers.




Travel is a Multi-Billion dollar game and Google as always tried to make the best of it. First with static paid ads, then launching Google Flights and Google Hotels, and even more recently presenting “Destinations on Google” and Google Hotel Ads that dynamically pull prices and availability from direct connections with the hotels, partners and OTAs.


Also, a new AdWords feature Google Price extensions is in beta at the moment but might also be used in the Travel in a near feature, allowing travel providers to show prices for related products and thus increasing CTR and probably conversion rates.



Now enters Facebook


For years Facebook has been considered by marketers as a never-ending promise.

Of course it has the scale. Facebook has been building a huge and active audience, and most of the time brands considered Facebook for brand awareness and even consideration purposes, but besides not being as easily accessible like Google AdWords (with local offices on several countries, hundreds of tutorials, white-papers, how-to articles, etc…), Facebook also lacked the part of the purchase funnel that drives most of the sales volume and scale: the intent.


Facebook bad at selling?



Back in good old 2012, after a highly controversial IPO valued at $104 Billion, Facebook decided to change is business approach to a “Mobile First Strategy” despite being 2 years late compared with Google.


That was the turning point!


By then it was crystal clear to Facebook that mobile users would outnumber desktop users, would spend more time online and there was a huge opportunity for mobile monetizing. Even do it took them roughly 1 year to get the strategy straight, they’ve soon began capitalizing mobile traffic.


With the mobile 1st approach, some wrongs suddenly became very clear:


  • For relevance and engagement, ads served needed to be native (easily integrating in the users experience and not disrupting it);
  • Big data needed to be analyzed fast and efficiently, producing actionable outcomes – that was solved with strategic partners like Adobe;
  • A new way of audience targeting needed to be found to connect consumer habits, demographics and several other signs that could potentially help either influence and/or understand intents from Facebook users. That was done by partnering with 3rd party data giants such as Datalogix (later bought by Oracle) in order to cross-reference online and offline data and establish purchase/conversion patterns;
  • The existing standard in audience segmentation-  cookie based –  showed several restrictions, especially considering online landscape with its micro-moments (Google’s new marketing model), cross-browser, cross-device content consumption;


Since then, Facebook has release and tried several usefull features aimed at increasingly target and segment audiences by all sorts of filters, events and interests.


Some as crazy has life events where you can literally choose from new relationship to newly engaged or to newlywed. I imagine 1800-Flowers has a special relationship with this set of audience…


Facebook Remarketing has also evolved and has became increasingly consistent on delivering fairly good results, also because of better targeting and segmenting as well as newly released ad types like Canvas, that provides a full page ad story-telling seamless experience on mobile.


If you manage online marketing for a brand, try this:

  • Have the Facebook base pixel installed on your website & app and then install the pixel for tracking conversion-related events.
  • Load your active email data base for Custom Audience Ads.
  • Split-test different campaigns according to your conversion events above & another campaign for your Custom Audience and then…


Just feast your eyes on an up to 4% on cost per conversion with epic, accurate and result driven Facebook Remarketing Ads!!!

Bum!!! Nailed it!!!

you my friend nailed it meme


Up to 4% on cost per acquisiton?!? That’s a number that only brand bidding campaigns with search ads can reach!

Display is (was) far far away from that cost per conversion rate!


Do you get now what worries the AdWords team at night?

Display can tap into the largest part of the web: content. Suddenly, for performance campaigns, you’re not restrained to what people search!

Apply these on highly compeling product ads along with dynamic remarketing and custom audience look-a-likes, and you start guessing fast why Facebook is suddenly becoming Google AdWords worst nightmare…


So now for the main question: what Facebook Dynamic Ads for Travel brings to the table? Will cover that below.



Facebook Dynamic Travel Ads – a good AdWords complement?


First of all: what are Facebook Dynamic Travel Ads?

It’s a bit like Facebook Dynamic Ads, just focusing more on the Travel Industry.


Facebook explains Dynamic Ads fairly good:

“With Dynamic Ads you can promote relevant items from an entire catalog across any device. Display ads for thousands of items to the right audience and automate the process. The solution has three major elements: 1. Set up a product catalog. 2. Build your audience from your website and/or mobile app. 3. Create and deliver ads for your catalog”.


So it’s just like regular Facebook Ads, but instead of manually creating every single ad for every product you sell, Facebook will not only automatically do this for you, but it will also customize them according to your customer audience.


Again, its very similar to a Google product, Google Shopping Ads, but without the hassle of people having to search for it!


And now, Dynamic Travel Ads:

“Automatically promote your travel inventory on Facebook. Facebook’s dynamic ads for travel leverage cross-device intent signals to automatically promote relevant products from your inventory with unique creative on Facebook.”


Facebook is diving DTA (Dynamic Travel Ads) in 2 major categories:

  • Hotel Remarketing purposes;
  • Destination Display for awareness and inspiration purposes;


How can you do it?

  1. Set up your Hotel or Destination Catalog
  2. Build your Audience for Travel
  3. Create and deliver ads for your hotels / destinations


Do you get now how Dynamic Ads work? The cycle is very well explained below:

Cycle of Facebook dynamic product ads

source: www.stitcherads.com


With Facebook tapping your audience for user intent signals, automatically feeding your product images, description and pricing to your remarketing audience and then extending it to similar intent-driven shoppers, it’s easy to foresee that these Ads will have a fairly good conversion rate along with the opportunitie to increase the brand’s reach to similar audiences, always keeping in mind conversion goals!



Why a game changer?


Just as explained before, Google takes a huge share of online travel marketing budgets because it allows you to tap into the interest phase of your audience. Also, they’re a global presence so it makes it easier for big brands to scale fast on this model.


With search ads you know what your customers want, because they express it in writing (keywords) on Google search. That’s why every time someone is searching for your travel brand, you need to be there. That’s also the main reason why OTAs and Metasearch Websites are there….


The main players in this game are Expedia Inc and Priceline (who owns Booking.com), and they are willing to invest heavily to take their fare-share on Google paid real estate!


Over the course of 2015 Expedia claims to have spent a staggering $3,3 Billion on online advertising, Priceline Group around $2,8 Billion with AdWords having a lion’s share on their marketing share.


The big problem is that you don’t really want to put all your eggs in the same basket, and that’s why travel giants see Facebook Advertising, specifically Dynamic Travel Ads as such a game changer! It’s has global scale, a huge audience to reach and finally the technology to convert!


Bellow you can see IHG beta testing Facebook Dynamic Travel Ads with it’s IHG Rewards Club:

IHG beta testing Facebook Dynamic Travel Ads


Bellow you can see Waterford Lux Resort Dynamic Travel Ads:

Facebook Dynamic Ads for Travel


Facebook Dynamic Ads and soon other social platforms Ads will offer a viable opportunity to combine high scale marketing investments with increasingly higher conversion rates, therefore allowing brands to either shift a bigger share of their marketing investment or to keep on scaling their marketing dollars but acquiring customers at different stages from the usual “search by keyword, intention stage”.


Analyzing and accurately identifying the correct consumer patterns, signs, habits and behaviors prior to purchasing travel products is the key to a continual increase on ad relevancy and accuracy.


Will Facebook be able to significantly gain marketing dollars share that were previously directed to Google?


What’s your opinion? Leave your thoughts below!




People based marketing and how Facebook is changing segmentation

The last 5 years have been lavish in technological leaps! Powerful mobile devices, multi-touch technology, cloud computing and big data compiling and analysis have completely changed the way we live life, communicate and consume content.


Of course when life itself evolves, so should marketing! For instance marketing segmentation is changing.


And what is changing in real life that impacts your marketing segmentation?


  • Cross-device, cross-browser, omni-channel experience is expected;
  • People definitely have more choices combined with less time;
  • That creates a minimal attention span that needs to be efficiently addressed with compelling perfectly tailored and segmented content;
  • Your audience has grown a mind of their own that can get very loud very fast (check what happened to DKNY and how they’ve successfully handled it);
  • If you don’t nurture fans on their own terms, they won’t by passionate about your brand, advocates will be lesser by the day and you’ll find yourself losing them to another brand that does all of this;


And that’s what happening today! Marketing and especially online marketing has changed immensely and there’s no way back to the good old days of search ads or media buying only agencies. Audiences are now looking for highly tailored, specific and customized experiences wherever or on whatever they are.


People Based Marketing
People Based Marketing


We go online differently depending on where we are, the device we have on, the time of the day and mood (discovery, search, entertainment) we’re in.


These are great and bad news to publishers and advertisers everywhere!


We now need to impact people in a way like never before, and that involves personal, seamless, diversified and creative advertising depending on every one of the above factors.


Both a big opportunity and challenge:



How to effectively segment and market to people?


What used to be THE SEGMENTATION STANDARD is still used by most marketers:

Until now users have been identified in the web with small bits of code (cookies) and those bits of code do their jobs very well on defining what ads we see or the customer experience we get, with just one small detail – they do that on the devices they’re stored in.

It’s like with cookies you have to see every single device as a different persona and that’s a big problem…every one of us has/his several personas!


Not sure if you do?

Let’s go back and remember the cross-device, cross-browser experience with one simple example:

  • Your work pc is blocking Facebook, Youtube, sports news websites and other not work related web content.
  • You won’t visit them on your work pc but you’ll probably spend lots of time on those websites or apps while in your personal pc, tablet or smartphone. That will happen on your smoke or lunch break, and you’ll probably visited the websites that are blocked on your work desktop computer.


That’s why cookies are so very last year. In fact cookies are so outdated that they don’t work cross devices, or with other operating systems / browsers or even with apps. And this is what we do all the time, we keep on hopping around from one device to another!


If a marketing agency representing a soccer club was aiming to segment and publish ads to advertise a soccer product and they were using cookie based information only, odds are you would ended up never seeing those ads even if your lunch break persona was really into that soccer club products…


Do you understand why cookie based ad serving is very inaccurate? Most times you end up wasting a substantial part of your marketing budget due to poor segmentation.


Loud and clear: cookie based segmentation is almost dead and the throne contender is:



People based marketing, how?


Marketing should allow people to have the products they want, where they want them regardless of the time of the day, device or operating system they’re using to access it.


People based marketing aims to show the right people, with the right add, at exactly the right time!

And the trick is exactly what the name says: tracking people instead of cookies.


How? Here’s how:
– You can access your Gmail account from your work pc,
– Your Gmail account is connected to your Facebook account so Facebook already knows that when you log in to your Gmail account, you’re YOU!
– You have Gmail App or Facebook App on your mobile, YOU again!


And you are a real person, with Facebook friends, groups you’re interested and conversations you are engaging on. Facebook stores all your response to topics, catalogs your interests and then builds mile long lists.


If you have your location active on you mobile, Facebook also knows where you live (what really comes handy for local business ads), probably where you eat (remember you post pictures of food you love into your Facebook page?) and many other details.


After that is just a question of decoding your life and the time of your day in micro-moments.



Why is people-based marketing so important for every one?



– If you are a publisher, you’ll want to have the most relevant ads for your audience.
– If you are the audience (aka. consumer), you’ll want to see only the most relevant ads for you.
– If you are the marketer, you have nightmares with ad budget waist, poor targeting and even poorer results. Relevant ads, in the most relevant placements, to the most relevant audiences are a dream come true for marketers.


Sounds a bit creepy doesn’t it? It’s because it actually is! But that’s another ball game anyway…


Hope you’ve enjoyed it. Got comments or questions?
Just it the comment button bellow!


All the best,