*NEW* Case Study: Reaching new heights of advertising through Multi-Layer Optimisation over Facebook - Fiji Airways
Using Multi-Layer Optimisation over Facebook to scale and maximise on advertising budgets and improve outreach is set to be a dominant trend for Asia Pacific travel marketers in 2020.
Taking in 46 countries, over 3,000 spoken languages, and 14 time zones, Asia Pacific is incredibly diverse, and poses unique challenges to travel marketers in the region.
(Image source: ExchangeWire)
At the same time, this uniqueness also opens doors for advertisers. The global travel market continues to evolve and grow, particularly in emerging regions - and with that comes opportunities for the ad tech industry.
How Travel Marketers In APAC Are Spending Their Ad Dollars
As of 2018, Asia Pacific has overtaken North America as the world’s leading digital travel market, with preferences for mobile messaging and AR / VR technology fuelling growth. In terms of expenditure, last year digital advertising represented the largest portion of ad spend for Asia-Pacific travel marketers, at 52%. Last year too, social media represented the biggest proportion of digital spend at 24%, with 19% coming from Facebook and Instagram, and 5% from other social channels.
Max Ueno, VP of APAC, Sojern, reveals that in 2019, three out of four travel marketers planned to increase their digital spend, putting Asia-Pacific travel marketers among the top regions in the world.
55% of travel marketers surveyed in the Asia Pacific region saw driving direct bookings as a top challenge. Perhaps as a consequence of this, Asia-Pacific travel marketers lead the pack when it comes to decreasing spend on online travel agencies (OTAs) this year. Against the global average of 19%, around one quarter of Asia Pacific travel marketers plan to invest less on OTAs. 37% of respondents from Indonesia and India are looking to spend less.
Travel marketers in the region are increasingly looking to technology providers to help them increase direct bookings and incremental revenue across their portfolio. The past several years have also seen a shift in attitude towards social media channels like Facebook and Instagram, which were historically viewed as best for branding, rather than driving conversions.
(Image source: ExchangeWire)
With their offerings of new ad products designed for higher funnel objectives such as brand awareness and lower funnel objectives such as driving conversions via remarketing, Facebook and Instagram are becoming more attractive in terms of investment. In particular, travel marketers are coming to realise that Facebook does not only work for the full funnel, but is becoming the most effective way to influence travellers at each stage of their journey, from initial concept to destination.
Over half (51%) of travel marketers in the Asia Pacific region regard Facebook and Instagram as best for direct response, placing it above paid search (41%) and programmatic display (21%). A third of Asia-Pacific travel marketers believe that Facebook is most effective for driving reach and brand awareness. Almost a fifth of marketers (19%) said that Facebook was most effective at targeting new audiences, while 14% said it was most effective at creating personalised messages and promotional offers.
Growing interest in the Stories format is driving new investment amongst Asia Pacific travel marketers. 56% revealed plans to use Instagram Stories in 2019. Uptake has been particularly high in Indonesia, where 53% of marketers have already used Instagram Stories in 2018, compared to the global average of 44%. 66% of Indonesian travel marketers are intending to continue using or start using the format in 2019, and beyond.
Observers should note that Indonesia’s Instagram usage is ranked fourth, globally. At the other end of the scale, in New Zealand - where only 35% of the population used Instagram as of January 2018 - 33% of New Zealand travel marketers do not currently use, or plan on using Instagram Stories in 2019.
With shared and online video becoming a favoured medium for travellers to obtain and exchange information, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram are the most popular advertising video platforms in the region. For Asia Pacific travel marketers, Instagram stories came top at 56% in planned usage, followed by Facebook stories at 54%, YouTube at 45%, and Snapchat at 53%.
Investments in emerging technology show a wide degree of regional variance. For instance, real-time travel audience data is of most interest to travel marketing investors in India and Indonesia. In more mature digital markets like Singapore and Australia, marketers are more likely to already be using real-time travel audience data as part of their marketing strategy.
Usage and investment in chat or messaging apps are of greater interest to the Asian market than to advertisers in Australia and New Zealand. Overall, 42% of Asia Pacific travel marketers surveyed indicated their intention to use messaging apps as part of their strategy for 2019, with the highest uptake in the four countries where the top three mobile apps with the most monthly active users are chat applications: Indonesia at 63%, India at 52%, with Singapore and Japan both at 48%.
Some 36% of travel marketers in the Asia Pacific region plan on investing in the relatively new option of connected TV (CTV) this year. Travel marketers in Japan - the country with the third highest level of TV consumption globally - show the highest level of interest in CTV, at 42%.
Overall, digital is the largest portion of ad spend in the Asia Pacific region, with 74% of travel marketers planning to spend more on digital this year. With recent advances in digital advertising technology and the analytical use of real-time travel audience data, investment in the right channels enables marketers to further target potential travellers, and drive direct bookings with the brand - which to date has been the top challenge for travel marketers in Asia Pacific.
Notably, almost all of Asia Pacific travel marketers - 99% - intend to maintain or grow their ad spend on social media platforms.
Facebook Is Changing How Brands Connect With Travellers
Besides customer targeting based on behaviour or interests, Facebook has been changing the rules of the travel marketing game with people-based tracking across devices, and cross-platform targeting. In so doing, Facebook is changing how brands connect with travellers throughout their path to purchase.
That path to purchase has become increasingly complex, with multiple channels for inspiration, validation, planning, and booking. It’s not uncommon for prospective passengers to visit travel sites more than 120 times in their journey from dreaming to booking. For travel marketers looking to engage with consumers, the brand has to be there at every step of the traveller’s journey. If it’s not, someone else will be.
For the brand, being present is key. Only a very few intending travellers will know with certainty which brand they want to book with, prior to conducting research. And with so many touch points, understanding the path to purchase of each unique traveller presents a major challenge. Travel marketers must be able to identify individual travellers as they move between websites, devices, and verticals, in order to target them with the most relevant and engaging content.
Recently, Facebook has introduced a range of travel-specific products, to assist marketers in making connections with travellers.
Dynamic Ads for Travel (DAT) allows marketers to engage with users lower in the funnel, who have already visited their website. Its focus is on driving conversions, and encouraging advertisers to use relevant information to reconnect with website visitors.
DAT for Broad Audiences extends the scope of Dynamic Ads for Travel, offering advertisers a solution for reaching users who intend on travelling, but have not yet visited their website.
Facebook’s latest travel product, Trip Consideration is an upper funnel solution that targets the dreamers who have not yet selected a destination.
Facebook’s range of solutions for travel targets users across the funnel, while harnessing travel intent data to benefit both the advertiser and the traveller. The platform encourages travel brands to put more thought and care into the content that they deliver. For its part, Facebook puts that content in front of users who are seeking inspiration, searching for destinations, open to recommendations, and interested in exploring alternatives.
Campaign objectives and targeting options for each stage of the funnel enable marketers to understand the traveller’s individual path to purchase. For travel marketers, it’s critical to understand the activities that fill out the funnel. Each stage should be informed by the activities higher up in the funnel, in order to optimise the campaign for more relevant marketing.
Why Using Multi-Layer Optimisation Matters
The travel industry is hugely competitive and home to a huge range of players, making it critical for organisations to create and sustain a strong brand identity which differentiates them from the rest of the herd. Brand personality and an engaging and seamless customer journey are ingredients for success. But many organisations don’t have a good understanding of where the friction lies, which detracts from that seamless journey: online, in their mobile app, or with their in-store or on-premises experience.
Travel marketers can connect with travellers at every stage of the customer journey - but to do so, they must make the best possible use of the information and technology available to them, and optimise every touch point, each level of the sales funnel, and each layer of the ecosystem in which the traveller interacts with their brand.