Travel search service tries to make hay whilst Facebook still shines
02/16/2016|3:35:53 PM|Tnooz

Countless travel brands have turned to Facebook in recent years in an attempt to expand their digital marketing efforts.

In part, this has been in response to the difficulties many face with their surrounding search engine optimisation tactics (we’re not in Kansas circa 2005 anymore), not least Google because given over large swathes of the search results to its own real estate (maps, local, flights, hotels, etc).

Furthermore, Facebook is the leading proponent of the so-called social graph (Google’s Plus project inevitably floundered), meaning brands who want to capture something from the multi-millions of socially-active travellers have to get involved somehow.

Yet still the jury is out for many brands over the apparent effectiveness of Facebook as an advertising channel, despite the opportunity to segment marketing campaigns to an incredibly granular level to Facebook’s members.

“Members are there to interact with friends, post selfies and click on cat videos – not click on ads,” would be a reasonably fair (and paraphrased) umbrella reaction.

But whilst display advertising may have its challenges, in terms of convincing marketers that they should spend there, some travel brands are finding more success when tapping into the core DNA of what Facebook is all about: connections, interactions, personalisation.

One of the pioneers of the deeper Facebook integration was TripAdvisor, which in 2010 developed its Trip Friends service so that users could tap into the knowledge base of their Facebook friends to find out more about the hotels featured on the site.

Since then, many travel brands and services have used the Facebook log-in as a mechanism to either bypass creating a registration system of their own or begin mining the data that comes along with it.

Some argue that intermediaries have a tougher time in this area, primarily because they often do not “own the customer” or, at least, struggle to facilitate the transfer from the offline customer experience to online social feedback and interaction.

Metasearch is even harder, given that brands exist solely to pass the user on to someone else.

With this in mind, Skyscanner recently started using a number of Facebook tools in a bid to both better understand its customer base and be able to use mobile advertising in a more effective way.

Central to the programme was the use of Facebook log-in as a new way for customers to connect with the site.

Interestingly, even just by playing with the messages that users get when they connect with the metasearch service via Facebook for the first time, Skyscanner was able to achieve a 100% increase in conversion (i.e. people actually continuing to use the service).

With the data flowing through the log-in, Skyscanner also started using something Facebook calls “event-based targeting”, meaning particular types of people could be hit with a particular offer or content on the Skyscanner website during specific periods (families, etc).

The company claims it has seen a five-fold increase in click-through rates on content and offers since hitting people with more relevant material.

Finally, Skyscanner found that by using Mobile App Install Ads (ads that appear in the timeline of a user, both desktop and mobile) it was actually able to attract new people to download the app who then turned out to have twice the “lifetime value” (more engaged, spend more, etc) than existing customers.

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